The feast or famine Rangers offense was in full-on World-Eater mode last night, driving in 8 runs off Jered Weaver (one of the top pitchers in the American League), and then driving in another 5 when the Angels looked like they were trying to string together a comeback. Weaver, who had allowed just two hits in the last 16 innings pitched going into this game, looked visibly frustrated in the mound and on the dugout. Apparently, the Rangers are a little harder to dominate than the Minnesota Twins.
Here are a few notes:
Nelson Cruz was the best player on the field for the Rangers last night. First, there was the 2-out grand slam that broke the game open. Then, Cruz doubled and scored in the fifth to add some padding onto the Rangers lead, and singled, stole a base, and scored in the seventh. Cruz was a consistent power and basestealing threat all game long, wearing down the Angels pitchers, and in the case of Weaver, psychologically traumatizing them.
The other Rangers hitters weren’t too shabby either. Each batter got at least one hit, except for Murphy, who still managed to walk and score. Andrus had four hits, scoring and earning an RBI, while Hamilton hit a terrific double to chase Weaver from the game. Napoli also looked pretty comfortable out there, earning three hits and a walk, while Kinsler hit two ripping doubles. Basically, a great day all around.
Feliz looked very, very comfortable on the mound, throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters, and forcing them to make mistakes. He made a couple mistakes of his own, including giving up a home run to Mark Trumbo after having walked Kendrys Morales, which temporarily put the Angels in the lead. He wasn’t getting many strikeouts early on, however, but he did manage to go a full six innings while limiting the damage, so I have no quarrel here.
My problem, if any, rests with the bullpen. Mark Lowe looked as lost as Feliz looked sharp, with the Angels comfortably spraying hits to all sides of the field. Lowe looked really sharp his last few outings, so hopefully this is an aberration. Uehara, on the other hand, game in to induce a critical ground ball to Andrus, who made a stellar defensive play to flip it with his glove to Ian Kinsler, who got the force-out at second with bases loaded in the seventh. Amazingly, the Angels had the tying run at the plate at that point. Uehara appears to have returned to his dominant form he showed with the Orioles, and I’m very glad he’s back.
All in all, it was an explosive game that treated the Texas Rangers fans in attendance to a wild ride. It also managed to expand the gap between the two teams in the standings: the Angels are now 8 games behind. The ESPN broadcast was saying some really great stuff about the Rangers, showing just how far this team has come.