Adrian Beltre hit three home runs in consecutive at bats and Mitch Moreland hit his first career grand slam to help the Rangers take the rubber game in the series and cruise to a 12-3 win. The offense churned out 14 hits, and thanks to a nine-run fourth inning, were never really challenged in the game.
Derek Holland was solid for Texas, going seven strong and utilizing command all of his pitches by striking out five and walking only a pair. He allowed three runs on five hits. Holland’s slider was most effective, producing some ugly swings from the Orioles and keeping their hitters off balance.
Orioles Pitcher Tommy Hunter had a very poor outing, going only three innings and allowing eight runs (all earned) on eight hits, walking two and striking out none.
But the night was about Beltre.
Getting the early lead: Beltre led off the second pitch of the second inning with a line drive shot off of Hunter (423 feet) to give the Rangers the early 1-0 advantage.
Defense at its finest: Texas made some spectacular plays in this game. In the first inning, Moreland dove to his right to snag a sharp grounder to take away a hit from Adam Jones and then underhanded it to Holland at the bag for the out. Beltre was his usual vacuum-like self, making a handful of plays that we have become accustomed to seeing. Matt Wieters hit a bouncer to second base that Beltre had to track down in a hurry to cut off and throw him out in the second inning. His most impressive play, though, was a ball hit by Robert Andino that looked routine, but took a wicked hop and required an acrobatic barehand by Beltre and a bullet throw to first for the out.
Fourth inning to remember: Josh Hamilton led off the inning with a screaming single to center field and then Beltre was up again trying to repeat what he did his first time at the plate, and sure enough, the second pitch he saw from Hunter was blasted to left field (390 feet) to give Texas a 3-1 lead and Beltre his second home run of the night.
Two batters later, David Murphy laced an RBI double down the right field line for a 4-1 advantage. A walk by catcher Geovany Soto loaded the bases and brought up Moreland. And just like Beltre, on the second pitch he saw, he crushed it to right field for his first grand slam (382 feet) and an 8-1 lead for the home team. Texas still wasn’t done. After Ian Kinsler singled, Hunter was pulled and Kevin Gregg got Elvis Andrus to ground into a double play, but walked Hamilton in a scrappy 11-pitch at bat by the slugger. That brought up Adrian Beltre for the second time in the inning, and on an 0-2 pitch, Beltre smashed his third homer of the night (410 feet) to center field. It completed a nine-run inning for Texas and gave them a 10-1 advantage.
Beltre in rare company: With his three blasts, Beltre became the second Rangers player ever to hit two homers in the same inning and (according to ESPN) became just the fifth player in ML history to hit three homers in the regular season and postseason–the slugger did it in Game 4 of the ALDS last year in Tampa against the Rays.
It was the type of game that makes watching the Rangers on a daily basis such a treat, these outbursts of scoring have been rare in the past few months, but it is only fitting that on the fifth anniversary of the most runs scored in a game in MLB history, the Rangers offense was crushing the ball.
Texas will host the Minnesota Twins in the first of a four-game series on Thursday.