Whether they are trailing or narrowly ahead, the Texas Rangers know they are just a big inning away from changing the course of any game with no better examples than last week.
The Rangers scored at least five runs in a single frame four times during their six-game inter-league home stand against Arizona and Houston. Coupled with a team-record four straight games of at least 10 strikeouts and Texas won five of those contests. That kept Texas four games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and a season-equaling 13 games over the .500 mark at 40-27.
Ahead 1-0 to open the week against the Diamondbacks, Texas scored five times in the sixth inning on the way to 9-1 victory. They performed similar feats in three wins against the Astros with a five-run fifth (trailing 1-0), five-run sixth (down 3-0) and seven-run sixth (behind 1-0).
“We just kept grinding, grinding and grinding,” said Rangers Manager Ron Washington. “If we keep that up throughout our lineup it is hard to stop us. And it’s been someone different every day. If we keep doing that every day, we’ll be fine.”
Among the individual offensive heroes were Ian Kinsler (three hits Tuesday, three-run triple Sunday), Elvis Andrus (three hits Saturday), Nelson Cruz (three-run home run Saturday) and Adrian Beltre (two-run homer Sunday). On the mound, Colby Lewis won twice, yielding just two runs and seven hits in 16 innings, Yu Darvish struck out 11 in winning his eighth games, Matt Harrison gave up no runs in 7.1 innings in a no-decision and Justin Grimm won his major league debut giving up three runs and striking out seven in six innings.
“As long as we put up runs like that we can hang around and put balls in the strike zone,” said Lewis. “Everything has been working out. We’re getting good offense production so it’s been good.”
Back home after short trip
After the Rangers complete a quick three-game trip to San Diego on Wednesday they return home to begin a 10-game home stand against the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers. The series with Colorado ends 2012 inter-league play.
The Rangers last faced Colorado in 2006, losing two of three in Denver. The teams haven’t met in Arlington since 2001 when the Rangers won two of three. Colorado leads the all-time series 10-9. Colorado entered this week with a 25-40 record after dropping two of three games at Detroit.
The Rockies are second in the National League with 82 home runs and tied for third in batting average at .265. Leading the team is left-fielder Carlos Gonzalez with a .335 average, 17 home runs, 51 runs scored, 51 runs batted in and 9 stolen bases. Right-fielder Michael Cuddyer, the former Minnesota Twin, is next with 10 homers and 44 RBI. All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been out since May 31 with a groin injury. Pitching has been a major problem for the Rockies, who are last in the National League with a 5.35 earned run average. Rookie lefthander Christian Friedrich has the most wins on the starting staff with four but a 5.60 ERA. Closer Rafael Betancourt has converted 10 of 12 save chances.
Since the Rangers beat Detroit three of four times in the Motor City in late April, the Tigers have struggled to a 32-34 record, three games behind the Chicago White Sox in the A.L. Central Division. They are second in the AL in batting average at .267. First baseman Prince Fielder (.315, 44 RBI) and third baseman Miguel Cabrera (.310, 54) are among the league leaders in both categories.
On the mound, Justin Verlander’s three complete games, 2.66 ERA and 103 strikeouts and Jose Valverde’s 13 saves are near the top of the AL in those categories.