ARLINGTON, Texas — David Murphy remembers the 2008 Texas Rangers season very well.
Murphy was traded to the Rangers that year and played in a lot of high scoring games that lacked solid pitching.
It was flashback night at Rangers Ballpark Wednesday and Murphy had a starring role. Unlike in 2008 when the Rangers weren’t a .500 club, the 2012 Rangers continued to find a way to win games.
They outslugged the Tigers 13-9 to win their sixth consecutive series and move 18 games above .500 for the first time this season. The Rangers, who have won 10 of their last 12 games, are 47-29 and off to their best start in franchise history thanks to Wednesday’s win.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty as Texas was outhit 17-16, allowed three unearned runs to score and either warmed up or used seven different pitchers. But no one was complaining after the hitting soiree authored up by the two explosive offenses.
“It was a very strange night,” said Murphy, who slammed two homers, matched his career high with five RBI and had four hits. “We’re kind of going back to 2008 days here with the football score. The bottom line is we got a win. There were some strange plays and it was a high-scoring game. But you’re going to have those. It doesn’t happen every night. Wins don’t have to be pretty. We just want to get as many as possible.”
The same statement could have been said by Texas starter Roy Oswalt (2-0). Oswalt won with one of the strangest lines of his career. He allowed a career-high 13 hits in six innings but became the first Texas pitcher to win a game while allowing at least 13 hits since Doc Medich did it in 1980.
Despite giving up all the hits, Oswalt allowed just five runs in his six innings. Oswalt said after the game he may have thrown too many pitches in the strike zone (74 of 107), which allowed the Tigers to be aggressive with him on the mound.
But Detroit really only hurt him in the fifth inning, when Jhonny Peralta lined a two-run double to cap a three-run inning. Take away that hit and Oswalt’s line looks a lot better.
“The biggest pitch that made it from a good game and winning the game to a lot better game was a bad pitch to the shortstop (Peralta),” Oswalt said. “I had him set up 0-2. I was trying to run a ball behind his hands. It didn’t quite take off like I wanted to. I didn’t get it far enough in. If I throw that pitch 10 more times, he may get jammed.”
The good news for Oswalt, the first pitcher since then-San Diego’s Aaron Harang last year to allow at least nine hits in two consecutive starts and win both games, was that he had the Texas offense behind him.
Detroit’s three-run fifth cut Texas’ lead to 7-5. And as was the case throughout Wednesday’s game, the Rangers had the answer for everything the Detroit offense did.
In the bottom of the fifth it was Murphy getting things started again. He blasted a three-run homer in the second to key a four-run inning off Doug Fister. His fifth-inning single scored Adrian Beltre and put the Rangers up 8-5. Two batters later Leonys Martin tripled and the Rangers led by five.
The Rangers offense didn’t slow down from there. Texas pushed the lead to 11-5 in the sixth, but Detroit came back with four runs in the eighth off Martin Perez, who was making his big league debut.
But once again, the Rangers answered Detroit, this time with two runs as the Tigers turned an Ian Kinsler pop up into a double and then allowed him to score from second on an Elvis Andrus bunt. Andrus came around to score on a Beltre double, which was the final hit of the night for Texas.
The Rangers, who have scored at least 10 runs 11 times this season, also hit three homers in a game for the first time this month.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do, especially against a team like the Tigers,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “We’re both pretty good offensive teams and we both are having our struggles offensively. But tonight they did grind and put runs on the board and we did grind and put more runs on the board than they did.
“I’m very pleased with our approach and what we’re trying to do. Some night it might not look as nice, but the bottom line is when it’s over if we score more runs than the other team, that’s what matters.”