ARLINGTON, Texas – At least for one night all was right in the Texas Rangers world.
The strong starting pitching that’s been a constant all season was once again on display against Boston as Derek Holland pitched eight shutout innings.
But an offense that had sputtered over the last week also showed up in a big way as the Rangers not only pounded out a season high 17 hits, but also delivered plenty in the clutch as the routed a Red Sox team with the best record in baseball 7-0.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had been in a 4 for 34 slide with runners in scoring position, had four hits including a huge three-run double that broke the game open in the fourth inning.
And because hitting is contagious, the rest of the Rangers followed suit as Texas 6 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They had a total of two hits with RISP in back-to-back losses to Chicago.
“Beltre’s got a track record,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “The guys in my lineup have got track records. When you look at it, we ran into a Chicago White Sox pitching staff that threw the ball well. Opportunities were there. We just couldn’t cash it in. Sometimes it’s the pitching that does it. When you know what you have, you stay positive.”
The odds were bound to catch up with the Rangers and after some more early-inning missed opportunities, the Rangers finally put things together in the fourth inning. The Rangers had eight hits off Boston lefty Felix Doubront over the first three innings but had just a single run and five runners left on base to show for their work.
That changed in the fourth as Texas sent nine batters to the plate and scored five times. All five of the runs came with two outs. The Rangers had the bases loaded with two down and Beltre looped a Doubront offering to left-center for a three-run double. That seemed to spark the Rangers as Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz each followed with RBI singles to give Derek Holland more than enough room to work with.
Beltre, who came into the game hitting just .215, had a season high four hits and raised his average 26 points. It was a nice night for the Texas cleanup hitter after he failed to deliver hits twice with runners in scoring position in a 3-1 loss Thursday.
“It’s just nice to get involved with the other guys,” Beltre said. “Basically Ian (Kinsler) has been the guy who has created for us offensively and Lance (Berkman). But it’s nice to get involved and I’m happy to be one of those guys. I need to keep it going so I can help our team win. I haven’t seen four hits in a long time (since Aug. 31, 2012), so it’s nice to get into the groove a little bit and hopefully that’ll be the start of another streak.”
Nearly everyone did get involved Friday as nine Rangers had hits, six scored runs and five picked up RBI. Kinsler and Mitch Moreland each had three hits and Elvis Andrus and Cruz two.
Now the key for Texas will be stringing nights like Friday together.
The Rangers know they’re capable of doing just that.
“You’re definitely going to have ups and downs but this is a good team,” said Moreland, who scored runs in the fourth and fifth innings. “We’ve got a lot of different ways we can win. We showed that tonight that we could find the barrel a little bit.”
Of course it helped that Holland (2-2) was dominant, setting a season high with nine strikeouts and allowing six hits. The Red Sox didn’t get a runner in scoring position against him until the sixth inning. By that time the offense had already put seven runs on the board as the Rangers were on their way to matching Seattle and Tampa Bay with a league high fifth shutout.
“Those guys were swinging it well tonight and I wanted to do everything I could to keep them on fire like they were,” said Holland, who was getting the third lowest run support in the AL (2.34 runs per game) before Friday. “I did a good job of keeping the momentum on our side.”