ARLINGTON, Texas – Someday there may be an American League West rivalry between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
That someday isn’t now and if Monday is any proof, it doesn’t appear to be in the near future either.
Texas, which has dominated the Astros during their ascension in the AL, took the beating to a new level Monday night. The Rangers scored 11 runs in the third inning, the most scored by any team in baseball this year, on their way to a 16-5 thumping of Houston.
The lopsided win ran the Texas record against Houston this year to 12-2 and the Rangers have now won 31 of their last 38 games against Houston. Two of the 12 wins this season included near no-hitters from Yu Darvish but none of the 12 included an offensive night like Monday.
It was a normal 2-1 game until the Rangers came to bat in the bottom of the third. That’s when normalcy turned to lunacy with a full moon shining over Rangers Ballpark with everything that could go right going right for the Rangers and the Astros playing like a team steamrolling to another 100-plus loss season.
The Rangers sent 15 batters to the plate and the only out Houston recorded through the first 12 batters was on Ian Kinsler’s sacrifice bunt, which seemed like a smart move after the first two runners had reached. But Kinsler’s bunt was followed by four-consecutive hits, a walk, a fielder’s choice and a pair of Houston errors. By the time the inning ended, the Rangers had seven hits, drawn three walks and every Texas batter had scored at least once with Leonys Martin and Elvis Andrus scoring twice. It was the most runs the Rangers had scored in an inning since they scored 11 on Sept. 26, 2009 against Tampa Bay.
“It was awesome,” Andrus said of the third inning. “To be able to score and then stay on the bench that long it’s always nice. It was a great game all around, especially for the offense. The base running was really good today too. Every time we do that we’re going to be able to score a lot of runs.”
The 16 runs were a season high for Texas and it came two games after Texas had briefly set a season high in a 15-3 win over Seattle.
Those big games have come without much power. The Rangers had a four game homerless drought snapped with A.J. Pierzynski’s seventh-inning homer, which capped his 4 for 5 night.
The Rangers have showed recently they don’t need to wait for the homer to score runs.
“We’ve done a great job lately of using every last out,” said David Murphy, who had an RBI grounder in the third and added a double in the fourth. “It didn’t matter what type of lead we got. We’re going to continue to have quality at-bats. When you get some good pitches to hit and quality at-bats, you see the type of offensive production and output you have tonight.”
Monday’s game included a hit by every starter but Adrian Beltre and RBI from seven players, including multiple RBI from five. While Beltre didn’t have a hit, he was the first Texas player since Oscar Gamble in 1979 to draw intentional walks in his first two at-bats.
The first intentional walk was followed by a double steal by the Rangers, including a steal of home by Andrus in the first. The second was followed by a two-run single from Pierzynski in the third, which made it a 4-1 game at the time.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell was tagged for nine runs but the Rangers scored runs off the first three Houston pitchers. The only Astros pitcher to escape unscathed was infielder Jake Elmore, who made his big league catching debut after Carlos Corporan got hurt and then pitched a perfect eighth inning.
The beneficiary of the offensive outburst was Matt Garza (3-1). Garza struck out eight over 6 2/3 and allowed five runs. The five runs are the most allowed by a Texas starter since Martin Perez allowed seven on July 26 against Cleveland.
“He had two strikes on every one of those guys,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “He just couldn’t put them away. He may have run out of gas there. He was battling the whole game just to try and stay focused.”