ARLINGTON, Texas – What happened in the top of the fourth inning Monday night has been a common occurrence this month for the Texas Rangers.
After that, however, brought a new twist.
The Rangers rallied for an 8-7 victory after Oakland had scored six runs in the fourth inning to seemingly take control of the game. The comeback, which featured the best offensive output by the Rangers in June, helped Texas snap a six-game losing streak and close the gap on the Athletics in the American League West to two games.
Texas had scored just four runs in its last four games but was able to dig out of a 6-3 hole, with the second homer from Nelson Cruz putting the Rangers up for good.
The win was a nice sight in Arlington for a team that had started a home stand 1-6 and came after a postgame team meeting Sunday.
“That’s what baseball about, it’s about momentum,” said Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, who scored a run and had an RBI Monday. “Momentum was obviously shifted at that point in the game. I don’t think we had the mentality that we had lost the game. We were willing to fight and we kind of showed we wanted to get back to playing the game we had in the past.”
They did just that behind a resurgent offense and a strong bullpen, something that had propelled the Rangers in the season’s first two months.
Texas scored one run in the fourth and then three in the fifth, with the Cruz homer giving Texas a 7-6 lead. The Rangers added another run in the seventh and then hung on as Oakland scored a run in the ninth and had the tying run at second before Joe Nathan got Derek Norris to pop up to clinch the first Texas win in a week.
Cruz went 3 for 4 with his first multi-homer game since last June and four RBI. He was happy to contribute to a much-needed win.
“There’s no better situation to come up and do what you’re supposed to do than against your rivals,” Cruz said.
The way the Rangers were going, they wouldn’t have cared if the win came against Oakland, Houston or a local high school team. But there were enough positive signs in the win that the Rangers are hoping it signals the end of their June swoon.
Texas scored the game’s first three runs and finished with 12 hits, its best output of the month. The Rangers also went 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position, matching their entire hit total in those situations during the losing streak (4 for 34). The bullpen was also dominant as Neal Cotts, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers bailed out Nick Tepesch with 4 1/3 hitless innings.
With the bullpen keeping the Athletics off the board, that gave the offense enough time to get the Rangers back into the game and in a winning situation.
It was a good position to be in, and one that’s been rare lately.
“We were looking for what happened, some base hits in some RBI situations, and to keep grinding,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “The only thing that happened tonight is they just showed they had the capability of doing what they’re doing tonight. They really did. That was the only thing I stressed to them yesterday (in the closed-door team meeting).”
The offense bailed out Tepesch, who sailed through three innings but didn’t make it out of the fourth. A questionable call at third base went against the Rangers but Tepesch added to the problem by allowing four hits after that play.
He’s now allowed 17 runs in his last three starts, but Washington said he’d get the ball for his next start in St. Louis.
But the Tepesch meltdown became an afterthought on a night when the offense finally came around after a club-record six consecutive games with two or less runs.
While Monday was a good sign, the Rangers know they have to build on it.
“It feels nice,” said Adrian Beltre, who went 2 for 4 and scored two runs. “It’s a better sensation coming into the clubhouse high-fiving than not. Every hitter was trying to go to home plate, trying to get hits and doing whatever the situation asked for. In the last six games it’s not like we didn’t want to do that but today was about finding more holes and having better at-bats. Hopefully it will be the beginning of something better.”