Aggressive Rangers avert Los Angeles sweep

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The apparent much-needed reminder
from manager Ron Washington about what makes the Texas Rangers successful was
taken to heart Sunday.

Texas returned to its solid defensive and aggressive offensive ways against the
Los Angeles Angels and averted a sweep with a 7-3 victory at Angel Stadium.

It wasn’t easy as the Rangers had to fend off a pair of rallies, but there were
no complaints after Texas snapped a season high four-game slide.

“The main focus today was at a whole different level today than yesterday
or the last two weeks,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Yesterday’s talk
(postgame team meeting) kind of opened everybody’s eyes and minds a little bit
and we really didn’t try to do too much today. We wanted to get on base, see a
lot of pitches and just do our game plan.”

Andrus, whose seventh-inning blunder Saturday was one of the causes for Saturday
night’s meeting, sparkled at the plate and in the field Sunday. He went 3-for-4
with two RBI a walk and a sacrifice, while making two dynamic plays in the

He wasn’t alone in getting things going as the Rangers also stole two bases,
challenged the Los Angeles outfielders and played error-free ball after making three
errors in Saturday’s 3-2 loss.

Great starting pitching to begin the game from Matt Harrison didn’t hurt either
as Harrison carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

“It was just a matter of getting back to reality and knowing we’re a good
ballclub and going out there and playing our game,” Texas manager Ron
Washington said. “We accept what happens that way. We went out there and
played our game. We were aggressive out there.

“Sometimes a reminder is all you need. Maybe I gave them a
reminder at the right time (with the Saturday team meeting.”

Texas needed to be aggressive offensively. The Rangers went 0-for-8 with
runners in scoring position Saturday and stranded 14 Sunday. But with so many
chances to get runs home, the Rangers finally started doing that.

Andrus got things going with an RBI double in the third inning and Michael
Young made it a 2-0 game in the fifth with a single. After the Angels scored a
run off Harrison in the fifth, Texas countered with another in the sixth and
then added two more in the seventh on a mammoth homer from Nelson Cruz.

Cruz was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Bobby Cassevah and smashed
it to left-center. There were seven homers hit on 3-0 counts going into
Sunday’s game and the Rangers now have two this year.

Washington said he told his players Saturday he wanted them to be aggressive so
he had to get back to being aggressive too. Cruz rewarded that call by hitting
a homer that was estimated by at 484 feet, the longest homer hit this season.

“They gave me a green light,” Cruz said. “The bat before I was
3-0 and took it. The manager (Washington) told me it’s how I feel. I felt like
swinging 3-0 and was expecting something up in the strike zone.”

The Cruz homer put the Rangers up 5-2. The Angels scored one in the bottom of
the seventh and loaded the bases for Albert Pujols with Alexi Ogando on the
mound. But Ogando induced Pujols to fly out on a 100-mph fastball to end that

The Rangers weren’t done though, scoring two more runs in the ninth by twice
running on Los Angeles outfield phenom Mike Trout. Both times the Rangers were

“We were very aggressive on the base paths,” Washington said.
“It was just a nice ballgame. A lot of focus. A lot of looseness. The past
couple of ballgames I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen a lot of tightness. I didn’t
see that out there today.”

Harrison certainly was loose. He needed 32 pitches to get through three innings
and didn’t allow a base runner until Mark Trumbo led off the fifth with a walk.
Erick Aybar ended the no-hitter with a two-out RBI double in the fifth, but
Harrison responded. He ended up pitching into the seventh and upped his mark to
7-3, with four of those victories coming after Texas losses.

“You never want to have losing streaks, but it’s good to leave here with a
win and take that into tomorrow against Oakland,” said Harrison, who threw
85 pitches and struck out three while walking three. “It was a big game
for us. We can bounce back now and try to get on a winning streak here. I felt
really good the first four or five innings.”