Texas finds stride in rare blowout win
ARLINGTON, Texas – Nights like Friday haven’t been really common for the Texas Rangers recently.
Maybe it was the fact the Rangers were playing the struggling Houston Astros, but maybe the 10-5 thumping is a sign the erratic Texas offense is starting to find its stride after more than a month of hit-and-miss performances.
The Rangers certainly hope so after they scored the game’s first 10 runs, hit three homers and were able to keep the backend of the bullpen from getting out of their seats. The Rangers had their best scoring night since May 19 and Nick Tepesch got his first victory since beating the Astros May 12. The win also marked just the second time in the last five weeks the Rangers have won a game by at least five runs.
Friday’s outburst came one night after the Rangers scored four times in the seventh inning to rally past Seattle and the 15 runs the club has scored in the last two games are their most in back-to-back contests since the end of May.
“Sometimes you go through a stretch where the offense is clicking and does everything well,” said Adrian Beltre, whose two-run homer in the fourth gave him three homers in the last two games. “Hopefully yesterday was the start and then today was better. Hopefully we do it again tomorrow.”
The Rangers scored early and often against Houston righty Lucas Harrell. David Murphy gave the Rangers some rare early runs with a homer to right center in the first inning to put Texas up 2-0. Nelson Cruz then blew the game open in the second by blasting a grand slam that bounced off the top of the wall in left center and over.
Cruz now has six career grand slams, all of them coming at Rangers Ballpark. His 21st homer of the year put the Rangers up 6-0 but they were far from done.
Beltre’s homer capped a three-run fourth and came after Houston first baseman Brett Wallace dropped what would have been the third out. The Rangers added another run in the fifth and finished the game with five extra-base hits.
Beltre had two hits and raised his average to a team high .307 to go along with 17 home runs and 46 RBI.
“I thought we handled Harrell well,” said Texas manager Ron Washington, whose team has won six of seven meetings vs. the Astros and outscored Houston 47-32. “We made him throw some balls in the strike zone, didn’t chase him. We got some hits when we needed it, and the big blow was the grand slam by Cruz. Murph got us on the board early, got us those two runs. It sort of settled Tepesch down a little bit.”
Tepesch sailed through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth as Houston tagged him for four runs after he began to tire. Still, by that time the Rangers had already blown the game open.
Texas had nine hits and also drew seven walks. As important as the offensive production was the players who were doing the producing. Murphy hit his second homer of the home stand and Mitch Moreland had his second extra-base hit since coming back from the disabled list. Beltre’s power surge has come following a 22-game homerless drought for him.
Seven players had hits and seven scored. That’s the kind of balance the team is hoping for, even when they’re not playing against the Astros.
“You want to keep being able to pour it on when you have the opportunity to,” Murphy said. “At the same time when you have a lead like that, your pitcher can try to pound the strike zone and get some easy outs and try to save the bullpen a little bit.”