Rookie Julio Borbon was known as a contact hitter with speed before joining Texas.
Now he’s starting to add power to his game.
Borbon hit two of Texas’ four homers, Marlon Byrd went 4 for 4, including a three-run homer in the seventh, and the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 11-9 on Tuesday in front of a sparse crowd in the first game of a doubleheader.
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Borbon now has three homers in 70 major league at-bats this season after hitting just nine in 1,091 career minor league at-bats.
“He’s capable of doing that,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t know if you’ll see him hit 15 or 20 this year, but he certainly has a line drive stroke and sometimes he can catch it and hit it out. I don’t think that’s something you can look for all the time, but every now and then he’ll put a good stroke on the ball. He did twice today.”
The two teams combined for six homers and 29 hits and scored half of the 20 runs after the sixth inning. David Murphy also homered for Texas, while Matt LaPorta and Travis Hafner homered for Cleveland.
The two homers for Borbon ended a 5 for 33 skid (.152) that spanned 11 games. He is still batting .329 this year.
“I’m kind of surprised, I’m not going to lie,” he said of the recent power surge. “It’s just putting up good swings. They weren’t bombs, they were driven balls. That’s what happens when you make solid contact.”
Indians reliever Chris Perez entered in the seventh with a runner at first and the longest consecutive scoreless innings streak among major league relievers at 20 2-3 innings. He walked the first batter he faced before Byrd pounded a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers in left, breaking a 5-all tie. Texas led the rest of the way.
It was the first run Perez allowed since Chicago’s Paul Konerko hit a grand slam off him on July 7, a span of 20 appearances.
“He’s done a tremendous job for us, but not today,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “You’re not going to be perfect, that’s for sure.”
Jensen Lewis (2-4) pitched 1 1-3 innings to take the loss.
The Indians had tied the game at 5 on rookie Michael Brantley‘s two-run bloop double off Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz (1-0) in the sixth. Those runs were charged to starter Tommy Hunter, just the second and third inherited runners to score off Feliz.
He entered the day second to Perez with a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 19 2-3 innings. He extended that streak to 20 1-3 innings before Hafner ended that with a solo homer in the seventh.
“He’s only human,” Washington said of Feliz, who had retired 18 consecutive batters before Tuesday. “I don’t think I can remember any pitcher that came to the big leagues and had a 0.00 ERA. He’s going to give up something.”
Texas began the day 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race. That’s the closest the Rangers have been to a playoff spot this late since Sept. 26, 2004, when they were 2 games out in the AL West.
An estimated crowd of less than 1,000 witnessed the start of the first game. Monday’s rainout pushed the start time up two hours, impacting the late-arriving crowd.
NOTES: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double in the fifth inning. … Texas activated OF/DH Andruw Jones prior to the doubleheader. He did not play in the first game, but was the DH in the nightcap. … Prior to the game, the Indians purchased the contract of infielder Niuman Romero from Triple-A Columbus. … The Indians and Class A Lake County Captains have agreed on a four-year extension to their Player Development Contract (PDC) thru the 2014 season. The extension runs from 2011-14.