Lower half of Rangers lineup proves productive in opener
ARLINGTON, Texas – Despite making two big-name additions to the top of the lineup, it was the bottom of the lineup that did much of the damage for the Rangers on Opening Day.
The 10 runs the Rangers scored Monday weren’t enough to beat the Phillies, who won by the football score of 14-10. But it did put at ease the concerns about the bottom half of the Rangers’ lineup, at least for a day.
"Every single person, every single at-bat, it’s key," said Leonys Martin, who had two hits and two RBI hitting eighth. "I don’t care what spot you hit in, every single at-bat helps the team."
The Rangers certainly needed the help Monday as the Phillies posted six runs in the top half of the second inning. They answered with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but the big hits didn’t come from off-season additions Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo.
Instead, it was the unheralded lower half of the batting order that came through. Martin came up with an RBI single, then No. 9 hitter Josh Wilson hit a bases-loaded double to plate three more runs.
"He [Wilson] and Martin did a good job of helping us to come back," manager Ron Washington said. "There’s a lot of good things that happened out there today. We just didn’t pitch as well as we’d like to."
Wilson’s performance was one of those good things. Filling in at second base for the injured Jurickson Profar, Wilson also singled in the fifth inning to go 2-for-3 in his Rangers debut.
Martin went 2-for-4 with two RBI, while catcher J.P. Arencibia had a double and scored two runs out of the No. 7 spot in the lineup.
Martin said hitting low in the lineup is a chance to make the guys at the top of order look good.
"It’s a good opportunity," Martin said. "You’ve got the best hitters behind you. It’s a big opportunity to make a rally."
The Rangers’ four-run rally in the second inning was followed by three more runs in the third to briefly give them a 7-6 lead. Philadelphia tied the game in the fourth, then broke out to a 13-8 lead in the sixth.
The 24 runs scored are the most is in the most in the Rangers’ Opening Day history. It wound up being just the 13th season opener in major league history in which both teams score at least 10 runs.
For the Rangers, the encouraging sign was the ability to rally from behind, with much of the production generated from the bottom half of the lineup.
"That’s what we do. We don’t die," Washington said. "It was early in the game when they put those six runs on the board. There was a lot of baseball to play.
"We weren’t trying to get them all at one time. Just try to get as many as we could and peck away and hopefully put a big inning up there where we could stop them, but we couldn’t. Every time we put runs up on the board they came back and matched it or kept us behind."
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire