Moreland’s hot hitting helps fire up Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Mitch Moreland didn’t change anything when he struggled the first few weeks of the season, and he’s not changing anything now that he’s one of the Rangers’ hottest hitters.

Moreland went 3-for-3 with a walk in Tuesday’s 10-6 win over the White Sox.

Two of the hits went to the opposite field, a good sign for the left-handed Moreland. All three hits came against lefties, an even better sign for Moreland who has struggled against southpaws, historically.

“I’ve had some balls go right at some guys, I’ve kind of been unlucky at times and maybe got to pressing a little bit,” Moreland said. “I just stuck with my approach and stuck with my plan and it’s working out.”

Moreland has now hit safely in five straight games. He’s had a hit in eight of his last nine games to raise his average from .157 to a season-high .267.

“Mitch has been swinging the bat, I think, pretty good,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He may not be getting any hits for it, but for one thing he doesn’t keep it on his shoulder. And a swinging bat is a dangerous bat.”

Moreland’s performance Tuesday helped the Rangers’ offense thaw out after its last two games in Minnesota. The Rangers lost 7-2 on Saturday and 5-0 on Sunday.

Upon returning to Texas, the Rangers were shut out the first three innings against Chicago starter Jose Quintana. Back-to-back home runs by Nelson Cruz and Jeff Baker in the fourth jump-started the offense.

“Obviously, having a hiccup there Saturday and Sunday and not being too productive, it was nice to bust out,” Baker said. “Hopefully we keep clicking and keep going.”

Moreland got clicking against the White Sox with a leadoff single in the third inning, then followed with another leadoff single in the fifth.

He doubled to left field during a six-run sixth inning. Moreland hit the ball so deep, slow-footed catcher Geovany Soto was able to score from first.

Moreland later scored on an Ian Kinsler single, then capped his night at the plate by drawing a walk in the seventh inning.

“Right now, he’s making contact, he’s using the whole field and that’s what Mitch is capable of doing,” Washington said. “From day one he’s been swinging. He may not have had a whole lot of results, but he’s not shy. He’s lettin’ it fly.”

White Sox reliever Nate Jones also let it fly with back-to-back wild pitches to score two runs in the wild sixth, which also featured a two-run homer by Adrian Beltre.

“It was a lot of fun,” Moreland said. “It was good game to win, to come back from a tough couple of games there in Minnesota. We had the off day yesterday and I think we came back ready to go.”

Moreland has also come back strong after a rough start to the season. With the bats of Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli lost to free agency, the Rangers will likely need more power and production from the first base position.

Despite the added pressure to produce this season, Moreland said he has not been tempted to change his approach at the plate.

“You’ve just got to keep working,” Moreland said. “It’s a long season. This team, we’ve got so many guys that can step up and carry the load, too. That takes a little bit of the pressure off.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire