Rookie provide spark for Texas offense vs. Indians
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers need offense from everywhere in the batting order if they’re going to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot this year.
Rookies Michael Choice and Rougned Odor are doing their best to hold up bottom of the order.
Choice and Odor each had key homers Friday and combined for four RBI as the Rangers edged Cleveland 6-4 on a night when right-hander Yu Darvish wasn’t razor sharp.
Choice’s homer in the seventh snapped a 4-4 tie and continued a torrid stretch for the former UTA standout. Choice is 4 for his last 7 with two home runs and four RBI and six of his last 10 hits have gone for extra bases.
"I feel like I’ve made some mental adjustments at the plate and kind of changed my approach a little bit, being more aggressive," said Choice, whose second-inning RBI single put the Rangers up 2-0. "I feel like I started out kind of passive at the plate, trying to feel guys out and lately I’ve tried to be more aggressive and be not so picky at the plate."
Choice, who has 23 RBI in 131 at-bats, has also made a habit of coming up big in key situations. He’s 14 for 39 with runners in scoring position this season.
He isn’t the only rookie though coming up big for the Rangers. Odor followed Choice’s RBI single in the first with a 405-foot homer to right off Trevor Bauer to give Texas a 4-0 lead. Like Choice, Odor has benefited from regular playing time.
The production from Choice and Odor has been big, especially since Choice began the season as the No. 4 outfielder and Odor in Double A.
"Michael’s starting the swing the bat real good, starting to make great contact," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We know he’s a strong kid, capable of hitting the ball hard. Tonight that was a big one he got for us to the opposite field. Odi (Odor) he went up there and sat on a first pitch fastball in and got it. He’s been doing a good job for us since he’s been here. They’re battling man. That’s what I love about them."
Choice and Odor are the first Texas rookies to homer in the same game since Max Ramirez and Justin Smoak hit home runs against Oakland on May 12, 2010.
Texas needed the rookie pop as Darvish couldn’t make the 4-0 lead after two innings stand up. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a three-run homer off Darvish in the third inning, which marked the first three-run shot Darvish has allowed for the Rangers.
He gave up another run in the fourth inning but then settled down. He worked around back-to-back singles to open the seventh by getting two strikeouts and a comebacker to end the frame. That set the stage for Choice to be one of the rookie heroes.
His two-out blast to right center of Marc Rzepczynski, his fifth of year, just cleared the fence.
"I was just hoping it got in the gap," said Choice, who also homered Thursday. "I saw (David) Murphy kind of stop. That’s when I knew it was going to get out."
The homer made a winner out of Darvish (6-2), who had a streak of 42 starts of allowing eight or fewer hits snapped. He struck out eight, walked three and allowed as many as nine hits for just the fourth time in his career.
Washington had no complaints about the performance of his ace.
"He kept us in the ballgame once they fought back and got the game tied," he said. "He bent but he didn’t break. Yu got us the fifth, sixth and seventh inning. When you looked at it early, you probably thought he wouldn’t get that far. He was able to keep us around until we were able to scratch some runs and we did."