Kinsler hits for cycle, goes 6-for-6 in Rangers' win
Ian Kinsler bolted out of the batter's box as soon as the ball left his bat. He knew he was headed to third base, no matter what.
The Texas Rangers had a big lead over Baltimore in the sixth, and Kinsler already had the chance to accomplish the rare feat of a cycle. It happened after he hit a long flyball into the right-center field gap.
"When I hit that ball, I was just hoping for it to get over his head. Then when it got over his head, I was hoping for it to rattle around," Kinsler said. "I wasn't going to stop at second, regardless if he came up clean or not. I was going to give it a shot."
Kinsler got up and slapped his hands together after sliding head-first into third without a throw for the triple to complete the fourth cycle in team history, and the Rangers went on to a 19-6 victory over the Orioles to snap a five-game losing streak Wednesday night.
Texas was already down 2-0 when Kinsler led off in the first. He hit the first pitch he saw for a double, then added a solo homer in the third and two singles in an eight-run fourth.
"Kins got us started on the first pitch and did let up all night," manager Ron Washington said. "Everybody followed suit."
Michael Young's groundout in the sixth plated Kinsler to make it 15-4. Then when Kinsler batted again in the eighth, he capped his 6-for-6 night with an RBI double and scored for the fifth time. The hits and runs matched team records.
"That was just a monster game. It's one thing to hit for the cycle, that's a once-in-a-lifetime type of game," Michael Young said. "But to add a couple of more hits to it too, it's an incredible game."
Nelson Cruz matched the AL home run lead with his fifth homer - a grand slam on reliever Radhames Liz's first pitch that gave the Rangers a 10-3 lead. That accounted for half of the eight unearned runs Texas scored in the fourth.
Marlon Byrd had went 5-for-6 with three RBIs for the Rangers, who had 19 hits. Their 19 runs are the most scored in the majors this season, and the most for them since their 30-3 victory in Baltimore on Aug. 22, 2007.
Kris Benson (1-1), who missed the last two seasons after surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff, hadn't won since Sept. 21, 2006, when he was pitching for Baltimore against Detroit. The right-hander allowed four runs in six innings.
"Today's game belongs to the offense," Benson said. "It was a great game all the way around. Our offense makes it easier to go out there and pitch six innings."
Cruz came only a few feet from hitting another grand slam, his flyball in the eighth hitting about halfway up the 14-foot wall in left field for a two-run double.
Baltimore, which still has won its first three series in a season for the first time in 11 years, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on consecutive RBI groundouts in the first after Benson walked leadoff hitter Brian Roberts and allowed a double to Adam Jones.
Luke Scott led off the Orioles second with a double and scored when Jones drew a bases-loaded walk for a 3-1 lead.
Only two of the nine runs allowed by Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson (1-1) were earned. The left-hander allowed seven hits and walked four in 3 2-3 innings.
"This one got away from us. I like the way we started. We just didn't pitch well enough and we didn't play well enough," manager Dave Trembley said. "Kinsler is a great player. ... It's a tremendous achievement for an All-Star player."
After Kinsler's homer, Young reached on shortstop Cesar Izturis' fielding error and scored on Hank Blalock's single that rolled under the glove of second baseman Brian Roberts. Byrd followed with an RBI double that broke the 3-3 tie and put Texas ahead to stay.
Rookie Elvis Andrus, the No. 9 hitter, drew a leadoff walk in the fourth before Kinsler singled and Young reached on Roberts' throwing error that allowed a run. There were two outs when Byrd's RBI single made it 6-3 and chased Hendrickson.
Then came Liz, recalled Wednesday after third baseman Melvin Mora and right-hander Alfredo Simon were put on the disabled list. The right-hander gave up four runs in his one inning, including an RBI triple by Andrus.
It was the first cycle for the Rangers since Gary Matthews Jr., at Detroit on Sept. 13, 2006. The other Texas cycles were both against Cleveland, Mark Teixeira on Aug. 17, 2004; and Oddibe McDowell on July 23, 1985.
Alfonso Soriano had the only other six-hit game for Texas, against Detroit on May 8, 2004.
"It's more special on Jackie Robinson Day," Kinsler said. "He's a guy that could do everything in the game. Hit triples, hit home runs, steal bases, drive people in, score runs. He could do everything offensively. It's just kind of a weird thing that I'm playing second base on Jackie Robinson Day and that happens."
Baltimore has won the first two games in each of its series this season, only to lose the finale. ... Jones hit a two-run homer in the ninth. ... Josh Hamilton had only two strikeouts in his 31 at-bats before Wednesday, but struck out twice. ... Rangers RHP Willie Eyre, who missed last season while recover from ligament transplant surgery in his elbow, made his season debut with two scoreless innings. ... Benson signed a minor league deal with Texas a week into spring training and made the team.