Rangers hit 4 homers to complete rare sweep
ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz said maybe the key to the Rangers getting on a roll was the weather.
He said it felt like the series against Seattle was being played in the near-perfect climate of San Diego.
Maybe Cruz is onto something.
The last time the Rangers swept a series was last June 18-20. That's when they took a three-game set at San Diego. That stat changed Sunday as the Rangers scored a season-high 11 runs on their way to completing a three-game sweep of the Mariners with an 11-3 trouncing.
It was a series in which the offense tallied 23 runs and the Rangers were able to win games started by rookie Nick Tepesch, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings Saturday, and Sunday starter Justin Grimm.
However the sweep got done, the Rangers will take it as they moved into sole possession of first place in the American League West for the first time since April 5.
"It's about winning games," said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run. "It's about winning as many games as you can. If that ends up being 10 in a row, it ends up being 10 in a row. It definitely starts with a series, but it's really nice to get a sweep."
It also helps when the Rangers score 11 runs, the most they've scored since they put up a 12-spot last Aug. 22 against Baltimore. Texas got production from everywhere in the lineup, batting around in the fifth inning and getting four home runs.
The weather certainly agreed with Cruz, who broke open the fifth with his fifth career grand slam.
All the offense came in support of Grimm, who had just one major-league win before Sunday. But he survived a rocky first two innings by allowing just one run. He ended up pitching six innings of two-run ball and setting a career high with nine strikeouts.
By the time he exited the game, the sweep was on as the Rangers led 10-2.
"We were very happy that we were able to go out today and put some good things together," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "It all started with Grimm on the mound. He was able to make good pitches at the right time. He kept his ball down, changed speeds and threw the ball the way he was capable of throwing it."
It didn't start that way. The Rangers came into the game having lost seven-consecutive games in which they had a chance to close out a series sweep. A first-inning error helped Seattle score a run and forced the Rangers into catch-up mode.
Grimm wiggled out of trouble after allowing a leadoff double in the second and a leadoff single in the third. The Rangers got him back to even in the bottom of the third on the first career home run from Leonys Martin.
That seemed to get the offense going against Aaron Harang, as Mitch Moreland blasted a two-run homer in the third and the Cruz shot highlighted a fifth inning in which the Rangers sent 10 batters to the plate.
Grimm ended up pitching six innings and allowing just one earned run.
The Rangers had 11 hits and also drew four walks. They hope the combination of offense and solid starting pitching is a sign of what's to come, especially as the club starts a seven-game road trip Monday at the Los Angeles Angels.
Hopefully it's San Diego-like weather there too.
"The weather helped us a lot," Cruz joked. "This is the way we see it as a lineup. We're dangerous 1-9 and I'm glad to see the whole team do damage. It was a good series for the whole team. The pitchers threw amazing. The offense did the job. When we needed a clutch hit, we got it done."