Rangers' Rios hits for the cycle against Astros
ARLINGTON, Texas – There was no question Rangers outfielder Alex Rios was going for a triple when he drove a ball to the gap Monday night.
"I knew I had to go," Rios said. "I was going since the first step that I took."
Rios got his triple, which completed the cycle for him and put the icing on a 12-0 win over the Astros.
It also, momentarily, allowed the Rangers to exhale at the start of a final, pressure-packed week as they fight for a Wild Card spot.
The Rangers trail Cleveland by one game for the second Wild Card berth, and Wild Card leader Tampa Bay by two games, with six to play.
An offense that has struggled for weeks came through with generous run support for starter Derek Holland, who won his 10th game with his seventh career shutout. It was Holland's first win since Aug. 4 and he maintained focus through every one of his 109 pitches.
"We always joke about how I don't get much run support, it was good to see those guys do everything they did," said Holland, who was winless in his previous eight starts. "I wanted to make sure, no matter what, I was not going to let anything happen with them guys putting runs up and letting them come back."
The offensive outburst was especially welcome at home, where the Rangers had been 0-7 in the month of September. Theoretically, should give the Rangers confidence as they finish the season at home.
"It's certainly something we've been looking for," manager Ron Washington said. "We'll know how confident it is tomorrow, but I'm very happy that we were able to put some runs on the board, and we just kept doing it. That's what we have to do, just keep putting runs on the board."
Rios just kept putting the ball in the right spot. He achieved the cycle in just four plate appearances, starting with a double down the left field line in the first inning.
He then beat out an infield single to third base in the third inning and homered to left-center in the fourth.
When Rios came up in the sixth, the entire Rangers dugout knew he needed a triple to complete the cycle. Rios drove a ball into the right-centerfield gap, and the race was on.
"He hit it in the perfect part of the field, and with his speed he was able to do it," Washington said. "As soon as he hit it, they were yelling from the bench ‘Triple! Triple! Triple!' He can run for a big man."
Rios became the seventh Ranger to hit for the cycle, the last being teammate Adrian Beltre who did it last season. It was the sixth cycle at Rangers Ballpark and the third this season in the American League, joining the Angels' Mike Trout and the Astros' Brandon Barnes.
The Ballpark crowd of 33,743 gave Rios a standing ovation when he came out of the dugout to take his position in the top of the seventh.
"I had goosebumps when I was running to right field," Rios said. "It felt great."
The dominating win no doubt felt great to all of the Rangers, although they still need help from other teams if they are to make the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
"We just need worry about ourselves," Holland said. "If we got out and win, then the rest of it will take care of itself. We've got to put the pressure on them. We can only control so much."
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire