Rangers answer questions in series vs. Angels
APR 07, 2013 11:20p ET
But they did find out that their offense can still put up runs despite the absence of Josh Hamilton. They did find out that their new bullpen has some strong arms, as Tanner Scheppers stole the show Sunday night. The question of how Hamilton would be received in his return to Texas was also answered.
Most importantly, Sunday's 7-3 victory over the Angels gave the Rangers the series win in the first of six series between the two American League West rivals.
The Rangers did that by rallying from two runs down early and also despite a short outing by Yu Darvish because of an issue with his right ring finger.
"It was good that we won it," said Texas designated hitter Lance Berkman, whose two-run homer off Jered Weaver in the bottom of the first tied the game at 2. "I think it's going to be hotly contested all year long. We've got a lot more games with them. I'm glad to hold serve here at home."
The Rangers did that despite Darvish not being nearly as effective as he was in his near perfect game in Houston. In that game, he developed a blister and pitched through it. He couldn't do that Sunday as a flap of skin fell off. He exited after five innings with the Rangers clinging to a 4-3 lead.
But the Texas offense and a solid bullpen made sure that lead would stand up for Darvish (2-0). Ian Kinsler smacked a three-run homer to right off former Texas reliever Mark Lowe to break the game open in the sixth.
The fact that Kinsler homered wasn't a surprise. The fact that it came off Lowe surprised no one who'd seen Lowe pitch in Texas either. But the ball sailing over the wall in right field was the real shocker. He's only hit three homers to right in his career.
"That same at-bat I hit one into their [third-base] dugout at about 100 mph," said Kinsler, who went 3 for 3. "That was a big situation. My thought there was just make sure I got the guy in from there. I can't say that it was less than luck that I hit it out to right, but I did my job and the ball happened to go over the fence."
The Texas bullpen did the rest as Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. The revamped relief staff has allowed just four runs in the first six games.
Scheppers pitched two innings Sunday, needing just 22 pitches to get the job done and striking out two while pitching the seventh and eighth innings with the game still in doubt.
"Every single one of the guys in the bullpen is great and we can all get the job done," said Scheppers, who relied heavily on his two-seam fastball. "A lot of the guys have done it for a while. We're just happy to go out there when our name's called."
Hamilton was called plenty of names in the series but the Rangers kept him in check. He did have three hits Sunday and he scored a run. But Texas was able to keep him from doing any damage.
He had a chance to come up big in the first inning, batting with no outs and the bases loaded. He hit into a run-scoring double play though to end the chance at a big inning.
Darvish also allowed a run in the fifth inning. He was nowhere near as sharp as he was in Houston, walking four and allowing six hits. But he did hang around long enough to get the win and he should be able to make his next start in Seattle.
"We're playing good baseball," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We're certainly playing against a very good club. Yesterday (an 8-4 Angels' win) they came out and they swung the bats and put some runs on the board. Tonight we came out and swung out and put some runs on the board. We pitched well. We played good defense. We got some timely hitting. That's what our intentions are, to continue to win series."
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