The honeymoon is over, literally and figuratively. Literally my honeymoon is over and now begins married life, thanks to all for helping out with the Rangers and be patience while I took a week off.
Figuratively the Rangers honeymoon of leading the West is over and now that have a bit of a deficit to overcome.
Monday: Home Run Derby
Not Josh Hamilton this year, but Nelson Cruz represented the Texas Rangers as one of the eight competitors in the 2009 Home Run Derby.
With Hamilton as his coach and support, Cruz wasted no time making a name for himself in the derby. Still a rather unknown player throughout many baseball circles, he blasted 11 home runs to start the derby off.
The 11 long balls would put him into a tie with Milwaukee Brewer slugger Prince Fielder after the first round. In the second round Nellie, only needed five home runs to bring his total to 16 and advance to the finals.
In the final round, Cruz was matched against Fielder. Nelson hit first and was able to launch five more balls over the fence, but it would not be enough to outlast Fielder who hit his sixth with nine outs.
Tuesday: AL def. NL, 4-3
Once again the American League continued their All Star Game dominance over the National League. The “Junior” League was not lost to the “Senior” League for 13-straight years now since the NL's 1996 win at Veterans Stadium.
Texas sent Hamilton, Cruz, and Michael Young to the All Star Game this year. Hamilton was voted in by the fans as the starting center fielder, Young was voted in as a reserve by the players and coaches. However with the injury to Evan Longoria, Young got the start. Cruz was also a late addition due to the injury to Torii Hunter.
Hamilton and Young each went 1-3 at the plate and Hamilton added an RBI on a groundout in the first inning. The only down side was a Hamilton throwing error to Young at third in the second inning that allowed the NL to score. Cruz did not get into the game.
Wednesday and Thursday: OFF
Friday: L, 5-3 (48-40)
In the first game back after four days off, the Rangers dropped the opener to the visiting Minnesota Twins.
The Rangers got off on the right foot when Hamilton blasted his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the first inning.
But starting pitcher Vicente Padilla could not hold the lead, as the Twins scored twice in the next half inning and then three more times in the third off a Jason Kubel three-run homer.
The Rangers added another Hamilton RBI single in the fifth, but could not get anything done against the Twins bullpen, which pitched four scoreless innings.
Saturday: L, 4-1 (48-41)
In a pitcher’s duel Twins starter Scott Baker ousted Ranger starter Scott Feldman. Feldman had another quality start, going six innings and allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five and walking none.
However, Baker went eight innings, allowing only one run on six hits and striking out eight.
The Ranger offense came primarily from Cruz, going 3-4 with a double and solo home run, his 23rd of the season.
Sunday: W, 5-3 (12) (49-41)
Ian Kinsler led the Ranger charge to avoid a five-game losing streak, a three-game losing streak to start the second half of the season, and another sweep.
On the second pitch of the bottom of the first inning, Kinsler blasted Twin starter Francisco Liriano for his 21st home run of the season. In the 12th inning he hit his 22nd off of former Ranger R.A. Dickey, this time is was a two-run, walk-off home run.
After falling behind 3-1, the Rangers used small ball in the middle innings to bring themselves back into a tie with the Twins.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had never completed the sacrifice bunt at the Major League level. Last night he did it twice.
With the win, the Rangers brought themselves back to within three games of the Angels (52-38). And not to forget about the again surging Mariners, who trail the Angels now by only four games (49-43). The A’s (38-52) have again fallen out of the picture, now 14 games out of first place.
This week, the Rangers play host to the Boston Red Sox for three games before travelling to Kansas City for a weekend series. Texas needs a solid week as the Angels travel to Kansas City first and then head home for a series against the Twins.