This is a big week for the Rangers, make no mistake about that. Texas comes into the week leading the AL West, but the Angels are only a half-game back and the Mariners 1.5 games back. To help out the Rangers got Josh Hamilton back off the DL, and Michael Young returned to the lineup for the first time since last Friday (back spasm).
Texas hosts Seattle and then Los Angeles in three-game series this week. Therefore a good week can give the Rangers a solid lead in the division and make a statement, not only for the team but the opposition as well. On the other hand if the Rangers struggle this week they could easily find themselves in third in the division.
In a game where the wind was blowing the ball to right-center field, this started off as a pitching duel early on. Neither team could get a run across the plate until Chris Davis hit his ninth home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth.
Seattle's starter Jason Vargas, making the start for the injured Carlos Silva, would allow only the one run in his five innings of work. Texas's starter Scott Feldman struggled through the first inning, throwing 26 pitches, but settled down and was near flawless for six innings.
After the first inning Feldman only allowed one hit and one walk, both to Ken Griffey Jr., through the next four innings. He got the first out of the seventh, but was pulled after allowing back-to-back hits which included an RBI double from Kenji Johjima.
Derek Holland came in relief with the go-ahead run in scoring position. No problem as Holland forced the Mariner hitters into consecutive ground outs to get out of the jam.
Then the Ranger bats awoke.
Josh Hamilton hasn't played in a game since April 26, he had been struggling in the season so far with only two home runs and 10 RBI, and he was struggling in this game. Going into the seventh inning he was 0-3 with five runners left on base.
With one out and Michael Young at first, Hamilton launched the ball to left-center field and into the wind for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead.
And the Texas bats were not done yet. After the home run from Hamilton, Andruw Jones singled and then Marlon Byrd drilled his 13th double of the season. Nelson Cruz's sacrifice fly to deep right field drove in his 22nd RBI of the season and advanced both runners.
Byrd would then score on a fielding error from first baseman Russell Branyan off the bat of Davis. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove Davis in from first with a double down the right field line, Salty advanced to third on the throw home. Texas got the sixth and final run of the inning on an RBI single from Elvis Andrus.
Hamilton did have an opportunity at the end of the inning with the bases loaded, but struck out swinging and swinging for the fence I might add.
Holland came back in and pitched a perfect eighth inning. His 20 pitch, 14 strike, five out, zero baserunner outing was good enough to get the youngster his first career win.
Hamilton went 1-5 in his return to the lineup, though he did leave eight runners on base, his seventh inning two-run homer eventually won the game for the team. In his return to the starting lineup Young went 3-3, drew two walks, and scored the winning run on the Hamilton home run.
With the win over Seattle and the Red Sox defeating the Angels in the ninth, Texas now has a 1.5 game lead on the Angels and 2.5 game lead on the Mariners in the AL West.
Tonight the Mariners send Jarrod Washburn (3-2) to the mound and Brandon McCarthy (3-1) looks to rebound from his last outing when he was rocked by the Oakland hitters.