Texas Rangers Week Six Review: The Rangers are for Real

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IMay 18, 2009

The Ballpark in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers, Arlington, Texas, July 1995.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Rangers went into last week with the lead in the AL West for the first time since the opening weekend.  Holding a narrow half game lead on the healthier by the day Angels and the hot starting Mariners, the Rangers were hosting a three game series against both teams.

Almost all of national media outlets stating that the Angels were now going to take command and run away with the AL West division again.  This was the Rangers opportunity to make a statement in the race for the West.

I said in last weeks review that this was a huge week for the team in their attempts to stay ahead in the AL West and get some attention as a legitimate team.  Said that the team needed a 4-2 week to prove that we are going to be a contender this season, and how does the team respond?

They sweep the whole week, 6-0 over the Mariners and Angels.  For those that were unable to either go to a game, see, or listen to the games this week, my condolence.

It was an incredible week, full of walk-off wins, multiple come from behind rallies, quality pitching, great defense all-around, some spectacular highlight reel defensive plays, and a Josh Hamilton 460-ft HAM-BOMB.

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: W, 7-1 (18-14)

This game marked the return of Josh Hamilton from the DL and Michael Young was back in the lineup after taking off three days to rest and recover.  The Rangers and Mariners were involved in another pitchers duel with only one run on a Chris Davis's ninth home run in the sixth. 

But the Ranger offense came alive with a six run seventh inning.  The inning was highlighted by a Hamilton two-run, opposite field home run.  Derek Holland got his first career win with 1.2 innings of perfect relief for Scott Feldman.  Feldman got another bad luck no decision as he went 6.1 innings allowing only one run on four hits.

Wednesday: W, 6-5 (11)(19-14)

The Rangers came from behind three separate times to get the win in this game.  Hamilton's fifth inning, two-run bomb was his second home run in as many days and fourth of the season, tied the game at 3-3.  Next inning Elvis Andrus's RBI triple tied the score again at four.

The game eventually went to the 11th inning and the Rangers allowed a run in the top of the inning, but Hank Blalock's walk-off two-RBI double to deep, right-center field completed the third and final comeback of the game.

Thursday: W, 3-2 (20-14)

As if one walk-off win over the Mariners wasn't enough, the Rangers did it again. 

Matt Harrison started, went all nine innings giving up just two earned runs on five hits and struckout seven.  He was on the line however for the loss until the bottom of the ninth.

Blalock led the inning off with his tenth home run of the season, but Texas was still down one.  After a double from David Murphy, Davis blasted a Brandon Morrow fastball to deep center field for the walk-off home run.

It was Morrow's second loss and blown save in as many days as the hands of Ranger bats.

Friday: W, 10-8 (21-14)

Coming into this series the Rangers led the Angels by 1.5 games in the AL West, this was a huge series for both teams to make a statement about the divisional race in 2009.

The Ranger bats would face the hottest Angel pitcher so far this season in Joe Saunders (5-1).  But the Rangers wasted no time welcome him to the Ballpark scoring two in the first inning, highlighted by a RBI triple from Hamilton.

Texas struck again in the third with two two-run homers from Ian Kinsler and Andruw Jones, Kinsler would later hit his 13th home run of the season.  The Ranger offense also got another home run from Hamilton, his third in four games since returning from the DL.

The bullpen however struggled to close the game out as the Angels scored five runs in the ninth, but C.J. Wilson came in to stop the bleeding.  Wilson is getting the saves as closer Frank Francisco went on the DL with elbow tennitis.

Saturday: W, 3-2 (22-14)

Angel ace John Lackey was making his season debut, but it didn't quite go as well as he was hoping.  Lackey was tossed from the game two pitches in.  His first pitch of the game was thrown behind Kinsler head, after the next pitch hit Ian in the ribs, home plate umpire Bob Davidson had seen enough and tossed him.

Whether he was sending a message to Kinsler who hit two home runs the night before, Lackey was still upset about his last outing against Texas last season (2 IP, 12 hits, 10 runs), or he was simply trying to establish the inside part of the plate the Angel bullpen had to go all nine innings.

Both teams scored all their runs by the end of the fourth inning.  Texas played small ball with seven of their eight hits were singles and two sacrifice flies from Hamilton.  Ranger starter Vicente Padilla struggled early in the outing, but settled down after four innings and was near perfect over the next four.

Sunday: W, 3-0 (23-14)

In the final game of the series both starter completed in a good, old fashion pitchers duel.  Angel starter Jered Weaver pitched a complete game, allowing three earned runs on six hits and striking out seven.  Weaver allowed only one hit through the six innings, but the Ranger bats got to him after that.

Murphy's sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Blalock.  In the eighth the Rangers scored two more runs with RBI doubles from Kinsler and Marlon Byrd.

The highlight of the game however came in the seventh inning when Hamilton made a catch crashing into the right-center field wall that was best described by TV announcer Josh Lewin, "He is Superman!"  Hamilton would leave the game at the end of the inning with what the organization is calling a strained groin.

The Rangers won all six games on the homestand against divisional opponents, they have won seven straight games, the team has won 13 of their last 15 games, currently lead the AL West by 4.5 games, and the pitching staff is boasting the best May ERA in all of baseball.

Things won't be getting any easier as the Rangers now travel to Detroit for three game series against the AL Central leading Tigers.  At 20-16 they just came off a three-game sweep in which they obliterated the A's.  After that the Rangers will travel to Houston and open up interleague play against the Astros.

With the sweeping of both the Mariners and Angels the Rangers have put 4.5 game between themselves and the second place Angels (18-18), 5.5 ahead of the Mariners (18-20), and 8.5 ahead of the Athletics (13-21).


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