The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim came into Arlington riding a six-game win streak. The Texas Rangers were coming off arguably their worst three-game stretch of the season. The Rangers’ AL West division lead had gone from seven games to two games in a span of a week. But the Rangers cooled down the Angels in game one of a three-game weekend series on Friday night.
Nelson Cruz and David Murphy hit three home runs and drove in ten runs combined while Derek Holland pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run baseball as the Rangers beat the Angels 11-7. Cruz, mired in a 4-27 slump, was dropped to the 7-hole in the lineup but responded in a big way with a 4-5 night, including two monster home runs.
The Rangers got it all started in the second inning as Mike Napoli began with a single and Mitch Moreland followed with a double to make it runners at second and third with nobody out. Cruz cleaned up both guys with a hustling double to center to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Cruz was just getting started because in the fourth inning he launched his first home run of the game, 461 feet up onto Greene's Hill in center field, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. Texas broke the game open in the fifth inning as they loaded the bases without a ball leaving the infield, which set up Murphy’s grand slam just inside the right field foul pole. It was the second career grand slam for Murphy who finished the game 3-5 with those four RBIs.
The Rangers would add four more runs in the sixth inning as Michael Young and Napoli had back-to-back singles with one out before Moreland hit an RBI double. Cruz would then add his second home run of the game, this one a 417-foot three-run shot into the Angels’ bullpen to make it 11-0 Rangers.
Not to be forgotten in the offensive outburst was the quality start for Holland. After pitching 8 2/3 innings in a win in Anaheim on August 16th, Holland had another solid performance against the Halos last night. Holland struck out six and allowed eight hits on 107 pitches to improve to 12-5. He didn’t allow his only run until there were two outs in the seventh inning and left to a nice standing ovation from the Rangers’ faithful.
The final score wasn’t completely indicative of the way the Rangers played. Yoshinori Tateyama and Mark Lowe gave up late home runs to Russell Branyan and Howie Kendrick respectively to make the game somewhat close.
The Rangers recorded 18 hits with Endy Chavez the only one not getting into the hit column. The Rangers did a lot of their damage against Dan Haren, one of the better pitchers in the American League. Haren only lasted 4 1/3 innings as he gave up seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits as he dropped to 13-7. Game two of this AL West showdown will be tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM CT.