By Anthony Andro, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s hard to solve Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara so far this season.
The Oakland A’s found that out Friday night as Mazara had a career-high six RBIs as the Rangers won their first game of the season with a 10-5 victory.
Mazara hit his first career grand slam and helped Texas build an 8-0 lead as he became just the second Rangers player since the start of the 2013 season to have at least six RBIs in a game (J.P Arencibia, seven).
Mazara went 3-for-5 and is now hitting .588 on the season with multi-hit performances in each game.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Mazara said. “If I get my pitch right away that’s what I’m doing, I’m getting ready to hit and put a good swing on the ball early in the count if they throw it to me. I’m looking around where they’re playing, I have an idea what they’re trying to do to me. If there’s somebody on base, I try to look for a pitch middle in and square the ball up.”
The Rangers built an 8-0 lead by pounding starter Raul Alcantara (0-1) for the eight runs in just two innings. Texas scored three times in the first, with second baseman Rougned Odor crushing his third homer of the season and Mazara bringing in another run with a grounder. Mazara keyed a five-run second with his slam.
The big night at the plate made Mazara the first Texas player to have at least nine RBIs through four games.
“Well, he’s a special player,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “We saw this last year. When he does get locked in, when he’s holding the backside, when he’s using the entire field it’s hard to get the ball by him. It’s hard to get him to chase anything out of the zone.”
Oakland chipped away and chased Texas starter A.J. Griffin with three runs in the third and another in the fourth. Outfielder Matt Joyce’s three-run homer accounted for the third-inning runs and a solo homer from outfielder Khris Davis cut the Texas lead to 8-4 in the fourth.
Texas added some insurance in the sixth inning by scoring twice off Jesse Hahn. Outfielder Carlos Gomez, who made a home-run saving catch in the first inning, doubled home shortstop Elvis Andrus. Two batters later, Mazara lined a single to left to score Gomez.
Despite the run support, Griffin was gone after 3 1/3 innings as he allowed four runs on four hits. Lefty Alex Claudio (1-0) came in and shut the door to pick up the win, as he didn’t allow a run in 3 2/3 innings while giving up just one hit.
Alcantara gave up four hits, walked two and allowed two homers.
“It looked like the first few batters, he threw some good change-ups, good splits,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Then, just kind of went away from it a little bit. Centered some fastballs, and they hit ’em.”
Oakland did get a solid effort out of long man Hahn. Pitching in his first game of the season, he allowed just two runs over the final six innings and struck out three.
“I had the mindset to go out there and keep us in the ballgame,” Hahn said. “Just be aggressive and throw my fastball and just getting ahead of guys. It almost felt like a start because it was six innings.”
The Rangers finished with 11 hits, as Gomez, Odor and Shin-Soo Choo each had two. Joyce and Yonder Alonso each had two hits for Oakland.