DETROIT – The new guys are giving the Texas Rangers a new look and some new hope.
Texas has made more than a half-dozen moves since July 31 and the key additions or returnees have been playing a big role in the advance the Rangers have made into taking a tenuous grip on the second wild-card spot.
Veteran Mitch Moreland’s two-run double in the sixth inning Sunday brought Texas from behind for a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers, the third straight win for a Rangers’ team that holds the wild card with slight leads over the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles.
One of the newcomers is lefty Cole Hamels (7-8), who continually staved off trouble in his six innings of work, during which he allowed two runs on eight hits plus two walks to get the win for Texas. Hamels walked two.
Three Rangers relievers took it from there. Right-hander Keone Kela, prospering since his recall from the minors Aug. 11, limited Detroit to a single in the seventh. Right-hander Sam Dyson, a July 31 pickup from the Miami Marlins, pitched the eighth and right-hander Shawn Tolleson, staking a claim on the closer’s job in his second season with the Rangers, got his 25th save for working the ninth.
Detroit held a 2-1 lead when first baseman Moreland ripped his two-run double to right in the sixth. Matt Boyd (1-4) had hit right fielder Shin-Soo Choo with an 0-2 pitch to begin the inning and shortstop Elvis Andrus, inserted when third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected for objecting to ball/strike calls from the dugout in the fifth, beat out a
bunt single to first.
Texas manager Jeff Banister was ejected along with Beltre, who said after the game he was ejected because Prince Fielder, given a day off, did an excellent imitation of him jabbering about ball/strike calls in the dugout.
Designated hitter Mike Napoli, who was traded from Boston to Texas on Aug. 7, gave Texas an add-on run in the eighth when he hit his 15th home run, a solo shot to left that was the first home run allowed by Tigers’ southpaw Blaine Hardy since last June.
“The new guys have been a shot in the arm for us,” Moreland said. “They’ve taken us to another level. It’s been good to get them here. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Lefty Jake Diekman, who came with Hamels from the Phillies, has been a boon as late-inning relief help while veteran outfielder Will Venable has contributed since being acquired from San Diego. Another outfielder, Ryan Strausborger, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 4, has been a plus.
Left-hander Derek Holland, recently returned from being out since an opening-day arm injury, takes a 1-1 record into his Tuesday start against Baltimore.
Detroit rookie left-hander Boyd allowed three runs in six innings, giving up five hits while walking two and striking out three.
“Overall he was fine,” manager Brad Ausmus said of Boyd. “He had a little trouble throwing strikes early on. I just felt the command wasn’t where he wanted it.
“He seems like a competitor. He’s had a couple games like that where he’s given up some runs earlier, put himself in precarious situations and been able to work out of them. So he doesn’t look like he gets rattled too much. He seems to focus on the task at hand.”
Detroit Catcher James McCann tripled with one out in the fourth and scored on a sharp single to center by shortstop Jose Iglesias to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez tied the score, 1-1, in the third when he hit his third home run onto the roof of the Texas bullpen in left center. Gimenez and Bobby Wilson, added from Tampa Bay, have been a nice platoon behind the plate.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first on back-to-back singles by second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, the first of which scored when Choo threw the ball into the Detroit dugout. It broke a run of 19 scoreless Tigers innings.
Detroit stranded nine baserunners out of 11 put on base.
“When teams struggle,” Ausmus said, “you either don’t get hits or scatter hits. We got hits, but we were never able to get the big hit.
“That’s certainly been a repeated theme. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. There was a stretch earlier this season where it happened a number of times. For whatever reason, sometimes a double play, sometimes a strikeout.”