July 30, 2012

Texas Rangers swamped by nine-run sixth inning

Kendrys Morales pokes two homers to fuel Angels' big inning.

ARLINGTON -- Here are some strange-but-true facts about Monday's game at Rangers Ballpark:

The Texas Rangers collected their first hit with a runner in scoring position in 30 tries.

They held a lead after two innings and were tied after five.

Their worst hitter this month, Josh Hamilton, had three hits.

Nelson Cruz hit one to Waxahachie.

But all of that might as well have not happened, because it didn't matter because of a runaway sixth inning against Roy Oswalt.

Kendrys Morales hit two homers in the sixth, including a grand slam, as Los Angeles scored nine times to pull away to a 15-8 victory in the opener of a four-game series.

The win moved the Angels into second place in the American League West, four games behind the Rangers, pending the outcome of Oakland's late game against Tampa Bay.

Oswalt (3-2) surrendered eight runs overall and five in the sixth in his first start since suffering tightness in his lower back July 20. He said his back was fine, but he could never find a rhythm with his mechanics.

"I never had a consistent arm slot," Oswalt said. "I couldn't get my downward plane on the ball. It just kept coming up and up. I actually felt pretty well."

That's the good news for the Rangers, who appear unable to find a trade for a starting pitcher. Their big acquisition could end up being the signing of Oswalt in late May.

The right-hander said that the more he throws, the better he will get. He hadn't pitched since working into the seventh inning July 17 to beat Oakland.

He thought he was finding his rhythm and a consistent arm slot then, and believes he can discover it again heading down the stretch.

"Let's hope so," he said. "I think I've got 11 or 12 more starts to go. I should be ready to go."

Hamilton, Cruz and Mike Napoli hit homers for the Rangers. Hamilton's homer was an opposite-field drive that pulled the Rangers even in the fourth, and Napoli hit a solo shot in the eighth.

Cruz's homer was one of the most impressive hit in the Ballpark's history. The two-run shot cleared Greene's Hill in center field and hit atop the three-foot wall that serves as the front of the camera well to the left of the Batter's Eye Club.

It was estimated at 453 feet.

The problem was that Morales hit 737 feet worth of homers in the sixth, a two-run shot off Oswalt to give the Angels a 5-3 lead and a grand slam with two outs off Robbie Ross.

Morales become only the third player in major-league history to homer from each side of the plate in the same inning. Maicer Izturis and Mike Trout also homered off Oswalt.

The Rangers had given Oswalt a lead with a two-run third. The second run scored on a David Murphy fly ball that Trout lost in the sun for an RBI double that snapped the Rangers' 0-for-29 funk with runners in scoring position.

"I don't think you guys believe me when I say I'm not worried about our offense because I'm not," said Michael Young, who drove in two runs on sacrifice flies. "We're going to be fine, we're going to continue to work hard, and things are going to start to go our way. "

But the first Morales homer was the beginning of the end.

"I wasn't concerned about that. We were still in the game," manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't put a Band-Aid on it to stop the bleeding."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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