Don’t be fooled by the low run total Friday afternoon at a sold-out Rangers Ballpark, warned manager Ron Washington.
The Texas Rangers are going to score a pile of runs in 2013, and games in which 11 runners are left on base will not be the norm.
But the Rangers are no longer the bashers that they have been historically, and Washington likes to explain that his team can win in any number of ways.
One version was on display in their home opener against the Los Angeles Angels, and that could be the way they win many of their games this season.
Derek Holland allowed two runs in seven innings, a bullpen question mark delivered, the team’s speed came into play late, and the Rangers’ offense did just enough in a 3-2 victory over the Angels.
“I wouldn’t say that’s the blueprint,” Washington said. “We’re capable of doing it many ways. I don’t want anyone to label us as just one type of team. We’re a type of team that will play whatever kind of baseball is being played that day.”
The Rangers showed a bit of everything in winning their fifth consecutive home opener. It started with more quality starting pitching, and included good relief work, the long ball and manufacturing a run with their speed.
Ian Kinsler had the winning hit, a sharp single to right field in the eighth, and Craig Gentry’s speed carried him home ahead of a strong throw from Josh Hamilton. Adrian Beltre homered in the seventh to tie the game, and Tanner Scheppers worked a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win.
The Rangers also received a key contribution from a left-handed hitter against a lefty starter, as A.J. Pierzynski had three hits against Jason Vargas and brought home the game’s first run with a second-inning triple.
“It was interesting, right?” Beltre said. “We won. That’s all we care about. We got some good offense going today, but we couldn’t capitalize on runs. But we kept the game close, and Derek did a terrific, terrific job.”
Holland made two bad pitches in the 94 he threw. Chris Iannetta belted the first pitch of the third for a home run, and Mike Trout bounced a 2-2 pitch off the left-field wall for a two-run double in the sixth.
Holland walked one and struck out five in seven innings. He also picked off Alberto Callaspo to save a run in the fifth, and got a big double-play ball from Callaspo in the seventh after a leadoff single.
“Overall, I think the performance was great,” Holland said. “Guys were making plays for me, doing everything, and they did their part. I gave them a chance to win, and they did it for me.”
Holland, though, was trailing 2-1 when he threw his final pitch. Beltre got him off the hook with a two-out liner that skipped off the top of the scoreboard in left field, and he initially didn’t know if his drive was a home run.
The Rangers’ eighth-inning run was also no sure thing after Scheppers blew through Peter Bourjos, Trout and Erick Aybar in a 1-2-3 top half.
Gentry reached against lefty Scott Downs on a looping single to right, and swiped second three pitches later. After pinch hitter Jeff Baker struck out, Kinsler ripped a 2-0 pitch to right field.
A charging Hamilton fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw was about a yard short as Gentry dived safely home.
The Rangers were only 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position and, as a result, left 11 runners. The second was Kinsler’s winner, and it was well overdue.
“Personally, I had a lot of chances,” he said. “Definitely we needed to get that one in the eighth there. At a time like that, I’m just trying to get a hit.”
Said Gentry: “Two outs, as soon as the ball hits the bat, I’m taking off. It was going to be close, but in that situation you have to gamble.”
The Rangers’ new third-base coach, Gary Pettis, didn’t hesitate, and he wasn’t the only one waving Gentry home.
“I was trying to stop Gary from not winding,” Washington said. “He was wound up and I was wound up, and that was a hell of a victory there. We grinded that game the whole way and finally got it done.”
The Rangers completed the job in a fashion that might start to look familiar this season.