Gentry, Ogando help keep Rangers clicking as Red Sox fall

05/05/2013 9:54 AM

05/16/2013 6:10 PM

Here’s a Cliffs Notes-style look at some of the storylines from the first 30 games for Texas Rangers, gathered from a sampling of media reports and Twitter meltdowns:

They didn’t hit consistently enough, especially with men on base.

Their base running, at times, was lousy.

They lost a game to Houston.

But only a handful for teams in club history has ever had early pitching as good as these Rangers, and only one team in franchise history has ever had a better record after 30 games.

The Rangers won again Saturday night, getting six quality innings from Alexi Ogando and a homer and three RBIs from Craig Gentry en route to a 5-1 victory over Boston.

At 19-11, the Rangers have the second-best record in the American League and will open play Sunday in first place in the AL West for a 14th consecutive day.

“We know we’re a good team,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who hit the 28th leadoff homer of his career.

“We’re going to try to win every day regardless of how we do it — if the offense is struggling, if our pitchers are struggling, if we’ve got to hit home runs, if we’ve got to play small ball, whatever it might be.

“You can point out flaws all you want, but if we’re winning games, come September you’re not going to remember what our flaws were in April.”

Ogando didn’t have an easy night en route to his first victory since April 8. He surrendered a double to David Ortiz to start the second and issued a one-out RBI single to Daniel Nava as Boston quickly erased Kinsler’s sixth homer of the season.

But Gentry put the Rangers back in front 3-1 in the fourth by legging out a bases-loaded chopper to third base. Adrian Beltre scored from third, and A.J. Pierzynski came home when Will Middlebrooks’ throw got away from first baseman Mike Napoli.

Ogando (2-2) pitched to one batter in the seventh, surrendering a single to Middlebrooks before giving way to Robbie Ross. But Tanner Scheppers got the biggest out of the game to end the inning, as Dustin Pedroia grounded out with runners at second and third.

Gentry provided some breathing room in the eighth as he took Koji Uehara over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.

“He left a pitch up, and I was able to square it up,” said Gentry, who hit the third homer of his career but only the second to clear a fence. “I’m still not a home run hitter.”

But his contributions give merit to the Rangers’ claims that they can win in a variety of ways. They can win with the speed Gentry and others possess, or they can use the long ball from just about anyone.

Of the 13 position players on the roster, 10 have homered. Yet, the Rangers won the series opener Friday with 18 hits, none of which left the ballpark.

Pitching, though, has carried the Rangers to an early 2 1/2-game division lead. The Rangers have allowed one run in 18 innings to the Red Sox, who entered the weekend as the second-highest scoring team the AL.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have the league’s best ERA.

Ogando, like the other four starters in the rotation, has a sub-4.00 ERA. He didn’t have an easy night against the Red Sox, but they were only 1 for 8 against him with runners in scoring position.

“I couldn’t locate all my pitches, and some of the hitters took advantage of that,” Ogando said. “Even though you have runners on base, you have to battle it out, you have to grind it out, and that’s what I had to do today.”

In other words, he found a way to win. The Rangers have done that better through 30 games than all but the 2012 team (20-10) despite the flaws that so many like to point out.

“We can play baseball,” manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten away from that statement. Some nights we play it a little ugly, but some nights we play it really well. But we can play baseball.”

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