The last time the Texas Rangers won three consecutive games at Globe Life Park they were in the middle of a stretch that put them back in the middle of the American League West hunt.
That was at the end of May and those warm feelings had just about dissipated with a string of home losses as July came to a close.
But a big-time trade and a winning streak have ignited those hopes again.
Texas won its third in a row Friday night, a 6-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants on a night that the two newest Rangers — pitchers Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman — were introduced to the 30,674 in attendance, after their acquisition in a trade from the Phillies was finally made official earlier in the day.
Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus both homered in the first two innings against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner to help spot Rangers starter Nick Martinez a 6-2 lead. Martinez, after allowing a run in each of the first two frames on a combined five hits, settled down and held the Giants to only two more hits over the next 4 1/3. He left with two on and one out in the seventh before Diekman, who arrived at the ballpark after the game had started, took over. All he did was retire the five batters he faced on 18 pitches.
“I was pretty nervous that first inning,” Diekman said. “After that, I felt pretty good. I faced the Giants a lot before, which is good, I know the hitters.”
Shawn Tolleson pitched the ninth and allowed a Brandon Crawford solo homer before closing it out.
The Rangers collected 10 hits, including nine against Bumgarner, whose six earned runs was the most he’s allowed since May 2013. Bumgarner took exception to Delino DeShields flipping his bat in the air in disgust after popping out in the fourth. Both dugouts cleared and met near the mound before order was quickly restored.
“[We showed] patience with some aggressiveness, too,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “Not giving up on any single pitch. He is a challenge to pick up with the release point. The at-bats have gotten better. More than anything else, we’ve settled in with our approach against those left-handers.”
Martinez settled in as well after preventing a big inning early. Two singles and a wild pitch allowed the Giants to take 1-0 lead in the first. In the second, three consecutive hits with two outs tied it at two. But between the third and sixth innings Martinez faced only one batter over the minimum. Banister noted that Martinez had better command with his inside fastball, an integral part of his pitching style.
“That was the key for Nick,” Banister said. “Once we put some runs on the board, he had the shut down innings and did not allow the big inning.”
And Diekman, fresh off a plane from Philadelphia, gave Rangers’ fans a preview of what they hope they see from Hamels, who makes his first start for Texas tonight.
“That’s what we got him for,” Banister said of Diekman, and later said of Hamels. “He let us know he was available and ready to pitch. We saw the need so we warmed him up and brought him in and glad we did. You saw why we were so interested in getting him here.”