ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays were determined not to wait around and let Rangers starter Cole Hamels get ahead in the count. They were trying to avoid futilely chasing his changeup like the Athletics did five days ago in Oakland.So they went after the fastball early, and their plan worked.
ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays were determined not to wait around and let Rangers starter Cole Hamels get ahead in the count. They were trying to avoid futilely chasing his changeup like the Athletics did five days ago in Oakland.
So they went after the fastball early, and their plan worked. Home runs by Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales in the first inning gave the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead and they went on to a 7-4 victory over the Rangers on Sunday.
Hamels allowed seven runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five after having 11 in five innings in his previous outing against Oakland. That was because of the Blue Jays.
"More than anything, it was the approach they took early on," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "They attacked early on the fastball and were very aggressive. It seems like the damage was done on pitches over the plate."
That bothered Hamels as much as the pitch selection.
"I left a couple of fastballs up in the zone to [Pearce and Morales]," Hamels said. "They hit the ball really well when it's up -- the type of pitch that I wanted to execute -- I just didn't execute it. That hurts in a situation where it's the first inning, and you put the team down by a lot of runs. You just have to be able to execute early."
Hamels didn't, and the Rangers spent the rest of the afternoon chasing the Blue Jays. They had their chances, especially late after Joey Gallo's two-run home run made it 7-3 in the sixth. Texas had the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings and came away with just one run. The club left 11 runners on base overall, six of them in those two innings. The Rangers were 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position but hitless in their last four at-bats.
"Was it tough? You have to look at the opportunities," Banister said. "I like that we hit some balls hard. If we continue to hit the ball hard, we are going to break through in those situations. I'll take our chances if we continue to put runners on bases."
There were also a couple of defensive plays that didn't get made, which helped the Blue Jays pad their lead.
Toronto, leading 4-1, had bases loaded and one out in the fourth when Kevin Pillar hit a hard grounder back up the middle. Hamels went for it, but it kicked off his shoe and went for an infield single. If the ball had gone through Hamels, second baseman Jurickson Profar said he was in position to turn an inning-ending double play.
"My foot landed right in front of my glove, so it's one of those things that kind of makes it tough," Hamels said. "You see it off the bat, you reach for it, and then you get a ricochet. Sometimes you wish it completely goes through and doesn't even make contact with you, because I know Profar was behind me."
A throwing error by shortstop Elvis Andrus set up two unearned runs for the Blue Jays in the top of the sixth. Randal Grichuk had a one-out RBI double and Aledmys Diaz drove him home with a two-out single to give the Blue Jays a 7-1 edge.
"Cole is a great thinking pitcher," Banister said. "He knows how to pitch, and he has command and feel. They had a good approach on him early and he made a couple of adjustments. They got a couple of balls through the infield to set up some runners in scoring position. Ten ground balls, four went through for hits and a couple of plays behind him that we don't make."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First-pitch home run: The first pitch of the game by Hamels was an 89-mph fastball that Pearce crushed over the left-field wall for a leadoff home run, the first of Pearce's career. The leadoff homer was the second one Hamels allowed this season, as Astros slugger George Springer matched the feat on Opening Day. Morales hit his home run off a fastball with two on and one out in the first.
"If I could take one pitch back, I definitely would take back that pitch to Morales," Hamels said. "I think you look at where that's located, that's kind of a sweet zone. A guy's got enough power, that's what he does: he's supposed to hit homers. I make a pitch right there, and it could be a double play, it could be an out, it could be a swing and a miss. So that one pitch right there really kind of dictated the game and changed everything."
Tepera shuts off rally: The Rangers' best chance of overcoming the Blue Jays came in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out and Adrian Beltre and Gallo due up. But reliever Dennis Tepera struck out Beltre, getting him to chase on a 3-2 slider outside. Gallo then popped out to end the threat with the Blue Jays still holding a four-run lead.
"Oh, yeah. [Tepera]'s got the bases loaded and they're ready to strike," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "And [he gets] a big strikeout of Beltre and then he got Gallo, who's as dangerous as anybody in the game. We bent a little bit, but we didn't break."
• Rangers exercising caution with Lincecum
"It's only a matter of time for everybody to start feeling comfortable. Keep creating opportunities, sooner or later everything will come through."
-- Andrus, on the Rangers' offense
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bartolo Colon took over in the seventh for the Rangers. It was the 10th relief appearance of his career as opposed to 529 starts. Of the 47 pitchers all-time with at least 500 career starts, Colon is one of 10 who have 10 or less relief appearances. Tom Glavine (682 starts) and Carsten Sabathia (511) never pitched in relief.
BELTRE TIES FOXX, WILLIAMS
Beltre had a double in the sixth inning for the 1,117th extra-base hit of his career. That ties him with Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams for 18th all-time. He needs one more hit to tie Craig Biggio for 23rd all-time. Beltre has 3,059 hits in his career.
Beltre leads the Rangers into a three-game series against the Angels with the first one scheduled for 7:05 pm. CT Monday in Arlington. Beltre has 45 career home runs against the Angels, his most against any team. He is tied with Harmon Killebrew for third-most home runs ever against the Angels. Doug Fister pitches for the Rangers.
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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.