Hamels tallies first Rangers win vs. Tigers
DETROIT -- Mitch Moreland's two-run double in the sixth inning led the Rangers back from an early deficit and earned Cole Hamels his first win in a Texas uniform with a 4-2 victory over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Texas took the four-game series with three straight wins, moving to 1 1/2 games ahead of the Angels, who lost on Sunday, for the second Wild Card spot. The Rangers held Detroit to five runs over their three wins after a series-opening loss on Thursday night. Hamels, who had two no-decisions sandwiched around a loss since joining the Rangers before the July non-waiver Trade Deadline, delivered six quality innings despite giving up a pair of runs early. Hamels (7-8) looked like he was in trouble after allowing three straight hits from the bottom of the Tigers' order with one out in the fourth, but struck out Rajai Davis and induced an Ian Kinsler fly ball on a 2-0 pitch to escape.
"It really was a nice outing by Cole," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "He really had the fastball and the changeup working early in the game. I didn't feel like there were many balls off the barrel -- he was missing the barrel and getting balls jammed over the infield and lazy fly balls."
Chris Gimenez' leadoff homer in the third opened the Rangers scoring off Matt Boyd (1-4) before Moreland struck in the sixth. Mike Napoli's eighth-inning solo shot off Blaine Hardy added a critical insurance run for Shawn Tolleson's 25th save of the season.
Hamels had to be glad to get his first win out of the way after struggling in his first three outings with Texas.
"I felt like I've not contributed in a way I know I'm capable of doing," Hamels said of earning his first win as a Ranger. "I think that's more the case -- feeling more united with the team that I've actually pulled some weight around."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Slump buster: When he stepped to the plate with two aboard in the sixth inning, Moreland was mired in a 2-for-21 slump. He fell behind in the count, 0-2, before laying off a slider in the dirt. Boyd's next offering -- another slider -- hung over the heart of the plate, and the Rangers first baseman laced it into the right-field corner for a go-ahead two-run double. The hit marked his 20th multi-RBI game this year.
"Not a lot of hits," Banister said of his club's offensive production, "and none bigger than Mitch Moreland's ball that he drove down into the corner that put us ahead." More >
Iglesias ignites offense: Jose Iglesias has been batting further down in the lineup in recent days after his stint batting in front of Miguel Cabrera, but he had a quality at-bat in an RBI situation on Sunday, fouling off two tough inside pitches out of a 1-2 count before lining a high fastball back up the middle for a fourth-inning single. He drove in James McCann following his one-out triple.
Playing their ace: Hamels has steadily improved in each of his four outings for the Rangers, and Sunday's six-inning performance was enough to earn his first win in a Texas uniform. Hamels looked upset with himself in the fourth inning after throwing a belt-high fastball on a 1-2 count to Iglesias, who scored Castellanos from third base with a sharp single, but the southpaw escaped several jams and exited with the lead and a quality start.
"Being able to get out of that with one run or less is obviously a success," Hamels said, "but, at the end of the day, if you can get out with zero runs all the time, then obviously the game looks pretty easy."
Home run the Hardy way: Hardy was the last pitcher in the Majors with at least 40 innings this season to give up a home run, and had an 84 2/3-inning streak going since last summer, before Napoli made him pay for a rare hanging curveball with one out in the eighth. Napoli joined Astros catcher Jason Castro as the only hitters to homer off Hardy in his two-year career.
"Napoli's got a lot of power," Hardy said. "I don't know he generates as much power as he does when he takes those swings where he seems like he's just kind of reaching for it, but he gets good extension and hits the ball. It's my fault for making a mistake, left the changeup up. I felt like it was on the corner off the plate, and he was still able to get to it, so my hat's off to him." More >
Sunday marked Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre's 2,528th game in the Major Leagues, setting a new record for most by a Dominican player. His afternoon ended early, though, when he was ejected in the fifth inning by home-plate umpire Adam Hamari for disagreeing with a strike call during teammate Ryan Strausborger's at-bat. Texas manager Jeff Banister was tossed moments later in a confrontation with crew chief Ron Kulpa.
"My teammate over there [Prince Fielder] was the one that said something, and he said '84,' which is his number -- like, 'Yeah, it was me,'" Beltre explained. "I guess I was the ugly one and he threw me out." More >
Rangers: After an off-day Monday, Derek Holland will take the hill in Arlington against the Blue Jays in just his second Major League start since missing more than four months with a shoulder injury. The lefty allowed two runs over 6 1/3 frames Wednesday in his return. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Tigers: What was originally an off-day is now a travel day, as the Tigers head to Cincinnati on Monday to make up a rainout from their mid-June series against the Reds. Buck Farmer (0-2, 8.39) will make his fourth start of the season in the 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Great American Ball Park.
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