The Rangers had just seven hits on Sunday afternoon, one less than on Saturday night. But four went for extra bases and that made the difference for their struggling offense in a 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays. The win snapped the Rangers four-game losing streak during which they scored a total of six runs.
"They are the ones that have to get it done between the lines so it was nice to see them have a conversation among themselves," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
"We have to stay together as a team, that was the main word for us today," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, another leader in the pregame assembly. "Don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you don't do the job, trust your teammate behind you is going to do it. Let's all be together. That's what we need to do to get back as a team."
Mitch Moreland had the big hit with a two-run home run in the seventh inning off Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. It was Moreland's second home run of the season and first since April 9.
"We just wanted to go out and get back to playing Texas Rangers baseball and trust each other as a teammate," Moreland said. "We know we're capable of doing special things as a team and this was a good first step."
Aaron Poreda earned his second win of the season in relief of Nick Martinez, who allowed one run in five innings. Martinez, starting for the first time since April 22, allowed four hits, three walks and had three strikeouts before Poreda, rising reliever Shawn Tolleson and closer Joakim Soria did the rest.
The Rangers weren't sure what they would get from Martinez after he had gone almost four weeks without starting, but he gave them five innings on 84 pitches and left with a 2-1 lead.
"Poise … and he has pitchability," Washington said. "He had a good changeup and kept hitting the bottom part of the strike zone. He got into the fifth and started getting the ball up but he gave us everything we needed. It all started with Martinez keeping us in the game."
The only run against Martinez was a fourth-inning home run by Juan Francisco that gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. But the Rangers struck back against Dickey in the bottom of the fourth with their first extra base hit in 24 innings. Shin-Soo Choo reached on an infield hit, Dickey walked Beltre and Alex Rios brought them home with a triple to right-center. That was the Rangers' first extra base since the seventh inning against the Astros on Wednesday.
"When you get big hits like that, it gives you momentum and gets you going," Rios said. "It was good to see guys picking each other up today. You could say it was an uplift. It was not a change of attitude. Our attitude is the same. But we uplifted each other."
For the second time in three starts, Martinez left with a lead and didn't get a win. He has a 2.28 ERA but is still looking for his first Major League victory. Poreda took over in the sixth and gave up a game-tying home run to Edwin Encarnacion.
But the Rangers regained the lead in the seventh. Dickey was still out there when Rios led off with a grounder to Francisco, the Blue Jays' third baseman whose throw pulled first baseman Adam Lind off the bag. Moreland, hitless in his last 12 at-bats, then crushed a 1-2 knuckleball over the right-field wall to put the Rangers ahead.
"I just wanted to see him up in the zone," Moreland said, "He can be pretty nasty if he keeps it down. Getting one up in the zone, that's the key. It's not easy, you still have to grind out your at-bat."
The triple by Rios and the home run by Moreland were the only two balls hit out of the infield against Dickey on the afternoon.
"Just bizarre," Dickey said. "You kind of marvel, at least I do, at the game that we play. Today was one of those days where I had a good knuckleball, it was late in the zone. I left one up in a crucial situation and Moreland did a good job with it. It was a hard knuckleball, up, kind of in, he pulled his hands through and hit a homer. That's usually not the difference in the game when you've given up a homer, a triple and an infield single but today it was."
The Rangers added two more in the eighth against reliever Todd Redmond as Andrus led off with a single and scored on a double by Choo. Beltre brought home Choo with a single.