Andrus produces big hits from five-hole
ARLINGTON -- This is what an American League team expects from a No. 5 hitter at least occasionally: a two-run home run to put his team ahead, four RBIs, just being the catalyst to get a team out of an offensive funk.
"Nice five-hole hitter for us tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after a 6-2 win over the Twins on Friday night.
It's just that Elvis Andrus is not the prototypical No. 5 hitter. He batted either leadoff or No. 2 during the World Series years, but has been either sixth or seventh lately. He also entered Friday hitting .182 in his last 13 games, so it's not like he merited a promotion in the lineup.
But the Rangers have to improvise with Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton on the disabled list.
The Rangers trailed 1-0 going into the seventh before Andrus hit a two-run home run off Twins starter Tommy Milone. Andrus also had a two-run single in the eighth to give him a career-high four RBIs.
"Elvis stepped up big-time," Banister said. "He's been battling. He's been taking some good swings, been grinding. Hard work and real competitiveness paid off for the man tonight."
Milone took a one-hitter into the seventh. At that point the Rangers had gone 20 innings without scoring a run. Andrus was 0-for-2 off Milone when he came up with one on and one out.
"I was really disappointed in myself because I faced this guy so many times," Andrus said. "It's all about having a great plan, and I knew what I was trying to hit, but at the same time, I was still swinging at everything. That's what I told myself, 'No matter how good it looks, breaking pitch, look for that fastball, and don't miss it.' I'm really glad that I stick with my plan."
The home run gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Brian Dozier's home run in the top of the eighth tied the game, but the Rangers struck back.
Leonys Martin led off the eighth with a walk and was forced at second on Hanser Alberto's bunt attempt. Delino DeShields singled and both runners moved up to second and third as Shin-Soo Choo grounded to first off Twins left-handed reliever Brian Duensing.
That brought up Prince Fielder and Twins manager Paul Molitor intentionally walked him so that Duensing could face Mitch Moreland.
"Mitch is going to get the job done," Fielder said. "He knows what to do. Mitch is swinging the bat good. I definitely trust Mitch."
Moreland hit the first pitch on a line to deep center. Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks raced back and got to the ball, but couldn't make the catch. The ball bounded to the wall and two runs scored.
"In that situation, I'm just going up there trying to get a good pitch," Moreland said. "It happened to be the first one I saw, a fastball up in the zone. I was able to get the barrel on it, get the runs in, it worked out well."
The ball was ruled an error.
"Longest error I've ever seen," Banister said. "I'm shaking my head on that. That ball was hit as hard as you can hit it."
Andrus followed with his two-run single.