Rangers forge way back to .500 with Detroit rout
Texas scores nine runs off Verlander; Lewis picks up fourth win
DETROIT -- In the euphoria of what happened this weekend at Comerica Park, Rangers manager Ron Washington made one thing clear about first baseman Prince Fielder being out for the rest of the season.
"We miss Prince Fielder," Washington said. "We would not even dream that we don't need him in our lineup."
The Rangers also probably didn't dream that they could come into Comerica Park and score 35 runs on 57 hits in four games against the Tigers' pitching staff. Those numbers included 20 extra-base hits, a .363 batting average and a .561 slugging percentage.
But the Rangers did just that in taking three of four from the Tigers, finishing off their big weekend with a 12-4 victory on Sunday afternoon. The win put the Rangers back at .500 for the first time since May 13.
"It was huge for us," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "After what we have been through the last week and a half, to come in here and play well against a good team like Detroit, swing the bats well and pitch well, hopefully it will carry over for the rest of the road trip."
On Sunday it was the middle of the lineup that inflicted the most damage on Tigers starter Justin Verlander and five relievers. Elvis Andrus, Moreland, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios were a combined 10-for-20 with six runs scored and nine RBIs.
"Even when we had Prince Fielder in the lineup, we had some guys who were trying to figure some things out," Washington said. "Today our middle of the lineup did a great job. As long as they're going good, it takes a lot of pressure off the bottom of the lineup and those kids can focus on just getting better."
The Rangers are 5-3 in eight games without Fielder. They are hitting .303 with a .468 slugging percentage and 49 runs scored in those eight games. Two of those wins came over former Cy Young Award winners: Verlander and R.A. Dickey.
"It's about being consistent," Washington said. "If we continue to have good at-bats, good things are going to happen. We're happy with the results, but it's all about being consistent. We wanted to come in here and continue to play good baseball, and we did just that."
The Rangers worked over Verlander for nine runs in 5 1/3 innings. It's only the second time in 277 Major League starts that he has allowed nine runs in a game. The Rangers had 11 hits off him, only the fifth time in his career Verlander has given up that many.
"We were aggressive," Rios said. "The one thing we have been looking for is being aggressive at the plate and take advantage of hitters counts and we did that well this weekend."
Tigers starters had a 9.86 ERA in the four-game series while the Rangers rotation had a 4.01 ERA.
"It was obviously not a good series for us," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Our starters had a little bit of a rough series…you wouldn't expect that would be the case with our starters but every team goes through it. It was a rough patch. We're obviously not happy about it, but it's over so we're going to move on."
Rangers starter Colby Lewis had to work out of some early trouble but was able to earn his fourth win in eight starts. Lewis allowed two runs on five hits, five walks and two strikeouts while holding the Tigers to 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"I really had to go to pitching early and trying to make them swing at pitches I didn't want to put in the zone," Lewis said. "It led to more walks than I would have liked. Five walks is disappointing, but I just kept trying to make big pitches."
Both teams scratched out a run in the first before the Rangers went ahead in the second on a leadoff home run by Michael Choice. Robinson Chirinos followed with a double and scored on Verlander's throwing error off Rougned Odor's sacrifice bunt.
Lewis ran into trouble in the bottom of the second but was able to escape with the lead intact. He allowed one run but with runners at second and third with one out, he kept the Tigers from taking the lead. Shortstop Elvis Andrus made a terrific catch on Rajai Davis' line drive and Ian Kinsler flied out to center field. Lewis allowed just two hits over the next 4 2/3 innings.
The Rangers then scored five in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Shin-Soo Choo. Shortstop Andrew Romine misplayed Andrus' grounder for an error to put runners on the corners. Run-scoring singles by Moreland and Beltre made it 5-2 and Rios brought both home with a two-run triple. He scored on an infield single by Chirinos.
The Rangers added another run in the sixth on doubles by Andrus and Moreland. They made it 12-2 in the seventh on three straight two-out run-scoring singles by Andrus, Moreland and Beltre.