ARLINGTON -- Entering Sunday, the Rangers were the only team in the Major Leagues without a grand slam in 2021. In fact, they hadn’t hit a grand slam since 2019. Adolis García changed that by launching the first Rangers’ grand slam this season, igniting an eight-run fifth inning for Texas.
The fifth-inning outburst was just one chapter of the Rangers’ 13-2 blowout win over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Field.
“That [fifth inning] was huge,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “We know how dangerous this lineup is. We were up 5-0, and then they scored two. It was a big inning for us to kind of come back. Even just scoring one there was big to let them know, ‘Hey, we're not going anywhere.’ We got some good pitches to hit, and Adolis capped it off right there with the grand slam.”
Woodward felt the execution was better across the board on Sunday, even as he’s seen progress over the last couple of weeks. The club’s 13 runs were the highest run total in almost two years, when Texas erupted for 16 against Kansas City in 2019.
Texas’ offense made itself known early and often, opening the game with three straight singles in a three-run first inning against Astros starter Zack Greinke. A Statcast-projected 450-foot solo shot from DJ Peters to lead off the fifth inning would eventually end Greinke’s day.
The Rangers weren’t done, as they went on to tag reliever Bryan Abreu for seven more runs on five hits. Texas scored more runs in the fifth inning (8) than they did in the previous two games against the Astros combined (6).
Every Rangers starter reached base on Sunday, with six batters notching multiple hits. García, who is already an AL Rookie of the Year candidate, had one of his best days at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a walk, a single, a double and a grand slam. Both he and Peters were a triple shy of the cycle.
“The game plan was to make sure that we attacked the zone, because [the Astros pitchers] were going to be around the plate,” García said. “These guys throw a lot of strikes. So the plan was to attack the zone and not miss the pitches in the zone. It seemed like everybody came together today.”
That’s been a point of emphasis for García, as he’s struggled through a second-half slump coming off the All-Star Game. He’s hitting just .238 in August, but has recently reemerged with a .281/.313/.547 slash line over his last 15 games.
He worked with the Rangers hitting coaches in recent weeks, learning to adjust to the league as the league adjusts to him.
“I’ve been working on hitting the ball in the zone and focusing on making sure that I don’t miss my pitch,” García said. “That's basically what I’ve been trying to do lately and it seems to be working. The fundamental part of hitting is to be able to make adjustments [during the] season. That is part of becoming a big leaguer and being successful.”
And while the Rangers’ offense was the most notable part of the blowout victory, starting pitcher Taylor Hearn impressed on the other side of the scorecard. The 6-foot-6 lefty tossed four perfect innings to start the day before a solo homer from Yordan Alvarez opened up the scoring for Houston.
The Astros only scored one more run off Hearn. It was the first quality start of Hearn’s career as he went a season-high 6 2/3 innings on a career-high 89 pitches.
“Taylor’s been one of our biggest bright spots of the year,” Woodward said. “Just the composer I talk about a lot and his demeanor out there. He feels like he belongs. He’s got confidence. He's throwing the ball with a ton of conviction. We're really proud of him, because there's been a maturity to Taylor. He's always wanted to start and now that he's getting the opportunity, he goes out and pretty much dominates against probably the best lineup in the American League.”