Clutch hitting, lineup tweak pay off vs. White Sox

May 11th, 2016

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister refers to it as "constructing a lineup." The old phrase was "tinkering," but managers, with all the new information available, put much more time and effort into their lineup these days.

Either way, the new order Banister ran out on Wednesday fit well together against White Sox starter Matt Latos as the Rangers once again rallied for a 6-5 victory.

"Yeah, I think you could see that lineup again," Banister said.

It included Nomar Mazara in the third spot for the first time this season. Ian Desmond batted second and Prince Fielder was in the fifth spot for the second straight game. Prior to that, he had never batted below the cleanup spot in his three years with the Rangers.

All three had big games. Desmond went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Mazara was 2-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly and Fielder was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. It's the first time this season Fielder has had two extra-base hits in one game.

"I guess [the lineup] worked pretty good," Desmond said.

The bottom part of the order also helped. Ryan Rua, after hitting a game-winning homer on Tuesday night, returned on Wednesday and went 2-for-3. He had the single and stolen base -- his second in the Major Leagues -- to start the go-ahead rally in the sixth. Bobby Wilson was 1-for-3 with an important sac bunt in the sixth.

"We talk about lineups, but when you get contributions from the bottom of the order, that makes the whole process go," Banister said.

So does delivering with runners in scoring position, and the Rangers continue to excel in that category. The Rangers were 4-for-13 on Wednesday in those situations and are hitting .311 on the season, the highest in the American League.

"That's what we are supposed to do," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "Create situations and capitalize on it. We have been good so far. Hopefully it will be that way all year."

The Rangers also lead the AL with a .305 batting average when there are runners in scoring position and two outs. Their .205 average in those situations last year were the second lowest in the league.

"That's big," Fielder said. "When you're scoring runs with two outs, that gives you a little more momentum and deflates the other team."

Fielder, with the Rangers trailing 4-2 in the fifth, knocked a two-out, two-run double in the fifth to tie the game. The two-out hits were also flowing in the sixth when the Rangers overcame the White Sox 5-4 lead.

Rua led off the sixth with a single against Latos, stole second and was bunted to third by Wilson. Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings took over and retired Rougned Odor on a popup. But Desmond, Mazara and Beltre delivered three straight singles to give the Rangers the lead.

"That's the team approach we emphasized in Spring Training," Banister said. "We wanted to concentrate on keeping the ball in the middle of the field in those situations and driving it into the gaps. … See pitches, force pitchers back in the zone and over the plate where you want it. That something we'll continue to work on and continue to improve on."