Small ball comes up big for Rangers

Club hits no homers, but produces with men on base

April 17th, 2016

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were out-muscled by the American League's top home run-hitting team Saturday night. The Orioles hit three home runs while the Rangers did not go deep.

It didn't matter. The Rangers were relentless for most of the night with their at-bats, and it finally paid off with a six-run seventh inning that carried them to an 8-4 victory over the Orioles at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers have won four of the five games this season in which they did not hit a home run. They were 23-42 in those games last season.

"It's definitely a good sign," designated hitter Prince Fielder said. "The home runs are going to start coming for us, but we have to keep getting hits with runners in scoring position. Those are the things that are going to help you win down the road."

The Rangers are hitting .308 with runners in scoring position for the season, after going 4-for-11 on Saturday night. All four hits with men on came in the seventh-inning rally.

"Home runs are part of the game and there are going to be games where we hit more than the other team," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "It's all about scoring more runs than the other team and that's what we did tonight."

The Rangers have hit eight home runs through 13 games and have scored 61 runs. Last year they had hit 10 home runs through the first 13 games, but scored 51 runs and were hitting .218 with runners in scoring position.

"Last year at this point we were tending to give away at-bats," manager Jeff Banister said. "We weren't as grinding. Now we're looking at pitches, putting good [wood] on it, spoiling pitches, not chasing pitches, forcing the pitchers back into hitters' counts and then getting a good pitch to drive."

The Rangers had 14 hits on the night, including doubles by Moreland and Delino DeShields. But the Rangers big rally started with a walk. Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, holding a 4-2 lead, started the inning by walking No. 9 hitter Brett Nicholas.

"Nine-hole hitter, that can't happen, there's no excuse for it," Gallardo said. "That guy should have to hit his way on. To end up walking him, it's just asking for trouble."

DeShields followed with a double moving Nicholas to third, and left-hander T.J. McFarland replaced Gallardo. Nomar Mazara's infield single scored one run and DeShields scored as Fielder grounded out to first, just barely beating Orioles' first baseman Chris Davis' throw to the plate to tie the score.

"We don't have guys trying to hit the long ball," DeShields said. "What we are doing is trying to get on base and pass it on to the next guy. Swing at strikes, swing at good pitches and square it up hard. Line drives will turn into home runs."

With first base open, Adrian Beltre was walked intentionally but Moreland's double gave the Rangers the lead. Ryan Rua struck out against right-handed reliever Mychal Givens, but Rougned Odor followed with a two-run single. Odor went to third when right fielder Mark Trumbo let the ball get past him, and he scored on a single by Elvis Andrus.

"We are just trying to find a way to score runs, no matter what," Beltre said. "Trying to capitalize on situations and put pressure on the other pitcher. Tonight was a good example of that."