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Calhoun's jack provides huge lift for Rangers

First-inning homer sets tone as Texas snaps 5-game skid
May 16, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Willie Calhoun was all business on Wednesday night and it didn’t take him long to provide a huge early return on the Rangers’ investment in him. Called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville to replace the injured Elvis Andrus on the 25-man roster, Calhoun was

KANSAS CITY -- Willie Calhoun was all business on Wednesday night and it didn’t take him long to provide a huge early return on the Rangers’ investment in him.

Called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville to replace the injured Elvis Andrus on the 25-man roster, Calhoun was penciled into the No. 2 spot in the batting order and showed a flair for the dramatic by blasting a no-doubt two-run homer in the first inning that provided a springboard for a 6-1 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

For a club that was reeling with a five-game losing streak and facing the prospect of playing without Andrus, the team leader, that early blast by Calhoun was a much-needed dose of positive medicine.

Box score

Calhoun finished the night 2-for-5 while setting the tone for an all-around happy scenario. Rangers starter Mike Minor worked through some heavy traffic in his five innings and Nomar Mazara tied a career high with four hits. Ronald Guzmán and Shin-Soo Choo added homers and the Rangers’ bullpen was solid down the stretch.

“A ton of good things happened today,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It was really cool to see Willie be the one to kind of kickstart us. I couldn’t be happier for him, with all the work that he has put in.”

Calhoun had faced Royals starter Jorge Lopez last season and he had a feel for how Lopez might pitch him as he came up in the first.

“The longer that at-bat goes, the better you feel,” Calhoun said. “It helps a lot, getting that first hit out of the way. I just feel like I’m back to my old self and have found something with my swing.”

Calhoun’s blast seemed to put a spring in the step of a Texas team that started the night just 5-15 on the road.

“It put a spring in the whole dugout,” Woodward said.

Added Mazara: “When you have a guy like Minor pitching for us, getting the lead is huge.”

Woodward was quick to note that Minor didn’t have his best stuff. But Minor battled and twice retired Whit Merrifield -- arguably the Royals’ best hitter -- without giving up a run when Kansas City had men at second and third with one out.

“They had guys on the whole time,” Woodward said. “To just give up just one run shows a lot about [Minor’s] ability. If we’re going to be a great team, we have to learn how to pitch when we don’t have our best stuff and with traffic on the bases.”

In the end, the Royals could never score enough to counter Calhoun’s two-run homer that set the tone in the opening inning.

“I’m not surprised,” Woodward said. “I’ve seen that bat. He has amazing hands with that swing. He has lightning hands. It’s just nice to see him have success the first day.”