Rangers set doubles record in 8-4 win over Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—If the Texas Rangers get any pitching next year to complement their explosive offense, the Los Angeles Angels may not be able to breeze to a division title the way they did this season.
Josh Hamilton overtook Justin Morneau for the AL RBI lead with one game left in the regular season, Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis hit consecutive home runs, and the Rangers set a major league single-season record for doubles in an 8-4 victory over the Angels on Saturday night.
“That was a very resilient offense we’ve had this year,” manager Ron Washington said. “Everybody played a part in it. Our 1-2-3-4 hitters have been doing it all year. And once Marlon Byrd got on track and we got Hank Blalock back and got Chris going, it became a very fluid offense.
“All we have to do next year is clean up the deficiencies in our pitching staff.”
The Rangers surpassed the 900-run mark for the fourth time in club history. It was the first time they did it without making the playoffs.
“The hitting’s always going to be there for them,” said Angels first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was traded by the Rangers to Atlanta in July 2007. “Rudy Jarmillo is an incredible hitting coach, and Texas always seems to get great performance from their hitters. But pitchers just don’t seem to perform there. Maybe it’s the stadium, maybe it’s the heat, but until the pitching gets fixed, I don’t think anything else will matter.”
Hamilton’s two-run single during a four-run sixth increased Texas’ lead to 8-1. He has 130 RBIs, one more than Morneau. The last Rangers player to win an RBI title was Alex Rodriguez with 142 in 2002. But Washington has no intention of moving Hamilton up to the leadoff spot Sunday to give him more at-bats.
“I’ll leave him third for more opportunities to drive in runs,” Washington said. “He’s been doing it there all year. A few times I ended up putting him fourth and the results weren’t very good. So no matter how I change the lineup, I want to keep him and Michael Young second and third.”
In the first two games of this series, the Rangers have 18 runs and 22 hits against John Lackey and Ervin Santana, who are scheduled to start the first two games of the AL division series against Boston.
The Halos had a choice whether to start the playoffs on Tuesday or Wednesday and chose Wednesday so Lackey and Santana would pitch on their normal four days rest and the team would get an extra off day later in the series.
A victory by the Rangers in Sunday’s finale not only would give them their first three-game sweep in Anaheim since June 1999, but also would prevent them from becoming the seventh different franchise in since divisional play began in 1969 to finish in second place by a margin of 20 or more games. The last one to do it was Cleveland in 1999, when they ended up 21 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox.
Scott Feldman (6-8) allowed two runs—one earned—and five hits in six innings while wrapping up his first season as a starter with a 5.29 ERA. He was 2-5 in his final 10 outings, including a pair of losses to the Angels.
“My last three or four starts before tonight really killed my ERA, but it was nice to end on a good note and get a win against a good team like the Angels,” Feldman said.
The 25-year-old right-hander was scheduled to begin this season in the minor leagues. But injuries to the rotation forced him to sink or swim with the big club in his new role.
“I thought he did a great job,” Washington said. “For the most part, he kept us in the ballgame every time he went out there.”
Santana (16-7) was charged with eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings and struck out five. He finished his regular-season slate with a 3.49 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 219 innings, the highest strikeout total by an Angels right-hander since Nolan Ryan’s 223 in 1979. Lefty Chuck Finley had 215 in 1996.
When he was taken out of the game, Santana stopped to say something to Texas third base coach Matt Wallbeck, and was quite animated about it.
“He thought that we were stealing signs, but that’s just baseball,” said Wallbeck, a former Angels catcher. “I think when guys are getting hit, sometimes they think the runner on second is telling the hitter what’s coming. To my knowledge, that’s not the case. It didn’t come from anybody else but Santana. I think he was just frustrated.”
One night after their seven-run second inning against Lackey, Texas scored three times in the second against Santana to grab a 3-1 lead. Cruz homered off the rock formation in left-center field after a single by Byrd, and Davis drove the next pitch far back into the right field seats for his 17th of the season.
Blalock made it 4-1 in the third with an RBI double into the right field corner after Bryd’s infield single. It was the Rangers’ 374th two-base hit, breaking the mark set by the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals and equaled by the 1997 and 2004 Red Sox.
Blalock’s double was his only hit, snapping his five-game home run streak. … The Angels, one of two current major league teams that had never had a 100-win season, have one more chance to break the franchise record of 99 set in 2002. … Since his promotion from Triple-A Oklahoma on June 26, Davis is leading all rookies with 56 RBIs and 42 extra-base hits. He had his first career four-hit game in the series opener and is batting. 288 in 79 games. He also has 16 home runs.