Rangers ride big bats to clinch second
Club secures spot in standings, ties MLB record for doubles
ANAHEIM -- The Rangers joked about it in the clubhouse after a 12-1 victory over the Angels on Friday, having heard the Mariners had beaten the Athletics in Seattle."I was wondering where the plastic was in front of my locker," shortstop Michael Young said. "I thought we were going to pour Snapple over our heads." Manager Ron Washington said he was going back to the hotel, popping open a bottle of Cognac and lighting up a big cigar. He felt he deserved it after the Rangers officially clinched second place in the American League West on Friday night. "It means we accomplished something," said Washington, whose team started out 7-16 this season. "Nobody gave us a chance after April to do anything. We haven't won anything yet, but we're four games better than last year. That's an improvement. I know [Los Angeles] is running away with this, but second place is better than sitting in last place like we did last year." The Rangers had two reasons to celebrate Friday. They also hit six doubles in the game, giving them 373 for the season and tying a record originally set by the Cardinals way back in 1930. The Red Sox also had 373 doubles in '97 and '04. The Rangers have two more games to break the record. "We're very proud of that, actually," Young said. "Doubles are a huge play, and that's one thing our offense does really well. We're good at getting rallies going and keeping them going. Doubles are a really good way of doing that. Sometimes home runs stop a rally. We'll go double-double with the best of them." The Rangers could have broken the record, but Chris Davis stopped at first base after lining a ball off the right-field wall in the seventh inning. He pointed the finger at first-base coach Gary Pettis. "He was saying, 'No! No! No!'" Davis said. "Guys were getting on me, saying, 'Why didn't you run hard out of the box?' I said, 'I was, that's all I got.' I'm not the speediest guy." Angels starter John Lackey gave up four of the six doubles and took the brunt of the onslaught, as he went from absolutely dazzling to having absolutely nothing in the course of two starts and five days against the Rangers. Lackey pitched six scoreless innings Sunday in Arlington, allowing two hits and striking out a career-high 12. On Friday night, Lackey allowed a career-high 10 runs while lasting just 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing as a starter in the Major Leagues. "The start at our place was the best I've ever seen him," Hank Blalock said. "Today was just a rough outing. He's still their No. 1 starter and a horse. I'm sure he'll be back." Seven of the Rangers' runs came in the second inning, a rally that started and ended with a pair of noteworthy home runs. Blalock started the inning with a home run off Lackey, and Josh Hamilton finished the outburst with a solo shot. Blalock has now hit a home run in five straight games, matching the second-longest streak in club history. Kevin Mench hit a home run in seven straight in 2006, while Carl Everett ('03), Alex Rodriguez ('03) and Mark Teixeira ('04) have homered in five straight. Blalock is the sixth player in the Major Leagues to hit a blast in five straight games this season. "I just feel like it's my job to go up there, have great at-bats and drive in runs," Blalock said. "The Angels are going to win the division, but it's a positive for us to clinch second place. It's a step in the right direction." Hamilton's home run snapped a career-high 20-game drought, as he had gone 79 at-bats without going deep. His last home run was Sept. 1 against Seattle in Arlington. His last home run on the road was against the Angels on Aug. 31. Vicente Padilla went six innings to get his 14th victory, the third time in his career he has won that many games in a season. He won a career-high 15 for the Rangers in 2006, and he finished this season 14-8 with a 4.74 ERA in 29 starts spanning 171 innings -- while dealing with a couple of physical issues at times. "He's been fighting some problems all year, especially in the neck area," Washington said. "But I thought he was as good as anybody in the league when he was good. There were probably times when he was out there when he shouldn't have been, but for a while there he threw some good games." There were some frustrating moments for Padilla, but on Friday night he helped the Rangers celebrate a second-place finish.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.