Silver surfers: Rangers clinch Lone Star set
Kinsler hits first HR since May as Texas continues hot June
ARLINGTON -- There was much going on after the Rangers' 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon.Manager Ron Washington was strolling through the clubhouse when he saw pitcher C.J. Wilson pumping away on the exercise bicycle. This was after he had thrown 112 pitches over seven innings in 95-degree heat. "He said he was trying to break a sweat," Washington said. "I guess he didn't break a sweat out there. I broke a sweat just sitting on the bench."
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
While Wilson was on the bicycle, second baseman Ian Kinsler was on television with Emily Jones in front of the Rangers dugout, explaining how he hit his first home run in over a month. While he was outside, shortstop Elvis Andrus was racing through the service tunnel toward the opposing dugout, taking the long route so he could sneak up from behind and bury Kinsler with a face full of whipped cream.Kinsler, a five-year veteran, wasn't falling for that. "I was making sure nobody was sneaking up behind me," Kinsler said. "It's too warm out there for that." Then came the postgame Family Day celebration on the field with reliever Frank Francisco catching kids as they came down the Funny Farm slide. With all this going on, the Rangers forgot to celebrate the fact that their victory before 28,951 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington allowed them to clinch the Silver Boot for the fourth consecutive year. There was no champagne or even Lone Star Beer being hoisted in the home clubhouse after the Rangers' fourth victory in five games -- and 19th in the month of June. "No, none at all ... we know it stays here," Washington said after his team rebounded from a Friday night loss to the Astros that ended their 11-game winning streak. "The first thing was beating the Astros," said outfielder David Murphy. "We weren't too wrapped up in winning the Silver Boot, but rather bouncing back from last night. We knew the winning streak wasn't going to last forever and we didn't play well last night. But we bounced back today and played like the team we are." It was not an insignificant victory. In 1991, the Rangers set a club record by winning 14 consecutive games. After that, they lost 11 of their next 12. When that 26-game stretch was over, the Rangers had lost 1 1/2 games in the standings and the winning streak was neutralized. "We got back to playing baseball the way we know we are capable of playing," Washington said. "After you get a loss, you bounce back and that's what we've been able to do for a long time." Pitching should negate those long losing streaks, and Wilson had no problems delivering on a hot sunny afternoon. He allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three in winning his third successive decision. He is now 6-3 with a 3.35 ERA on the season, including 5-1 with a 3.57 ERA in nine starts at the Ballpark. So much for the heat. "It's not a big deal at all," Wilson said. "That's completely overrated. This is my sixth year here. The heat has zero effect. I have all the adaptations to get around it. The heat is not a factor. You build yourself up to it." Wilson gave up a two-run home run to Jason Michaels in the top of the fourth inning that gave the Astros a 2-1 lead, but his teammates quickly erased that in the bottom of the inning. Justin Smoak led off with a walk and scored on a double by Max Ramirez. A one-out single by Michael Young put runners at the corners and Kinsler crushed a 2-1 changeup from Astros rookie starter Josh Banks deep down the left-field line for a three-run home run. Kinsler, who missed the first month of the season with a sprained right ankle, had gone 32 games without hitting a home run. This was only his second of the season and his first since belting one against the Angels on May 18. "It was fun to be able to jog around the bases instead of running ... except when [Vladimir Guerrero] or Josh [Hamilton] hit one out, which has happened a lot lately," Kinsler said. "I'm not too worried about hitting home runs because of the guys hitting behind me. I've got two of the best sluggers in the game hitting behind me." Kinsler's home run made it 5-2, and the Rangers added two more in the fifth on a two-run single by Elvis Andrus. The pitching did the rest, and the Rangers have now won seven of 10 Silver Boot Trophies since the Lone Star Series began.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.