04/10/07 1:15 AM ET
Bats come alive in Rangers win
Kinsler, Young and Catalanotto light it up for Texas
By Ken Daley / Special to MLB.com
Hank Blalock's first RBI of the season. Ian Kinsler's first four-hit game, including a two-out RBI single that broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth. Rookie catcher Chris Stewart's first Major League hit and RBI, an emotional moment that highlighted the Rangers' highest-scoring inning of the young season.
It all added up to Brandon McCarthy's first win for Texas, made possible by that six-run eruption with two out in the sixth. The Rangers managed six two-out hits in the inning, after amassing just eight two-out hits in their first six games.
"When you treat the game right, it comes back and rewards you," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "For us, it's starting to come together. It's starting to really be a team."
McCarthy (1-1) had thrown 98 pitches and was already deemed done for the night as he watched the Rays' Edwin Jackson retire the first two Rangers in the bottom of the sixth. McCarthy was one out away from getting no decision in his home debut when his teammates suddenly sent 11 men to the plate to overwhelm four Tampa Bay pitchers.
"It was exciting," McCarthy said. "I was talking to Jamey [Wright] on the bench about how you hold out hope for an inning ending like that, but it rarely seems to matriculate like that. But you could just tell our bats have been waiting to explode."
The late rally delighted the crowd of 21,547 that braved another unseasonably chilly night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. But it seemed to warm hearts inside the Rangers' clubhouse even more.
"We knew [McCarthy] was out of the game, and we wanted to get him the win," said Stewart, who also contributed a sacrifice bunt and threw out one of two basestealers in his first start behind the plate for Texas. "So, with two out, we started to get it going and didn't stop."
A two-run single by third baseman Akinori Iwamura had staked the Rays to a 2-0 lead in the second, but the Rangers tied the game in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Blalock and an RBI double by Kinsler.
It was Blalock, again, who lit the fuse with two out in the sixth. His single to right was followed by Nelson Cruz's infield hit, and Jackson gave way to reliever Shawn Camp.
Kinsler singled to center, scoring Blalock to break the 2-2 tie. Stewart followed with another single to center, driving home Kinsler for his first big-league RBI and a 4-2 Rangers lead.
"I would have taken it anytime," said Stewart, "but to have it happen then when it really mattered was great."
Rays manager Joe Maddon called upon Ruddy Lugo, but the bleeding did not stop. Lugo walked Kenny Lofton to load the bases, and Frank Catalanotto made him pay with a two-run single to center. Michael Young then doubled to the gap in left-center, scoring two more runs for an 8-2 lead.
"You've got to get your two-out hits if you're going to be a winning ballclub," Kinsler said.
After Mark Teixeira walked, reliever Gary Glover entered and induced a popup from Sammy Sosa -- the Rangers' 11th batter of the inning -- to finally end the sixth.
On a night the Rangers managed a season-high 15 hits, only Sosa was kept off base. The Rangers' designated hitter went 0-for-5 and stranded five runners, his batting average slipping to .167.
Kameron Loe relieved McCarthy and nearly let Tampa Bay back in the game in the seventh. Loe surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Carl Crawford, followed by a double to Ben Zobrist. But after a mound visit from pitching coach Mark Connor, Loe struck out Rocco Baldelli to end the threat.
Crawford's second home run of the year made him Tampa Bay's all-time leader with 401 runs scored, breaking a tie with former Rays slugger Aubrey Huff. But the end result was all too familiar for Tampa Bay. The Rangers have won 13 of their last 16 games against the Devil Rays in Arlington since 2003.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.