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08/28/10 12:12 AM ET
No Manny, no problem as Rangers top A's
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers put in a waiver claim on Manny Ramirez, only to see his waiver rights be awarded to the Chicago White Sox on Friday. Ramirez would have given the Rangers another potentially powerful bat; not only in their chase for a division title that now looks like a lock, but also for what they are hoping will be an extended run through the playoffs. Instead, they'll have to continue to settle for David Murphy, who had a two-run double, and Julio Borbon, who had three singles in the Rangers' 7-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night. Murphy's two-run double finished off a three-run first inning for the Rangers against Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson. The Rangers led 7-0 after four innings and starter Tommy Hunter took it from there, earning his 11th win by allowing three runs in 7 2/3 innings. The Rangers, with their fifth victory in their past six games, now have a 9 1/2 game lead in the American League West. This is the second time this season the Rangers have had a 9 1/2 game lead, but now there are just 34 games to go. "We showed some speed tonight, but more than that, we executed," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight was a good night all-around. When the game asked us to do something, we did it." Josh Hamilton certainly did. He was 3-for-3 for his 24th three-hit game of the season -- a new club record. But, on a day in which the Rangers put in a waiver claim on another big slugger, Murphy and Borbon gave a reminder of what they offer the Rangers' offense. Murphy does not have Ramirez's Hall of Fame hitting ability, but he continues to be on a nice run that has helped make up for the absence of Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. He is hitting .322 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in his past 27 games. "I feel good right now," Murphy said. "I feel ready to contribute in any situation. I feel I'm in one of those streaks where I feel as good at the plate as in any hot streak in my career." Borbon does not have Ramirez's monster power, but he's been an integral part of the Rangers' much-discussed re-tooled approach to winning offensive baseball. Widely heralded in Spring Training, this was the approach that relied less on sheer power and more on situational hitting, putting the ball in play and taking advantage of the bounty of speed the Rangers have never enjoyed before. The Rangers had 15 hits on the night, including 10 in the first four innings that allowed them to build the 7-0 lead. Borbon had two of those 10 hits, including an infield single in the second. "We got some breaks offensively," third baseman Michael Young said. "We got swinging bunts and some lawn darts that fell into the outfield. We probably need to hit the ball a little harder, but we want to make sure we're versatile enough to score in different ways." Of those 10 hits in the first four innings, five were infield singles. Three of the five players who reached on an infield hit ended up scoring. The Rangers, with six on the night overall, lead the Major Leagues with 146 infield hits this season. "They really didn't hit the ball that hard off any of our guys tonight," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "We actually made more loud contact than they did. They got seven runs, but they had six infield hits and a bloop double. They hit a couple balls well, obviously, but they got some breaks and they took advantage of it." Andres Blanco had two of those infield hits. He led off the second and fourth innings with singles and ended up scoring both times. In the second inning, the Rangers scored a run on three straight infield hits by Blanco, Borbon and Elvis Andrus. "In the second inning, I probably wish they would have hit the ball harder," Anderson said. "So many infield hits ... that's about the only time you'll hear you wish they would have hit harder. It's a little bit frustrating because you're making your pitches and they're not really making any hard contact." Blanco, who remains the Rangers' second baseman in Kinsler's absence despite the acquisition of Cristian Guzman and Alex Cora in the past month, also made a terrific catch in the fifth by diving into the first-base stands to grab Cliff Pennington's foul pop. That was one great defensive play. Hamilton made another in the ninth, when he raced into the left-center field gap to run down Mark Ellis' long fly ball before crashing into the wall. "He's amazing right now," Ellis said. "It's almost like they need a higher league for him, the way he's swinging the bat, and then doing what he does out there on the field. He's really good, very good." Hamilton was playing left field, and once again reinforced that outfield defense continues to be a significant strength on this team. If Ramirez was on the Rangers, he would play left, Hamilton would move to center and Borbon would be on the bench. Murphy would join him there once Cruz came off the disabled list. If one were to argue why the Rangers might not need Ramirez, Friday night's game might be Exhibit A.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.