ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton has a sore left knee that needs to be monitored and Leonys Martin is seeing a hand specialist this week about the possibility of a broken bone in his right wrist, so Ryan Strausborger's importance to the Rangers as their fourth outfielder is rising quickly in the August heat of the pennant race.
Strausborger was in the lineup on Sunday afternoon while Hamilton was resting the knee, and he delivered three hits, including his first Major League home run, in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the Rays.
"Obviously it was awesome," Strausborger said. "Awesome individual day, but the biggest part is we completed the sweep and took three from the Rays and can carry the momentum into the next series."
It was the second time in three days that a Rangers outfielder hit his first Major League home run. Like Delino DeShields on Friday night, it happened in a big moment for the Rangers.
They were leading, 4-3, with one out in the fourth when Strausborger came up against Rays starter Drew Smyly. Strausborger got a hold of a 1-2 slider, hitting it high and deep down the left-field line for a home run.
"It was an awesome feeling," Strausborger said. "It's not what I'm here to do, but occasionally you run into one. It was hard not to run around the bases with a smile on my face."
Strausborger had 10 home runs in 345 at-bats at Triple-A Round Rock before being called up on Aug. 4. But he wasn't called up for his power. Strausborger, a 16th-round pick in 2010 out of Indiana State University, is here because of his speed and defense.
His home run wasn't his only offensive contribution on Sunday. The Rangers, trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the second, had one on with two out when Strausborger kept the inning alive with a single to right. DeShields followed with another two-out single that tied the score.
"The young man had a big day," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's kind of nice to see a couple guys like that chip in along the way. We're not asking them to do too much, just go out and compete and give us what you have. He had an aggressive swing and solid at-bats. He's growing up in the middle of a pennant race. You're in the middle of the race trying to make an impact and he did."