The Rangers' five-game skid finally ended with Wednesday's 8-1 win over the Blue Jays, and smiles filled the rows of lockers. This was not a team relieved, but a group of guys just having fun.
"You know, when you're not doing what you want to do, the mood can get somber," manager Ron Washington said. "We had to get back to doing what we can do. Tonight we did, and tonight we had some fun."
Texas racked up 16 hits -- including two home runs -- and received a solid pitching performance from Derek Holland at Rogers Centre.
Ian Kinsler started it off by giving the Jays, who lead the Majors in home runs, a taste of their own medicine. The second baseman clocked a 3-1 sinker from starter Marc Rzepczynski over the center-field wall for the Rangers' first leadoff blast of the season.
Kinsler also hit his last leadoff homer against Rzepczynski on Sept. 1, 2009.
"Really?" Kinsler said, before pausing for a second. "Weird."
The Rangers' offense continued to get to the Jays lefty in the first, as two more runners reached base before Jeff Francoeur's RBI single. David Murphy concluded the early rally by hitting into an inning-ending double play.
The 23-year old Holland, using the two-run lead, blanked Toronto through five innings of work. The young left-hander, in just his seventh start of the year, allowed only three hits and struck out eight en route to his first victory since May 17.
"I felt pretty good," Holland said of his efforts. "I was using all my pitches. [Catcher Bengie Molina] and I were definitely on the same page. I think what was really hurting me was falling behind and using a lot of pitches, too. But for the most part, I thought it was a pretty good day pitching-wise."
Holland also received a little help from his defense in the fifth. With runners on second and third, shortstop Cristian Guzman -- who committed a throwing error in the second inning -- redeemed himself with a spectacular diving catch to end the threat.
"It was huge," Holland said. "A great play by him. Like I said, defense was behind me making great plays, and that got me out of the inning."
The Rangers added some insurance in the fifth. Kinsler started the frame with a single to center field. He then stole second, advancing to third on catcher Jose Molina's throwing error. Michael Young seized the moment and slapped an RBI single into right field.
"We hit with guys in scoring position," Kinsler said. "We stole a base tonight, we haven't done that in a while. We forced them to get back on their heels a little bit, and that's the type of baseball we normally play."
Carrying a three-run lead, the Rangers' offense really started having fun.
Texas plated lone runs in the sixth and eighth, before tacking on three in the ninth, an inning that featured a two-run Nelson Cruz shot off the windows in deep center.
Six different Rangers turned in multihit performances, with six players picking up at least one RBI.
Washington said it was nice to see his squad, which he felt had been snakebitten over the past week, create its own opportunities.
"In the game of baseball, you have to make those things happen," Washington said. "I feel like we made that happen tonight, and that's the way we have to continue to play. As I said earlier, the main thing with those guys is keeping them in the ballpark. You keep them in the ballpark, you have a chance. If you let those guys get loose swinging with the bats and hitting them in the stands, you have no chance, because they don't always hit solo [shots]."
While the Jays didn't win the war, Jose Molina -- brother of Bengie -- took reliever Darren O'Day yard in the eighth, to earn some bragging rights. The Jays have hit 22 home runs vs. the Rangers over nine games this season.
All in all, despite the skid and their 2-7 record against the Jays, the Rangers continue to maintain a sizeable lead atop the American League West.
But for Washington -- it was just nice to hear the music again.
"Yes it is," he said. "It's something that we missed."
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less