Spark plug DeShields ignites Rangers' rally

Spark plug DeShields ignites Rangers' rally

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers set a season high with five home runs in a 14-3 win over the Astros on Wednesday, but their offensive barrage against All-Star left-hander Dallas Keuchel began with a simple infield hit.

Delino DeShields opened the bottom of the first inning with a grounder into the left-side hole. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa made a backhanded stop and a strong throw to first, but DeShields legged it out.

"That is what I am supposed to do, be the spark plug and the catalyst," DeShields said. "Get on base any way I can -- a hit, a walk, hit by pitch, strikeout and catcher misses the ball, it doesn't matter. Me being on first base puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. When I get on base, everybody feels we have a real good chance to score some runs."

And that's exactly what happened. DeShields went to second on a bloop single by Shin-Soo Choo, advanced to third on Adrian Beltre's fly ball to deep center and scored on a single by Prince Fielder. Mike Napoli followed with a three-run home run, and Rougned Odor added a two-run shot before the inning was over.

"Delino has been the guy who has been jump-starting us all season, the way he runs down the line and battles in the batter's box," manager Jeff Banister said. "It was a big key, beating out that infield hit and getting us going. It's proven that when he gets on base, that sets the tone so we can do some damage."

DeShields has been a big part of the Rangers' lineup all season, but especially since moving into the leadoff spot in May. He was a gift from the Astros, who left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft this past winter. He made the Rangers out of Spring Training and is now a vital part of a team that has a 1 1/2-game lead in the American League West.

"It's baseball," DeShields said. "It might be a little satisfying, but the main thing is to go out and win ballgames and help the Texas Rangers win."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.