The Rangers were on their way to finishing 75-87 and in last place in the American League West. But on one summer night at Camden Yards, the Rangers' offense erupted for the most runs by a Major League team since 1900.
"That was bananas," infielder Michael Young said. "It was one of those days when everything clicked."
That was the last time the Rangers played a doubleheader against the Orioles in Baltimore before having to play two on Saturday, which they split. It remains one of the most memorable nights in Rangers history and commands a full page in the media guide just to cover all the details.
Those details include grand slams by Marlon Byrd and Travis Metcalf, two home runs and seven RBIs by Ramon Vazquez and a seven-RBI night from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
"Every ball we hit found a hole," outfielder David Murphy said. "It's not like we were squaring everything up. I had five hits, and three were infield hits. Everything we hit found a hole, found a gap or went over the fence."
From the pitching side, the most amazing thing was that Wes Littleton threw three innings to earn an official save despite the 27-run lead. When the game ended, it was one of three earned by Littleton in his Major League career, saving the win for Kason Gabbard.
"It wasn't the best year team-wise but it was a great day," Young said.
"A little piece of history," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.
The Rangers' lineup began with Frank Catalanotto at first, Kinsler at second and Young at shortstop. Byrd was the cleanup hitter, batting fourth, Jason Botts batted fifth at DH, then came right fielder Nelson Cruz, who was still struggling to establish himself. The bottom of the order had Murphy in left, Saltalamacchia at catcher and Vazquez at third. Hank Blalock had been on the disabled list since May after having shoulder surgery.
Metcalf had been called up just that day because the Rangers were concerned about Young. Young had been experiencing some back stiffness, and the Rangers wanted some protection.
The club actually trailed, 3-0, going into the fourth. But it loaded the bases with one out before Saltalamacchia grounded a two-run single to center, and Vazquez hit a three-run home run off Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera.
It remained 5-3 into the sixth before Saltalamacchia hit a home run off Cabrera to lead off the inning. That started a nine-run outburst that included Byrd's grand slam.
In the dugout, third-base coach Don Wakamatsu asked Washington how to avoid looking like the Rangers were trying to run up the score.
"When you can send a runner across the plate without there being a play, you're not running up the score," Washington told him.
With an 11-run lead, Washington sat down Young. Metcalf went to play third and Vazquez shifted to shortstop.
"Usually, when your offense has a big day, there is still one guy who had a tough day," Young said. "I was that guy, and I was 2-for-5."
Metcalf made up for Young. He hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, and the Rangers scored 10 more runs to take a 24-3 lead. The club record was 26 runs, set in 1996 against the Orioles. The record since 1900 by one team was shared by the 1950 Red Sox and the 1955 White Sox. Both had scored 29 in a game.
The Rangers blew past all that with a six-run ninth, capped by Vazquez's second three-run home run. A career utility infielder, Vazquez hit 22 home runs in 2,227 at-bats over nine years.
It was the most runs scored in a Major League game since Chicago beat Louisville, 36-7, on June 29, 1897. The Rangers then went out and beat the Orioles, 9-7, in the second game.
"That's what sticks out in my mind, we had to go out and play another one," Kinsler said. "It was a long day."