CLEVELAND -- A perfect combination of superb pitching and an offensive onslaught led the Rangers to a 9-2 win over the Indians in Monday's series opener at Progressive Field. Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin took his first defeat of the season.
Tomlin entered Monday's contest with a 7-0 record, but he had his shortest outing of the season as he went 3 2/3 innings, surrendering eight runs (four earned) en route to a loss. Cleveland first baseman Mike Napoli provided the lone scoring output off Texas starter Derek Holland with a solo homer in the sixth, marking his team-leading 11th blast of the season.
"That was a good win all around," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We were able to get on the board early against a guy who was 7-0 and we were able to capitalize on their mistakes. Derek threw the ball well."
Texas piled up the runs in bunches early on, scoring in each of the first four innings. Ian Desmond started the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning. The Rangers scored one in the second and two more in the third. Then, the gates were completely blown open with a four-run fourth inning -- capped off by a three-run home run from right fielder Nomar Mazara.
Per Statcast™, Mazara's shot to straightaway center was projected to land 448 feet away from home plate and had an exit velocity of 110.6 mph. It was Mazara's ninth homer of his rookie season.
"I just didn't execute the pitches when I needed to execute them today and put our team in a bad spot early on," Tomlin said. "And [Texas] just kept building on that first inning, and I didn't limit the damage enough. And once they kind of tasted blood, they just kept piling it on."
The outpouring of offense gave Holland (4-4) more than enough cushion to silence Cleveland's offense. The left-hander went six innings, giving up one run on six hits. It was his first win since April 30. After Holland's exit, reliever Cesar Ramos surrendered a home run to Cleveland's Marlon Byrd.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Desmond sparks Rangers: Desmond had a two-run home run in the first and a double to start a two-run third inning. He also helped with his baserunning. He was on third with one out in the third when Adrian Beltre hit a grounder into the left-side hole. Shortstop Francisco Lindor fielded the ball, but Desmond danced off third base long enough for him to hesitate. Desmond stayed put, but his jockeying forced Lindor to throw the ball late and off-target. Beltre was safe with an infield single and both runs in the inning later crossed with two outs. More >
"I'm just trying to do my job and produce runs," Desmond said.
Tito tossed: With two outs in the third, Indians manager Terry Francona was ejected for arguing a play at first base. Tomlin gloved a grounder from Mitch Moreland and then hit him in the back with a throw as Moreland appeared to veer inside the baseline. Moreland was ruled safe, allowing a run to score. The play prolonged the inning, in which Texas tacked on one more run, and contributed to Tomlin's early exit in the fourth. More >
"I probably saw it like everyone else did," Francona said. "If you had a chance to look at it, the runner veered back into the baseline. He started out OK, but it looked like he wanted to get in the way of the throw. I think that's exactly why they put the rule in place. I don't know what he saw. I didn't get a very good explanation. I couldn't get any explanation."
Mazara goes into trees: Mazara broke the game open with a three-run home run in the fourth that went over the fence and into the trees beyond center field. It snapped an 0-for-9 skid, but was his fifth home run in his last 10 games.
"Another grown-up home run," Banister said. "You just sit back, watch and enjoy what Mazara is able to do at this point. He doesn't give you the impression he hasn't been in the big leagues very long."
Worth the wait:Ryan Merritt had sat patiently in the Indians' bullpen all last week, waiting for his name to be called. At last, the left-handed reliever made his big league debut on Monday night. He entered the game in the fifth inning and immediately surrendered a hit. Then, Merritt settled down and did not allow a hit the rest of the night. He wound up throwing 4 1/3 shutout innings and struck out two. More >
"I'm home here. Being able to pitch in front of my family is great. My grandmother was here. She doesn't get many opportunities to see me pitch. It was definitely fun getting to pitch in front of her and the rest of my family." -- Holland, who is from Newark, Ohio
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Elvis Andrus was 3-for-4 with three singles and is now hitting .418 (46-for-110) in 29 career games at Progressive Field. That's the highest batting average by any hitter with at least 100 at-bats here. He has a career .374 batting average against the Indians, his highest against any American League opponent.
Ramos gets identical save
Ramos earned his second career save by pitching the last three innings. His last save was three years ago on May 31, 2013, for the Rays. It was also against the Indians at Progressive Field. It was also in a 9-2 game and he also pitched the last three innings.
Ramos was the first Rangers pitcher to get a three-inning save since Michael Kirkman on April 21, 2013. He also allowed the rest of the Rangers' bullpen to get the night off.
"For me it was good to go out there and finish it off with nobody having to warm up," Ramos said. "Now that I'm in the bullpen, that's part of my job. Today was a good day."
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis pitches for the Rangers against the Indians at 5:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Lewis has won his last two starts and is one of two pitchers in the AL with at least 10 starts who is undefeated.
Indians: Cleveland will sent right-hander Corey Kluber (4-5, 3.78 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday's 6:10 p.m. ET tilt with Texas. Over his past two turns, Kluber has gone 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA, with 15 strikeouts against three walks in 14 1/3 innings.