By Jeffrey Flanagan and Ryan Posner
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have been seeking a starting pitcher other than Cole Hamels to pick up a win for over a month, and got just that from A.J. Griffin in an 8-3 win over the Royals on Friday night at Globe Life Park.
Texas increased its lead in the American League West to four games, and became the first team in the AL to reach 60 wins. The Royals have lost 10 of 14 since the All-Star break and dropped to 17-34 on the road.
"This time of year, winning baseball games is a premium. It's the end of July and we're getting ready to move into August, wins are at a premium," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "This month has not been our best month so finishing on a strong note is a priority."
The Royals are now 10 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians and 7 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot.
"[The losses] are tough. They're tough for everybody," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We're giving up a whole lot of home runs. The offense has been sporadic. It's just been tough. ... I couldn't have imagined it. I just think the toll has caught up to us."
Griffin gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up his first win since April 26, and first by a Rangers starter besides Hamels since June 26. Eric Hosmer's two-run homer in the sixth was one of just three hits Griffin yielded on the night.
The Rangers belted three homers, two off Royals starter Edinson Volquez, to help fuel the win. Rougned Odor hit two solo shots, one in the first and one in the seventh. Jurickson Profar hit his fifth homer of the season and scored in three of his four at-bats.
Volquez yielded six runs (five earned) on nine hits through six innings and picked up the loss. He hasn't won on the road since May 24.
"I think I felt a little strong in the first inning, walking the first guy, I got in trouble myself," Volquez said. "And after that, I pitched a couple good innings. I kept the ball on the ground from maybe the first inning to the fourth. I think I lost the game the first inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Beltre, Odor shine on defense: Fresh off a three-run first, Adrian Beltre and Odor made sure the Rangers' early lead would hold up. Kendrys Morales hit a hard ground ball to the right of Odor, who was playing in shallow right field, to lead off the inning and was retired on a long throw from the second baseman. Beltre then stole a hit away from Salvador Perez after making a diving stop on his hard ground ball heading for left field, and threw him out for the second out of the inning.
"It was a great play by [Odor]," Banister said. "I think more than anything it was the internal clock by [Odor] of knowing who was at the plate and who was running."
Hosmer ends skid: The Royals' cleanup hitter broke an 0-for-14 slump and three-game hitless streak with a two-out, two-run homer to center in the sixth. It was Hosmer's first homer since July 4, not including his solo shot in the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. The homer knocked Griffin out of the game and traveled an estimated 420 feet, according to Statcast™.
Odor is homer happy: The Texas second baseman has three homers in his last two games and is tied with Robinson Cano for most home runs by a second baseman in the Majors with 21. Friday was Odor's second career multi-homer game, with the other on June 15 against Oakland. Coming into this season, Odor's season high for homers was 16, which he set last year. He leads all Rangers with 33 home runs since the 2015 All-Star break.
"I feel pretty good at the plate right now, I'm just trying to go out there and help my team win games," Odor said. "I don't try to hit homers, I just try to hit the ball hard every time. They're going out, so that's good too."
Royals empty-handed in 7th:Raul Mondesi led off the seventh with a single against left-hander Dario Alvarez, who was making his Rangers debut, and the Royals trailing, 6-2. Jarrod Dyson then singled to right field as Mondesi moved to third. Keone Kela came in to relieve Alvarez and got Alcides Escobar to ground into a double play while Mondesi scored to make it a 6-3 game. Cuthbert then flied out to right to end the inning.
"You can't tell them to go out and get a hit," Yost said. "It's got to just develop and just got to happen. And right now it's just not happening."
"Last night lit a fire in our bellies a little bit more. We we're a little more excited to go out there and pitch, and a little friendly competition never hurt anybody. I was trying to match him, but didn't even come close. But it was good to go out and throw the ball the way I like." -- Griffin, on his outing compared to Hamels' eight-inning win on Thursday night
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy will take the mound at 7:35 p.m. CT on Saturday at Globe Life Park. He's lost his last three decisions, and the Royals have lost his last five starts.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez will start the third game of this series against the Royals on Saturday at Globe Life Park. He has 15 straight quality starts at home to Aug. 2, 2015.