Big days from Harrison, Young propel Rangers

Big days from Harrison, Young propel Rangers

Big days from Harrison, Young propel Rangers
TORONTO -- After the Rangers scored just five runs on nine hits over the first two games of their three-game set in Toronto, they more than doubled both totals Sunday, as the bats came to life and broke out in a big way.

A dominating effort from Matt Harrison only made things easier.

The Rangers put the game away after batting around in a five-run fifth inning, while Matt Harrison allowed just two hits over eight frames in an 11-2 rout of the Blue Jays in the rubber match of a three-game set at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

"It was good to have a good offensive game as a team. We haven't had one of those games in a while," said Michael Young, who contributed a three-run homer in the fifth. "We really fed off [Harrison] today. Usually when you have a good offensive performance, you feed off the starting pitcher."

Texas' offense had been stagnant recently -- entering Sunday, the top offense in the Majors had scored two runs or fewer in seven of its past nine games. Not surprisingly, the Rangers were 4-5 over that stretch and had only managed a split during the first two in Toronto, thanks to their pitching.

On Sunday, it all came together at the right time, as the Rangers received a combination of shutdown pitching and an elite offensive show to make easy work of the Blue Jays.

Texas first scored in the third inning to erase an early 1-0 deficit.

The Rangers strung together four consecutive hits off Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez to begin the frame, starting with a ground-rule double by David Murphy.

Geovany Soto hit an RBI single to right field that cashed in Murphy, who just narrowly beat out Moises Sierra's throw to the plate. Mitch Moreland proceeded to drive in Soto with his own RBI single to right, putting the Rangers ahead, 2-1.

After scoring one more in the fourth, Texas broke things open in the fifth, starting with Elvis Andrus, who singled to center.

Josh Hamilton drove in Andrus with a double for his 102nd RBI of the season, and the next two batters reached base before Young's blast, which snapped a career-high 88-game homer drought, increased Texas' lead to 8-2.

"It's kind of the nature of being a line-drive hitter -- you go through stretches sometimes where the ball doesn't go over the fence," said Young, who drove in two more in the sixth with a double to give him a season-high five RBIs and make it a 10-2 game. "But I do want to make sure I'm knocking in runs, so I'm far more pleased with knocking in the runs than the home run."

A walk to Murphy then chased Alvarez from the game, as the right-hander was tagged for a career-high eight runs and 12 hits to fall to 7-11, while his ERA ballooned to 4.84.

"The Rangers came out and swung the bats aggressively, particularly on first-pitch fastballs, and then in hitter's counts where there were some mislocated fastballs, they squared a number of pitches up today," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Harrison, meanwhile, was superb, allowing just run one in the second and then another in the fifth on a solo homer to Mike McCoy, his first of the year.

The lefty, who finished the start by retiring 11 straight after McCoy's homer and 20 of 21 overall, departed after just 90 pitches.

"Harrison didn't want to come out [of the game] because he has turned into that type of pitcher," manager Ron Washington said. "You want to finish what you start, but he understood."

Washington wanted to get reliever Mark Lowe, who hadn't pitched in five days, an inning. Lowe worked a clean ninth to finish the game.

Harrison won for the first time in three starts to improve to 14-7. He also became the first Texas left-hander to win 10 times on the road in a single season.

The skipper felt the key for Harrison was that he had a good feel for his secondary pitches early on in the game, such as his changeup and curveball.

"Harrison has been our best pitcher this year, period," Washington said. "He has been the most consistent."

Harrison said he sped up his tempo and delivery and that he put a bad bullpen session before the game behind him. He had trouble locating his pitches, which made him a little worried heading into the outing, but it ended up working out for him.

"That's probably the best command I have had in a long time," Harrison said. "Soto did a great job today mixing up the pitches and calling the right pitches at the right time. I didn't want to have to shake [him off] at all."

Soto, Young and Murphy all had three-hit games, while Andrus went for 4-for-5. Texas' 19 hits, nine of which went for extra bases, were two off its season high of 21. Murphy added a solo homer in the ninth.

Ian Kinsler snapped an 0-for-21 drought with a third-inning double.

Texas concluded its road trip with a 3-4 record and will begin a 10-game homestand starting Monday against the Orioles.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.