Rangers plate nine early runs, cruise past Twins

Rangers plate nine early runs, cruise past Twins

Rangers plate nine early runs, cruise past Twins
ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland didn't need to know that he had hit the third longest home run in the 19-year history of the Ballpark in Arlington. He just knew the ball was gone.

"I watched it a little bit," Moreland said. "I hit it pretty good. But it doesn't matter if it's the first row or the 50th row. It still counts."

Moreland's second-inning home run off Twins pitcher Brian Duensing definitely counted. The three-run shot measured 463 feet and the Rangers' offense kept blasting away in a 9-3 victory over the Twins on Saturday afternoon.

Moreland wasn't the only one hitting them "pretty good." The Rangers had 14 hits, and whatever ailed them in June and July has disappeared in August. After hitting .243 with a .375 slugging percentage and averaging 3.5 runs per game in July, Texas is batting .297 with a .472 slugging percentage for August. The club is averaging 6.1 runs per game.

"We're killing it good," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We're energized. Everybody is having good at-bats. We didn't have a good July, but August is the month that we woke up. We've got to go out and keep playing the way we have been playing."

The Rangers have won four straight games and eight of their last 10 to move 24 games over .500 at 75-51, the best in the American League. They remain six games ahead of the Athletics in the AL West with 36 left to play.

During the last 10 games, the Rangers are hitting .324 while scoring 72 runs and compiling a .534 slugging percentage.

"It's tough as an offense to have every single guy rolling at the same time and right now that's happening," second baseman Ian Kinsler said "We are all having quality at-bats, one after another. Whether you're making an out or not, it seems like we're seeing a lot of pitches, making a pitcher work one through nine. It's tough on the opposing team when you're able to do that."

Kinsler started the deluge against Duensing with a leadoff home run in the first. It's the fifth time this season and the 25th time in his career as a leadoff hitter that Kinsler has opened the game with a home run. The Rangers are 21-4 in those games.

But Texas spent Saturday afternoon getting production from up and down the lineup. The only player without a hit was third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was 0-for-4 after going 13-for-22 in his previous five games. The bottom of the order made up for it. Geovany Soto, Craig Gentry and Moreland were a combined 4-for-11 with five runs scored.

"It's hard to say we expected this, but we're getting back to what we do well," outfielder David Murphy said.

"It was a matter of time," manager Ron Washington said. "What's happening is up and down our lineup, nine guys are doing the job. That's what we're doing right now. Our lineup is starting to come together. It's the right time to be in the position we're in. We're hitting on all cylinders right now."

Duensing took the full brunt of the Rangers' assault, being tagged with nine runs in the first three innings. He left trailing, 6-0, but with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning. Alex Burnett took over and struck out Moreland. But Kinsler followed with a three-run triple to complete Duensing's miserable afternoon.

"To be honest, the ball was just up," Duensing said. "Every time it was up, it got hit. Every time it was down, it would get hit or it would be a ball. I don't know. I just got beat pretty bad. There was nothing I could do about it. Everything I seemed to throw, they seemed to hit. Nothing seemed to fool them."

Rangers starter Ryan Dempster was the beneficiary of the run support and picked up his second straight victory by holding the Twins to two runs in six innings. He is 3-1 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts since being acquired from the Cubs on July 31. He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out seven over 109 pitches.

"It seems like these guys are putting up five runs in an inning almost every day," Dempster said. "It's pretty fun. I know they've always done a pretty good job offensively, but you still have to execute your game plan, whether you get one run or 10 runs. You still have to go out and execute pitches."

He did that. The nine-run lead did not evaporate on Saturday afternoon at the Ballpark, and the Rangers have a shot Sunday at their first four-game series sweep of the Twins since 1987.

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