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Rangers stay in homefield hunt

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — With another bountiful barrage of homers, the Texas Rangers matched a franchise record with their 95th victory in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Ian Kinsler thinks the Rangers will have to break that record to make sure they will start the playoffs at home this weekend.

Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz hit consecutive homers in the fifth inning, and the surging Rangers stayed on track for homefield advantage in the AL division series with a 10-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

The Rangers (95-66) have won five straight and nine of 10 while holding off Detroit (94-67), which beat Cleveland 9-6, for the AL’s second-best record. With five homers and 15 hits against a series of Angels pitchers who sometimes appeared to be throwing batting practice, Texas matched the club record for victories set in 1999 — but nobody in the defending AL champions’ clubhouse is thinking about the past with such a bright future.

“My thoughts are, ‘Let’s get one more and beat it,'” said Kinsler, who homered and had three hits while joining the 30-30 club for the second time.

If Texas wins Wednesday’s season finale or if the Tigers lose to the Indians, the Rangers will host the AL’s wild-card winner on Friday. Detroit holds the tiebreaker if the clubs finish even, which would leave the Rangers opening the playoffs at Yankee Stadium.

“We’d rather play the first two games at home than on the road,” said Napoli, who hit two homers against his former teammates. “We feel comfortable playing anywhere, but to sleep in our own beds and have your normal routine feels great.”

A day after the AL West champion Rangers eliminated the Angels from the wild-card race, Colby Lewis (14-10) pitched six innings of three-hit ball, adding one more victory to his career-best total while throwing just 76 pitches in his final tuneup before the postseason. Lewis retired the final 11 batters he faced after Peter Bourjos’ RBI triple in the third inning.

The Rangers have improved their record in four straight seasons under manager Ron Washington, but he betrayed no pride in matching the Texas wins mark set by Johnny Oates’ club 12 years earlier.

“We’ve been playing good baseball all year,” Washington said. “That’s how you get those wins. It means we’ve been consistent. … If we go out there (Wednesday) and win the ballgame, we know we’re going home. That’s our intention. Of course we want to play in front of our home fans. We’ll show up and strap it on, go out there for nine, and see what happens.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia provided a boost to the Rangers’ homefield hopes when he scratched Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver from their final starts of the season, instead sending out two rookies — Tyler Chatwood and Garrett Richards — in Los Angeles’ final two games.

“With only a couple of games left, I don’t know if we were going to see much more than we already know about these young guys,” Scioscia said. “But it’s good to get them out there and let them get some get some energy out.”

Kinsler connected for his 32nd homer during the Rangers’ four-run third inning against Chatwood (6-11). Kinsler stole his 30th base in the fourth inning, earning just the third 30-30 season in club history — and a standing ovation from his teammates, who exuberantly crowded the dugout rail.

Beltre had three hits and homered in his fourth straight game, leading off the fifth with his 32nd. The slugging third baseman is propelling the defending AL champions into the postseason with a dynamite September, collecting 12 homers and 24 RBIs in the past 17 games.

The Angels have lost five of six and eight of 12 while missing the postseason for just the fourth time in 10 years. Howie Kendrick, the Angels’ All-Star second baseman, also sprained his left wrist in the fifth inning while stopping a grounder.

Chatwood flopped in the final start of the 21-year-old right-hander’s up-and-down rookie season, yielding seven hits and four runs while failing to get out of the third inning. Jerome Williams wasn’t much better on short rest, giving up a run in the fourth and three straight homers to open the fifth.

“I learned what I need to work on and what I need to keep building on,” Chatwood said. “I didn’t do a very good job of getting ahead, and when I was ahead, I made pitches and they hit them. That’s a pretty good lineup and a pretty deep one, top to bottom.”

After Beltre’s blast leading off the fifth, Napoli hit his career-high 27th homer, and Cruz followed with his 29th.

Napoli added a two-run shot in the seventh. The Angels traded Napoli to Toronto in the offseason, but none of his three main replacements in Los Angeles has more than six homers or an average above .210.

 

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Posted by on Sep 28 2011. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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