No Hamilton, no problem in Rangers' rout

No Hamilton, no problem in Rangers' rout

ARLINGTON -- What's scarier than a Texas offense that scores 13 runs through four innings with all but one starter collecting a hit?

The fact that the red-hot Josh Hamilton wasn't even in the lineup.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

But that's what the Rangers did, as the club pushed its winning streak to 10 games with a 13-3 victory over the Pirates at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Wednesday.

"We put up a lot of numbers without a lot of guys in the lineup," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what this lineup does. It plays with the nine that's out there and whoever else can come in the game and help."

The streak is the franchise's second-longest. The record is 14 straight, accomplished in May 1991.

It may have been a cause for concern heading into the game that Hamilton wasn't in the lineup, and for good reason. He has strung together a career-high 17-game hit streak and has hit .485 (33-for-68) with eight home runs and 24 RBIs during that span.

But the Rangers certainly didn't need him Wednesday. The only starter without a hit was catcher Matt Treanor, and all but two added an RBI.

It was third baseman Michael Young who started the action in the first inning. After Elvis Andrus walked to lead off, Young drilled his 10th home run of the season into the left-field seats for an early two-run lead.

This season is Young's eighth with at least 10 home runs or more, making him only the fourth Ranger to accomplish the feat.

The Rangers were just getting started. After putting the first two runners on base to begin the second, five consecutive batters hit singles, four of which scored runs, as the Rangers shot out to an early 7-1 lead. The scoring was capped by a sacrifice fly by Treanor.

"We know that if we don't have Josh or [Vladimir Guerrero) in the lineup, we can still make it," said Andrus, who had three hits. "We have great hitters. If me or Julio [Borbon] can get on base and with Mike hitting, we know we can score a lot of runs."

Said Pirates reliever Dana Eveland: "It's a really good lineup. You have to locate. You have to pitch ahead. You really have to keep a good mix. And even then, they are going to get their hits. It's a very tough team to pitch against. I give them a lot of credit. They swing it."

Two innings later the onslaught continued, as the Rangers scored six two-out runs to push the lead to 13-2. Doubles by Young and second baseman Ian Kinsler highlighted the inning before Nelson Cruz finished off the frame with an RBI single to center field.

"It was the Michael Young show tonight," Washington said. "He got us going early and kept it going. We got single after single, put five up. ... it was up and down the whole lineup."

It was just the start to a solid night for Young, who finished a triple short of the cycle in only four innings. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Andres Blanco in the fifth.

"When I came up, we were up 11 runs," Young said. "Chances are I'm not going to go for a triple anyway. There's a time and a place to try and stretch it and that wasn't it."

And on a night when starting pitcher Dustin Nippert couldn't get past the third inning, the bullpen was there to back him up. Rookie reliever Alexi Ogando pitched three perfect innings to pick up his third Major League victory in as many appearances. It marked the first time since 1900 a reliever has begun his career with three wins.

It was a frustrating start for Nippert, who failed to make it past the third inning for the second straight start. Despite a comfortable lead, his 40-pitch second inning, in which he walked three with two outs, robbed him of a quality start.

Even Matt Harrison got in on the action. After beginning the season as a starter before going on the disabled list, Harrison pitched the final three innings to record his first Major League save.

But the story of the night was still the offense, one that was without arguably its best hitter during the team's winning streak.

"That's the nature of the big leagues," Young said. "You're not going to see a team with nine guys on fire. It's just not going to happen. Early in the season, we have Vlad and Cruz on fire, then Elvis caught fire and Kinsler got back in the lineup. Now Josh has been warm here recently. It's just a matter of everybody picking each other up."

But even though Hamilton was absent from the lineup in the rout, the Rangers aren't planning on making it a permanent thing.

"It was nice for Josh to get a bit of a break," Young said. "We'll get him back in the lineup tomorrow and hopefully he can stay hot. I'm sure he will."

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