CLEVELAND -- The Rangers won and they are back to .500. That's what counts in the mind of manager Ron Washington. Never mind they had to use their bullpen far more than they wanted to and were left to puzzle over Kason Gabbard's inability to throw the ball over the plate. Never mind that this game defied in every way Major League Baseball's renewed quest to pick up the pace of the game and only gave further proof to those who want instant replay implemented. The Rangers were just glad they were able to make an eight-run lead stand up and hold off the Indians for a 13-9 victory on Friday night at Progressive Field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his first career grand slam and the Rangers set a club record for doubles in a single game in winning their third straight game.
"The offense was very resilient tonight, and [it] certainly needed to be," Washington said. "Those other guys didn't stop coming." The Rangers have also won 18 of their last 27 and could go over the .500 mark for only the second time this season with a win on Saturday. The only other time was April 10, when they swept a doubleheader from the Orioles to improve their record to 5-4. They then lost five straight games and haven't had a winning record since then. The Rangers had 17 hits and drew eight walks off of Indians pitchers in scoring in double digits for the ninth time this season, the most in the Major Leagues. The Rangers also had nine doubles, breaking the club record set on May 17, 1996 against the Indians and tied on May 9, 1999 against the Blue Jays. The Rangers tied a season high with 17 hits in a nine-inning game as every starter reached base at least twice and scored at least one run. The Rangers are hitting .349 with 67 runs scored, 21 doubles and 17 home runs in their last eight games. "I think it's just a matter of guys picking each other up," shortstop Michael Young said. "We feel confident in each other. We know if one guy doesn't get it done, the other guys will. We're all focused but we're all loose." Ramon Vazquez had three doubles and Milton Bradley had two despite being ejected from the game in the ninth for arguing with home-plate umpire Dan Iassonga. David Murphy had a three-run double in the top of the first inning that helped the Rangers jump out to a 4-0 lead against Indians starter Fausto Carmona. Murphy now has 19 doubles on the season, the most in the American League.
"[Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo] is doing a great job with those guys," Washington said. "They are swinging the bats, working the pitchers and taking walks. They're doing everything they're supposed to do."
The Rangers, their lead cut to 4-3, piled on seven runs in the third inning, taking advantage of Carmona being forced from the game with a strained left hip after giving up a double to Bradley and an infield single to Murphy. Jorge Julio took over and walked both Brandon Boggs and Chris Shelton to force in a run.
When he finally threw one over the plate, Saltalamacchia hit it into the seats in right field for his first Major League grand slam and third by a Rangers hitter this season.
"Unbelievable," Saltalamacchia said. "My last one had to be in high school. I don't think I've had one in pro ball anywhere. If I did, I have a bad memory."
The one guy who couldn't take advantage of the Rangers' offensive firepower was Gabbard. He was having his own troubles finding home plate, walking four batters alone in the first inning -- despite a 4-0 lead -- and six in 2 2/3 innings. He has now allowed 13 runs in 13 innings over his last three games.
"I just had trouble with the command of my pitches," Gabbard said. "I tried to make an adjustment, but when I did, I was up. I'm a down-in-the-zone guy and I couldn't get it down. I wasn't being overly aggressive, I was just missing down in the zone."
Gabbard, who was on the disabled list earlier this year with a bad back, said there is nothing wrong physically with him.
"I feel great," he said.
Gabbard left after giving up a three-run home run to Grady Sizemore that cut the Rangers' lead to 11-6, but Kameron Loe, in his first appearance since being recalled from the Minor Leagues, slowed down the Indians comeback by holding them to one run in 2 2/3 innings.
Of course, Indians manager Eric Wedge didn't see it that way. He thought Loe should have been tagged for more and was ejected for excessively presenting that argument on a play that will add further cause for instant-replay lovers.
Loe had two on with one out in the seventh when Ben Francisco hit a high drive that hit off the top of the wall in left field that third-base umpire Damien Beal ruled in play. One run scored, but a second runner was stopped at third as Francisco had to settle for a double.
Wedge argued the ball hit the yellow line atop the wall for a home run, but the four umpires -- even after an extended discussion -- upheld the original ruling. TV replays suggested Wedge was right. But the call left the Rangers with a 12-7 lead, and Frank Francisco kept it that way by striking out Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta to end the threat in a pivotal moment of the game.
|"The offense was very resilient tonight, and [it] certainly needed to be. Those other guys didn't stop coming."|
|-- Ron Washington|
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.