BALTIMORE -- Ian Kinsler finds out Sunday if he'll be going to his first All-Star Game. The drama and tension must be unbearable. It comes down to this: he either goes to the All-Star Game or is likely to be the first one to ever sit at home despite leading his league in batting average, runs scored and hits. Kinsler has done all that and more, including a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning that proved to be the difference-maker in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday. The Rangers trailed 3-1 in the first inning, but came back to finally take the lead on Kinsler's home run.More
"There may be some doubt about who the second best second baseman is but there's no doubt who's No. 1," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I don't think any second baseman has had as good of first half as Kins. He's been doing it every day." Kinsler ended up going 2-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice hit, raising his average to a league-leading .328 and extending his hitting streak to 17 games. He now has 118 hits on the season, plus he scored twice to give him 77 runs as well. Both lead the league and the 77 runs are the most by a Ranger before the All-Star break in club history. Really, the only drama surrounding Kinsler going into All-Star Selection Sunday is if he'll catch Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the fans' voting. "I have no idea," Kinsler said. "All I'm trying to do is play hard every day and win the game. I hope somebody is taking notice." How could they not? "Right now, when pitchers are making mistakes, he's not missing them," Washington said. "He's fighting off the good pitches and not missing the mistakes. That's what you do when you talk about being in a zone." Kinsler's work helped make a winner out of Rangers starter Scott Feldman, who gave up three runs in the first inning and nothing the rest of the way to earn his second straight victory. Feldman was supposed to be pushed back a couple of extra days, but started instead when Eric Hurley was scratched with a tight hamstring muscle. He ended up with his second victory of the road trip after having never won a game outside of Arlington before that in his Major League career. Feldman was given a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kinsler doubled and scored on a single by Michael Young. But his night started with singles by Brian Roberts and Jay Payton and a two-run double by Nick Markakis. A grounder to second by Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora's sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead before the first inning was over. But that was it against Feldman, who allowed just two singles over the next five innings. "I was obviously mad about giving up the three runs, but I tried to tell myself to hold them there and get as deep into the game as I could," Feldman said. "Hopefully, we could score more than three runs. I felt if I could hold them there, we'd have a good chance of winning the game." He was right. Josh Hamilton's RBI single off of Orioles left-handed starter Brian Burres made it 3-2 in the second and that's where it stood until German Duran doubled with two outs in the sixth. That's when Orioles manager Dave Trembley lifted Burres for right-hander Lance Cormier, who had a 2.08 ERA coming into the game. "Burres hadn't got the guy out," Trembley said. "I'm not going to match up left against right there; I'm going to bring a right-handed guy in. I thought that Cormier's been the guy that if anybody's had the hot hand down there, it's been him." Cormier, though, threw three straight balls, then came back with two strikes. Kinsler was swinging on both. "I was trying to do some damage," Kinsler said. "Get a hit and score one or knock one out of the ballpark. I was just up there swinging, if it goes out of the ballpark, it goes out of the ballpark." Kinsler fouled the first one, then ripped a line drive down the left field lined that crashed into the seats for a two-run home run. "He took pitches, worked a good count and swung 3-0," Cormier said. "That was kind of unexpected, but he's leading the league in hitting so he's doing something right. I didn't throw the right pitch, I guess." Feldman got the Rangers through six and the bullpen did the rest. Washington, with Joaquin Benoit on the disabled list, has pretty much set on Frank Francisco, Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson as his trio for the back end of the game and they cut through the Orioles over the final three innings to save it for Feldman. Francisco did have runners at the corners with two out in the seventh, but got Huff on a grounder to Kinsler. Wilson struck out the side in the ninth on 13 pitches for his 20th save. "Their bullpen was better than ours," Trembley said. "That's the game in a nutshell." The Rangers second baseman had something to do with it.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less