ARLINGTON -- Luis Mendoza looks to be back on track, and Chris Davis refuses to go away quietly. The two made a bold statement on Friday night that they should be a big part of the Rangers' second-half plans. Mendoza surged back from his disastrous start at the beginning of the homestand and Davis hit his sixth home run since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma to lead the Rangers to a 7-2 victory over the White Sox at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The victory was the Rangers' eighth in their past 12 games.
The homestand began with Mendoza lasting just 1 1/3 innings in a 9-6 loss to the Angels. This time out, he held the White Sox to one run on three hits and a walk in six innings while striking out a personal-best eight batters. "I was more aggressive this time and attacked hitters with first-pitch strikes," Mendoza said. "All night long, I wanted to throw first-pitch strikes and stay ahead of hitters. After my last time, I had a little pressure, but I tried to let it go and learn from it." David Murphy had a two-run home run in a five-run third inning and Ian Kinsler reached on an infield hit in that same frame to extend his hitting streak to 23 games. That's now tied with Michael Young, who had a 23-game hitting streak earlier this year, for the fourth longest in club history. Gabe Kapler holds the record with a 28-game streak in 2000. Young's current hit streak is now at 13 games after he went 2-for-3 with a couple of walks. Josh Hamilton drove him home twice with a double and a single. That gives Hamilton 93 RBIs on the season, fifth most before the All-Star break in Major League history.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was unhappy that his pitchers walked eight, including seven by starter Gavin Floyd."You come to this ballpark with that club and don't throw strikes, you better be ready to go, because you'll be in the shower quick," Guillen said. "He wasn't around the plate, and he got the soap pretty quick." Davis started it all with a one-out home run in the bottom of the second inning off Floyd to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Davis went 1-for-4 on the night and is hitting just .235 in 15 games, but he's got six home runs and 12 RBIs. That's exactly six of the 12 home runs hit by Rangers first basemen this season. The lack of power production from the position is why the decision was made at the end of May to move Hank Blalock from third to first base. But that was before Blalock's return from the disabled list was delayed by wrist surgery, and before Davis was brought up from Triple-A on June 26. Davis' Major League stint was only supposed to last until Blalock's return -- which could be as early as next Friday. But if Blalock, a two-time All-Star, is the irresistible force in all this, Davis could become the immovable object. "Chris Davis is safe," manager Ron Washington said. "Chris Davis doesn't have to do anything to feel safe. The decision we make is going to be in the best interests of Chris Davis and the Texas Rangers. We love Chris Davis." Washington was asked if that meant Davis would still be on the team when Blalock is back. "Chris Davis is safe," Washington repeated with an enigmatic smile. "Every game I've been up here, I've felt that I belong," Davis said. "From day one, they told me I was going to get the opportunity to play, and when Hank came back he was going to play. I think I've made the most of my opportunity. I've said all along that Hank is a good player. He can swing the bat, and they need to get his bat in the lineup. All I can do is what I can control and that's put myself in the best possible situation." Mendoza's situation is a little less tenuous only because the Rangers have so many pitchers backed up on the disabled list. But when the second half begins, the Rangers could end up with six healthy pitchers trying to claim five spots in the rotation. Kevin Millwood will have one of them. Vicente Padilla and Eric Hurley will have the next two, presuming they come off the disabled list when the break is over. Mendoza, Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman would be the candidates for the other two spots. Harrison had a terrific Major League debut in beating the Angels on Tuesday and pitches on Sunday against the White Sox. He could also easily force his way into the second-half picture. Feldman has been the club's steadiest pitcher for two months, but his innings are starting to pile up and he could finish out the season in the bullpen. He was optioned to Triple-A on Friday but should return to the Majors next week. Mendoza has shown he can pitch out of the bullpen and the rotation. This was by far his best outing as a starter, the first time in six starts he has pitched at least six innings. "I thought he was outstanding," Washington said. "He has good stuff, and when he has his good stuff going, he's capable of getting strikeouts like that. Hopefully, he can build on that." As a member of the Rangers second-half rotation? "We're going to discuss that when we're in the second half," Washington said. "But he didn't do anything to not solidify his spot in the second half."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.