ARLINGTON -- There were 37,146 fans standing at the end, with the sounds of "Sweep! Sweep!" echoing through Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It's only May, and Texas' formidable opponent has still won four of the last five division titles. But it's been a while since a crowd was this loud in the building between Ballpark Way and Nolan Ryan Expressway. "When they started to chant 'Sweep!,' I had to step off the mound and take a deep breath," reliever Darren O'Day said. "It was pretty awesome."More
The fans got their wish. O'Day struck out Gary Matthews Jr. to end the game, and the Rangers completed their three-game sweep of the Angels with a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. The victory, their seventh in a row, allowed the Rangers to complete a 6-0 homestand against the Mariners and the Angels. "Another solid game -- pitching, great defense, timely hitting," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just awesome." This is only the seventh time in Rangers history that they've finished undefeated on a homestand with a minimum of two opponents. The last time was when they were 8-0 in May of 2005 against the Astros, Royals and White Sox. "It was a great homestand, and the crowd was unbelievable today," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "They were just incredible. It was really loud out there. If we can get crowds like that and as loud as they were for the rest of the year, we're going to win a lot of games at home." The Rangers sold an impressive 10,682 tickets on Sunday, and the three-day total of 104,859 fans for the Angels was the largest in two years for a three-game series. "We had an absolute blast playing behind this crowd," third baseman Michael Young said. "They packed it in today, and we had fun." The Rangers gave their fans something to cheer about in winning for the 17th time in 22 games. They are now nine games above .500 and 4 1/2 games in front of the Angels in the American League West. "I'm more focused on the fact that we're playing good baseball, rather than looking at the standings," Young said. "The biggest thing is, we recognize we're a confident group playing good baseball. If we do that, we will be fine. We don't look at May as being too early. We look at it as we have 4 1/2 months to get better." The Rangers were pretty good this weekend in sweeping the Angels, as four pitchers combined on Sunday for the Rangers' second shutout of the season. Scott Feldman, who now has a 2.17 ERA as a starter, went six innings, winning pitcher Jason Jennings worked the seventh, Eddie Guardado retired two batters in the eighth and O'Day retired the last four hitters on the afternoon for his first career Major League save. The Rangers beat Jered Weaver, who entered the game third in the American League in ERA but was matched for six innings in a scoreless duel by Feldman. Jennings took over in the seventh and kept it that way with the help of Josh Hamilton's leaping catch against the right-center-field wall on Howard Kendrick's lone drive. The Angels had a runner on first at the time. "Those guys had a terrific series defensively," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "[Hamilton] was going gap to gap, against walls. They played a great series. We're going to have to start playing the way we can and go from here." The Rangers finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh when Hank Blalock doubled, Nelson Cruz singled and David Murphy drove home the first run with a sacrifice fly. They added two more in the eighth on a triple by Omar Vizquel and doubles from Kinsler and Marlon Byrd. That was enough for the Rangers, who compiled a 2.89 ERA during the six-game homestand, committed just one error while turning eight double plays and won twice this week despite scoring just three runs in a game. They had two walk-off wins against the Mariners before sweeping the Angels this weekend. "Just the whole homestand was great," Murphy said. "To go undefeated at home, especially against two teams in our division, it shows everybody around baseball that we're for real and we can play with anybody." Their fans are starting to believe 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