The Toronto Blue Jays home field, the Rogers Centre, has a reputation of being a hitter’s ballpark. After the first two games of the Blue Jays’ series with the Texas Rangers, it certainly didn’t play that way, as the two teams had combined for just eight runs. On Sunday, the Rangers made the necessary correction to earn back the ballpark’s reputation, unloading ten runs on nineteen hits against Toronto in a 10-2 win of the rubber match to close out the series.
The name you will or have heard the most from this game is Michael Young, who hit his first home run since May 7th, ending a career-long 88-game homerless drought for the veteran. Young also added a double and a single, and collected five RBI in the win. Besides the rarity of the home run, this was also just Young’s third multi-extra base hit game of the season, and the first since May 4th. The seven total bases and five RBI for Young were season highs. Young is now a career .320/.352/.484 hitter against the Blue Jays.
One game’s performance is certainly not enough to wipe away a season of evidence that suggests that Young is not the hitter he once was. However, for this one day, Young looked like his old self. He drove the ball with authority off of right-handed pitching, a skill that has been lacking from Young’s diminished repertoire in 2012. An optimist may say that Young is finally coming around and that he is rewarding Ron Washington for trusting to put him in the lineup every day. If he can sustain the approach at the plate that he displayed on Sunday, the eternal optimist may indeed be validated. Finally getting production from his spot in the lineup would certainly be a shot in the arm to a Texas offense that has struggled with consistency at times this season.
While Young may be the offensive story of the game, he was not the most productive player in the Rangers’ lineup. Overshadowed by Young’s outburst was the contribution of David Murphy, who rattled Blue Jays pitching for a home run and two doubles. Murphy led the charge from the bottom third of the Rangers’ lineup, who finished 8-14 with four extra base hits and four RBI. Also deserving of recognition is Elvis Andrus, who had his third four-hit game of the season. The Rangers have scored at least eleven runs in all three of those games. Ian Kinsler is still slumping at the plate, but he did end an 0-for-21 streak with a third inning double.
The offense carried the day for the Rangers, but the performance of Matt Harrison on any other day would be the lead story. Harrison limited the Blue Jays to just two hits and a walk over eight innings, racking up seven strikeouts along the way. He threw just 90 pitches (62 strikes), making quick work of Toronto. Harrison’s velocity was actually down in this game compared to the rest of his season. His average fastball for the season is 93.0 MPH, but in Sunday’s game was 91.4 MPH. Despite the reduced speed, Harrison completed innings of just six pitches, seven pitches, and eight pitches, a model of efficiency. This was the Rangers tenth game in a stretch of twenty with no off days, and Harrison provided a much appreciated day of rest for the Texas bullpen.
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