Ryan Dempster was sensational for the first four months pitching for a team going nowhere. The Texas Rangers hope he can bridge that success to a club in the midst of a playoff drive with World Series aspirations.
A night after the Rangers pulled out an improbable win, he'll get his first taste of the wild AL West race in his Texas debut in Thursday night's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels .
Dempster jumped 16 games in the standings just before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, going from the fifth-place Chicago Cubs to two-time defending AL champion Texas (60-43).
"It's a great opportunity over there," he said. "It's not going to be easy. There are a lot of teams out there that are really good. I think they have as good a chance as anybody."
Texas moved four games ahead of the Angels (57-48) on Wednesday after it appeared all but certain that lead would be cut to two.
The Rangers rallied from a 7-1 deficit, scoring four in the fifth, one in the eighth and one in the ninth on an Ian Kinsler homer to send the game to extra innings. The Angels scored three runs in the 10th on Chris Iannetta 's solo shot and Albert Pujols ' two-run homer - his second of the contest for his second straight multihomer game - but Texas rallied again.
Nelson Cruz opened the bottom of the 10th with a homer and Mitch Moreland 's RBI single brought the Rangers within one. Two batters later, Elvis Andrus had a game-ending two-run single to send Texas to an 11-10 victory.
"Our mentality was to win no matter what," said Andrus, who went 4 for 6 with three RBIs.
The Angels had outscored Texas 21-10 in winning the first two in this four-game series, but they hope the loss doesn't haunt them.
"It was a lot of fun," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "But at the same time, it broke my heart."
C.J. Wilson (9-7, 2.88 ERA) takes the ball Thursday aiming to move past the loss and a disappointing July personally.
After going 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA over a seven-start stretch May 22-June 26, Wilson was 0-3 with a 4.23 ERA in six July starts. History suggests the left-hander could fare a bit better this month, as he was 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 August starts the last two years.
Wilson, who left Texas in the offseason as a free agent, made his return to Arlington in May and started consecutive games due to a rain delay. Against the Rangers in Anaheim on June 2, he gave up five hits in six shutout innings of a game the Angels won 3-2.
Dempster went 5-5 in 16 starts for the Cubs, but that hardly represents how well he pitched. His 2.25 ERA ranks second in the majors and six times he permitted two runs or fewer but didn't get a win. All of his wins came over a five-start stretch June 5-July 14 in which he threw 33 scoreless innings.
Two of those victories came over AL clubs - Minnesota and Boston - and the right-hander is 4-3 with a 2.67 ERA in eight games against Junior Circuit teams since 2010.
"He might have an advantage off the bat because not many guys in this league have seen him much at all," Texas outfielder David Murphy said.
While that is true of most of the Angels - the only major league team he has never faced - he is plenty familiar with Pujols, a Dempster nemesis in his days with St. Louis. In 55 career at-bats against Dempster, Pujols is batting .327 with seven homers, four doubles and only two strikeouts while also walking 11 times.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|July 30, 2012||Dan Haren||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|July 29, 2012||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
|July 28, 2012||Scott Downs||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|July 22, 2012||Erick Aybar||15-Day DL||Fractured big right toe|
|July 09, 2012||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Strained right biceps|
|July 19, 2012||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Torn flexor tendon, right elbow|
|July 06, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Lower back spasms|
|June 26, 2012||Mark Lowe||15-Day DL||Strained right intercostal muscle|
|June 24, 2012||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Right forearm tendinitis|
|June 24, 2012||Matt Harrison||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hip soreness|
|June 24, 2012||Colby Lewis||15-Day DL||Right forearm tendinitis|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Josh Hamilton got back on track and helped the Texas Rangers ' offense stay on a roll on Thursday night.
Hamilton drove in four runs and the Rangers bailed out Ryan Dempster in his Texas debut in a 15-9 victory over the Los Angeles Angels .
Hamilton hit .177 in July, but had his second four-RBI game of the season. He has 10 RBIs in his past nine games.
"Basically I've said stop thinking about it, stop listening to everybody - everybody's got something to say," Hamilton said. "Just go out there and play. React. Try to slow the game down again. It worked. There's nothing wrong with my swing, it's just about trusting myself, not being too aggressive and trying to slow the game down again."
The Rangers broke an 8-8 tie after six innings when they scored four runs in the seventh, including Hamilton's two-run double, and added three in the eighth.
Dempster allowed eight runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Rangers acquired Dempster from the Cubs minutes before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.
Roy Oswalt (4-2) threw two scoreless innings in relief for the win.
C.J. Wilson gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. David Carpenter (1-2) took the loss for the Angels. Angels relievers were charged with 11 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in the last two games of the series.
The Rangers earned a split of the four-game series with the Angels after Wednesday's night's 11-10 win in 10 innings.
"It was kind of a momentum kill from how we played the first two nights to how we played these last two," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's tough. It's a good team there and it's not a forgiving park if your guys don't hit their spots, and some of our guys in the pen had a tough time doing that."
It was the Rangers' first time scoring in double figures in consecutive games since May 7-8.
"It's been a lot of fun," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We're starting to show some excitement. We have a lot of momentum offensively right now. This was more of a prototypical Rangers game where we scored as many runs as we needed to win. We kept pounding them."
Texas leads Los Angeles by five games in the AL West.
Kinsler went 3 for 5 and scored four runs and Elvis Andrus and Michael Young also had two hits and two RBIs as Texas finished with 18 hits.
Mitch Moreland and David Murphy hit back-to-back pinch-hit singles before Hamilton's double in the seventh.
Outfielder Torii Hunter led the Angels with three hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Kendrys Morales went 2 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs. Albert Pujols , Alberto Callaspo and Howie Kendrick added two hits each for Los Angeles.
Besides Dempster, catcher Geovany Soto and rookie first baseman Mike Olt made their Texas Rangers debuts.
Soto went 2 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Olt, a rookie from the University of Connecticut, went 1 for 3 with a run scored.
NOTES: Mike Olt was called up from Double-A Frisco Thursday and made his major league debut at first base just hours later. Rangers manager Ron Washington said Olt will mostly start at first base and also at designated hitter against left-handed starters. Olt can also play third base when Adrian Beltre has a day off. ... Angels outfielder Mike Trout was selected AL Player of the Month and AL Rookie of the Month for July. He's the first AL player to win both Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in the same month. Trout also won the monthly rookie honor in May and June, joining Ichiro Suzuki (April, May and June 2001) as the only player to win in three straight months.