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Oakland at Texas

Oakland (75-83)0100011104101
Texas (77-82) «00032810x14170

Blalock continues power surge, Rangers win home finale

CBSSports.com wire reports

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Nolan Ryan, it has been a long rookie season as president of the Texas Rangers.

Hired in February to revitalize a team that has never won a playoff series, the Hall of Fame pitcher has spent the season evaluating the entire organization and trying to determine what changes need to be made.

But after the home finale Wednesday, a 14-4 victory against the Oakland Athletics, Ryan said he doesn't anticipate changing managers. Ryan expects Ron Washington to return next season along with general manager Jon Daniels.

"In my mind, they're going to be back. I have no reason to think differently," Ryan said in a hastily gathered postgame meeting. "I don't anticipate a change."

Ryan also stuck with Washington after Texas got off the worst start in team history, 7-16 in April. The team responded by winning seven consecutive series and got to six games over .500 in early August before a slumping finish that ensured the Rangers (77-82) would have their eighth losing record in nine seasons.

"Ron has done a good job. I think he kept the ballclub playing for him under bad conditions in April, and I think it played hard for him all year," Ryan said. "With a young club, that's the thing that you look for, if the team quits on a manager. And this team didn't do that."

A 15-28 stretch that ended with Monday night's loss to Oakland ensured a losing record. Texas lost All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder David Murphy to season-ending injuries during that time.

In the home finale, Hank Blalock hit a home run in his fourth consecutive game and Matt Harrison (9-3) struck out seven in six innings to become the first Texas rookie left-hander to win nine games.

"It wasn't anything that I worried about," Washington said about his future. "I've always had my focus on the field, trying to make sure we can keep this team focused. ... We didn't win record-wise, but we dealt with a lot this year."

Harrison was one of seven pitchers who made their major league debuts this season with Texas, which used a club-record 55 players (30 pitchers).

While Harrison was a bright spot, Ryan said the emphasis during the offseason has to be pitching -- the Rangers had a majors-worst 5.41 ERA. But he doesn't expect the team to be in the big-spending sweepstakes for expected free agents like CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets.

The only AL starters with more victories than Harrison since he made his major league debut July 8 are Cleveland's Cliff Lee (11) and Toronto's A.J. Burnett (10).

Blalock's three-run homer, his 11th, erased a 1-0 deficit in the fourth and put Texas ahead to stay. After Blalock was hit by a pitch to start the sixth, Nelson Cruz hit a home run on the next pitch to chase Dana Eveland (9-9).

Travis Metcalf also homered and Michael Young went 4-for-4 with a walk for Texas, which has a 1½-game lead over Oakland for second place in the AL West with three games left for both teams.

After missing 91 games this season because of injuries and playing only 58 games last year, Blalock isn't certain of returning with the Rangers. The club has a $6.2 million option for 2009, or a $250,000 buyout, on the two-time All-Star third baseman who switched to first base because of shoulder problems.

But Blalock is showing he can still hit, going 17-for-37 over the past 10 games. He has a streak of six consecutive games with an extra-base hit, a run scored and an RBI.

Blalock's home run came off left-hander Eveland, who didn't allow another home run to a left-handed hitter in his 29 starts this season.

"I got into trouble with the home run. ... I gave up some hits on some pitches I thought were pretty good. You can't make a mistake against this team. They can swing the bats," said Eveland, donning a platinum blonde wig and female police officer's outfit.

The costume was part of the hazing of 17 Oakland A's, who were dressed in female costumes for the trip from Texas to the West Coast.

The last batter Eveland faced was Cruz, whose 422-foot home run to left-center made it 7-2 with no outs in the sixth. Texas added six more runs against two relievers, including an RBI single by Blalock and Josh Hamilton's two-run double that snapped his 15-game drought without an RBI and upped his season total to 126.

Jack Cust hit his 32nd home run, a solo shot, and had his 192nd strikeout, seven short of the major league record set last season by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. Daric Barton had two doubles and scored twice for the A's.


  • Rangers DH Milton Bradley has an .439 on-base percentage after going 2-for-5. He finally reached the minimum number of plate appearances needed to qualify as the leader.
  • The Rangers finished 40-41 at home and drew fewer than 2 million fans for the first time in their 15 seasons at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The final crowd was 16,832, pushing the season total to 1,945,857.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Hank Blalock's HR streak extends to four games after sending one out of the park in the fourth inning.  (AP)
Hank Blalock's HR streak extends to four games after sending one out of the park in the fourth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game

H. Blalock
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1

M. Young
AB 4
R 2
H 4
HR 0

Related Video

Oakland Athletics
Travis Buck, RF5020011 .200
Aaron Cunningham, LF5010024 .263
Ryan Sweeney, CF3000021 .288
    Chris Denorfia, CF1111000 .278
Jack Cust, DH3111110 .231
Bobby Crosby, SS3000012 .240
    Donnie Murphy, SS1000010 .184
Jeff Baisley, 3B4010010 .303
Daric Barton, 1B3220111 .218
Cliff Pennington, 2B4011002 .250
Rob Bowen, C4011012 .176
2B - Travis Buck (7, Harrison), Aaron Cunningham (7, Harrison), Daric Barton 2 (15, Harrison, Rupe), Rob Bowen (5, Rupe)
HR - Chris Denorfia (1, Rupe), Jack Cust (32, Harrison)
RBI - Chris Denorfia (7), Jack Cust (75), Cliff Pennington (8), Rob Bowen (9)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Pennington-Crosby-Barton, Barton-Crosby-Eveland
E - Aaron Cunningham (3, Misplayed grounder)
Oakland Athletics
Dana Eveland (L,9-9) 5877342 4.34
Santiago Casilla0344100 3.93
Jeffrey Gray 1322000 7.71
Dan Meyer 2311111 7.48
HBP - Blalock (by Dana Eveland)
WP - Santiago Casilla (6)
Pitches-Strikes - Dana Eveland 85-50, Santiago Casilla 17-7, Jeffrey Gray 23-12, Dan Meyer 46-30
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dana Eveland 7-2, Jeffrey Gray 2-1
Batters Faced - Dana Eveland 25, Santiago Casilla 4, Jeffrey Gray 6, Dan Meyer 10
Texas Rangers
German Duran, 2B-LF5221000 .230
Michael Young, SS4242100 .284
    Joaquin Arias, 2B0000000 .270
Josh Hamilton, CF5122013 .304
    Ramon Vazquez, SS0000000 .292
Milton Bradley, DH5121014 .324
Marlon Byrd, LF2100203 .296
    Brandon Boggs, LF-CF0000100 .228
Hank Blalock, 1B4224002 .290
    Chris Davis, 1B0000000 .275
Nelson Cruz, RF5122012 .320
Gerald Laird, C4210113 .278
    Max Ramirez, C0000000 .222
Travis Metcalf, 3B5222013 .232
2B - Michael Young 2 (34, Eveland, Casilla), Josh Hamilton (35, Gray), Milton Bradley (32, Gray), Travis Metcalf (2, Casilla)
HR - Hank Blalock (11, Eveland), Nelson Cruz (6, Eveland), Travis Metcalf (6, Meyer)
RBI - German Duran (16), Michael Young 2 (79), Josh Hamilton 2 (126), Milton Bradley (77), Hank Blalock 4 (36), Nelson Cruz 2 (23), Travis Metcalf 2 (14)
2-OUT RBI - Hank Blalock 3 (15)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Young-Duran-Blalock
Texas Rangers
Matt Harrison (W,9-3) 6622171 5.49
Josh Rupe 2322031 4.97
Wes Littleton 1100110 6.75
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Harrison 98-61, Josh Rupe 30-18, Wes Littleton 24-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Harrison 7-3, Josh Rupe 2-1, Wes Littleton 1-1
Batters Faced - Matt Harrison 24, Josh Rupe 9, Wes Littleton 5
Game Information
Attendance - 16832
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Casey Moser, Third Base - Bill Hohn