Extra Bases: Youth is served for Rangers

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers' youth movement was in vogue again in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Outfielders Leonys Martin and Engel Beltre sparked the Rangers' offense, scoring all three runs to help Yu Darvish win for the first time in eight starts.

[+] EnlargeEngel Beltre
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezEngel Beltre twisted his knee a little on a collision with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco at the plate, but thinks the day off will be enough for recovery purposes.
Martin and Beltre made their biggest impact in the bottom of the fifth. Beltre led off with a bunt single, dragging the ball to the left of Reds pitcher Mat Latos. Martin followed with a double to center field to move Beltre to third. Martin used his speed to get to second base, making an aggressive move and sliding around the tag.

That set up a suicide squeeze for shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Rangers scored two runs on the play as Beltre slid into home plate and had a collision with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco to score the first run. Latos' throw home was wild for an error, hitting Beltre in the head and allowing Martin to score for a 2-0 lead.

"We wanted to get something started for the team," Beltre said. "The bunt is part of my game. I want to use my speed."

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Beltre was more impacted by the knee-to-knee collision with Mesoraco than getting hit by the throw home by Latos. Beltre didn't get a concussion test in the fifth inning, manager Ron Washington said. Beltre said he twisted his knee a little on the play, but thinks the off day Monday will be enough time to recover.

Martin had another hit in the seventh inning, extending his team-high hitting streak to 14 games. He also promptly stole second base, his 13th consecutive successful steal attempt. He later scored on Nelson Cruz's RBI single for a 3-0 lead, a run that turned out to be the game-winning run.

But young players do make mistakes. Third baseman Adrian Beltre did provide a teaching moment for the other Beltre after the top of the eighth.

A throw by Engel Beltre from the outfield missed the cutoff man, allowing the tying run to move into scoring position. The Rangers were fortunate to keep the Reds from tying the game as relievers Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor got out of the inning.

The older Beltre pointed to second base to remind his teammate where the throw should go. He also pulled him aside with Martin and Jurickson Profar to remind them of the importance of hitting the cutoff man.

"It's not something you want to do," the older Beltre said. "We were just talking about the play. The young guys are learning."

Other notes:

Ogando stepping up: Right-hander Alexi Ogando (shoulder inflammation) will throw a live bullpen session Wednesday as he gets closer to going on a rehab assignment. Meanwhile, right-hander Colby Lewis (pronator surgery rehab) will throw a bullpen Tuesday.

Nathan rolling: Closer Joe Nathan strengthened his All-Star case Sunday, converting his 27th save out of 28 chances. He has a streak of 7 1/3 scoreless innings.

Series winners: The Rangers have won four consecutive series and improved to 6-2 in rubber games with Sunday's win over the Reds.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.325 14 54 52
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 54
RE. Andrus 53
OPSA. Beltre .881
WY. Darvish 9
ERAY. Darvish 2.92
SOY. Darvish 159