Rangers pound Henderson Alvarez, beat Blue Jays
Henderson Alvarez pitched with a heavy heart Sunday.
The Toronto Blue Jays starter had been told of a death in the family in the morning and after an awful outing against Texas declined to speak to media.
It was small wonder. Texas defeated Toronto 11-2 after banging out 19 hits — 12 against Alvarez in 4 1/3 innings — to win the rubber match of a three-game series.
No Blue Jays mentioned Alvarez's pain after the game — catcher Yan Gomes said he "had absolutely no idea" — but Rangers starter Matt Harrison expressed sympathy for the opposing pitcher.
"I'll say a little prayer for his family and him tonight," said Harrison. "That's pretty tough. To have that on your mind when you go out and pitch, your focus is definitely not on pitching. I hope the best for him, hopefully he can get past this and come back strong."
Michael Young hit a three-run homer and added a two-run double for Texas, while Harrison (14-7) held Toronto to two runs and two hits, including a solo homer by Mike McCoy.
The hit total and the eight runs allowed were both career highs for Alvarez (7-11), and, by the time McCoy homered in the fifth, the Rangers had broken the game open in the top of the fifth with five runs.
David Murphy added his 11th homer of the season against Chad Jenkins in the ninth.
"The Rangers came out and swung the bats aggressively, especially on first-pitch fastballs," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "And then in hitter's counts where there were some mislocated fastballs they squared some balls up.
"I didn't think he used his secondary stuff enough, particularly as they started to be aggressive early in the counts. There was still first-pitch fastball approach that they took advantage of."
After the game Gomes was returned to AAA Las Vegas, likely to make room for catcher Yorvit Torrealba who completed his four-game stint with AA New Hampshire on Sunday and is expected to join the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Change in approach
Gomes said Toronto's approach to pitching against the Rangers needed to be changed.
"I guess we should have tried to do something else because what we were doing wasn't working," he said. "It's a team you can't make mistakes against. One [batter] through nine they can hurt you."
The Blue Jays (56-65) scored first in the second when McCoy's infield bouncer resulted in an out but still scored Yunel Escobar from third base.
But the Rangers (70-50) struck back in the third. Murphy led off with a double and slid home safely on a single by Geovany Soto, who took second on the throw home.
Mitch Moreland singled to make it 2-1 and he took third when Ian Kinsler ended a 0-for-21 drought with a double. But Alvarez avoided further damage in the inning by striking out Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton and retiring Adrian Beltre on a grounder to third.
The Rangers scored once in the fourth when Young singled and scored on a double by Murphy, who was thrown out trying for third.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of making sure we stayed in the strike zone and made sure we got strikes to hit," said Young. "That's easier said than done when a guy's got a really good power sinker but I thought we did a pretty good job of that."
Texas broke the game open in the fifth.
Andrus, who made a superb play at shortstop on Edwin Encarnacion's grounder into the hole in the fourth, singled with one out in the fifth and scored on a double by Hamilton.
Beltre walked and Nelson Cruz singled to score Hamilton. Young followed with his fourth homer of the season and his first homer since May 7 at Baltimore, a span of 88 games.
McCoy hit his first homer of the season in the fifth but the Rangers came back with two more in the sixth on a double by Young.
"I saw [Young] use his hands the way he's able to," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "Before he had a lot of body and today it was hands. Hopefully he's about to come around because when Michael starts finding his, it lasts a long time."