Back & bash­ing

Fully pow­ered lineup pro­duces its sec­ond straight 10-run out­put

The Dallas Morning News - - SPORTS DAY - :By ED­DIE SE­FKO Staff Writer es­e­fko@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @ES­e­fko

AR­LING­TON — Seems safe to say that Mike Napoli’s back is do­ing just fine these days.

Not co­in­ci­den­tally, the Rangers’ of­fense is the pic­ture of health, too.

In just his sec­ond game back from the dis­abled list, Napoli un­loaded a pair of two-run homers that an­chored sep­a­rate five-run in­nings as the Rangers rolled to a 10-4 vic­tory over the Seat­tle Mariners.

It was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive game that the Rangers reached dou­ble-digit runs — the first time they’ve done that this sea­son.

It also was their sev­enth win in the last eight games and pushed them over .500 at 34-33 — their first time above break-even since they were 24-23 on May 24.

Clearly, the Rangers are in a good spot men­tally after the re­turn of Napoli and Car­los Gomez’s come­back from a ham­string in­jury.

“To get them to play to the name on the back [of the jersey], who they are and what they are, it’s huge,” man­ager Jeff Banis­ter said. “To be able to in­sert Gomez and Nap and have them come back and do what they did is cru­cial for us go­ing for­ward.”

And, of course, hav­ing Adrian Bel­tre around doesn’t hurt, ei­ther. His sin­gle in the first in­ning was one of five con­sec­u­tive hits that came after two men were out, cli­max­ing with Napoli’s first homer.

“That’s the heart­beat of our lineup, not only in the bat­ter’s box but out on the de­fense,” Banis­ter said of Bel­tre. “What he brings is ir­re­place­able.”

It was the sec­ond day in a row that the Rangers beat the Mariners by 10-4 scores.

For Napoli, who was not avail­able to speak to re­porters postgame, it was the 16th time in his ca­reer he’s had a multi-HR game and the sec­ond time this sea­son. He had two against San Diego on May 11.

“He’s feel­ing a lot bet­ter, ob­vi­ously,” said Bel­tre of Napoli. “He was lin­ger­ing for weeks with the back in­jury, and he tried to play through it. That ob­vi­ously didn’t help. It looks like he’s healthy now.”

The of­fense has had all of its fire­power the last two games for the first time all sea­son. The Rangers are in such a good spot now that they can af­ford to sit Delino DeShields and drop catcher Jonathan Lu­croy, who has hit in the mid­dle of the lineup much of the year, to the No. 8 spot.

And, of course, Joey Gallo and his 18 home runs bat­ted ninth.

“We still have more bul­lets,” Bel­tre said. “I think we’re wait­ing for Cole [Hamels] to get back. Ob­vi­ously, we’re play­ing bet­ter. We ex­pect this. Our of­fense is deep enough to do this more of­ten.” It wasn’t all about the bats. Martin Perez, who has lacked run sup­port most of this sea­son, was thrilled to be spot­ted a 5-0 ad­van­tage after the open­ing frame. The key to his suc­cess might have been how he re­bounded from the third in­ning.

He threw 34 pitches in the in­ning but only al­lowed one run. Of­ten this sea­son, he’s had trou­ble re­bound­ing from a trou­ble­some in­ning like that. But he cruised through the fourth and fifth, be­fore a rough sixth in­ning ended his work­day.

Get­ting through the third was crit­i­cal, he said.

“The first bat­ter, a lot of foul balls and a dou­ble,” he said. “But after that, I just said to my­self, ‘We got the lead and

just make your pitches and you’re go­ing to be out of the in­ning.’ ”

In the sixth, he left after Mike Zunino’s 463-foot homer to cen­ter field. Jose Le­clerc came in and struck out Guillermo Here­dia and Tay­lor Mot­ter to end the in­ning.

That set up the five-run sixth for the Rangers as they clinched their third con­sec­u­tive se­ries win with the fi­nale of the three-game set Sun­day.

“We got nicked up pretty good the last night [in Hous­ton],” Banis­ter said. “But they for­get about that and move on. You have to have a core group of guys who be­lieve in that. That is huge to get beat up a lit­tle bit and come back. These two games should be build­ing blocks for us.”

Tony Gu­tier­rez/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Mike Napoli is con­grat­u­lated by third-base coach Tony Beasley after his sec­ond two-run homer. Napoli, Car­los Gomez and Adrian Bel­tre have re­cently re­turned to the lineup, and the Rangers, who have con­sec­u­tive 10-4 wins over Seat­tle, clearly have ben­e­fited from fi­nally be­ing at full strength.

Tony Gu­tier­rez/The As­so­ci­ated Press

Seat­tle’s Robin­son Cano (left) dis­ap­proves of home plate um­pire Joe West’s call as Rangers catcher Jonathan Lu­croy jogs to the dugout on an in­ning-end­ing strike­out in the fifth.

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