Alex Rios hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats and Derek Holland threw a complete game shutout as the Rangers exploded for twelve runs in a blowout victory over the Astros Monday night in Arlington, Tex.
It was the first cycle of Rios’s career, and the seventh in Rangers history. And he didn’t waste any time getting started on it.
The first three Rangers to bat all reached against Houston pitcher Jordan Lyles, including a two-RBI double by Rios that brought home both of the Ranger middle infielders.
Ian Kinsler singled and went first-to-third on an Elvis Andrus single. Andrus advanced to second on the throw to third.
Kinsler brought home the third Ranger run in the form of Craig Gentry when he spanked a line drive off of the center field wall with two out in the second inning.
The Rangers tallied four more two-out runs in the third inning.
David Murphy walked with the bases juiced, and Leonys Martin hit a frozen rope to right-center field that cleared the bases. Martin was gunned down trying to stretch his three-RBI double into a triple, but the Rangers left the inning with a 7-0 lead.
The top of the order struck again in the fourth inning, as each of the top three hitters reached base once again. Andrus lined an RBI single to center field that scored Kinsler from second. Rios launched his third hit of the night over the 14-foot-high left field wall at Rangers Ballpark for a solo home run.
He recorded the triple to complete the cycle in the sixth inning, when he laced a 1-0 pitch to the right-center gap for an RBI three-bagger.
Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers were aware of the opportunity for a cycle going into Rios’s fourth at-bat.
“You wish in your career you could’ve done that,” Washington joked. “He hit it in the perfect part of the field. We were conscious of [the cycle] and as soon as he hit it we were yelling ‘triple, triple, triple.’”
“I was going from the first step I took,” Rios said. “It was good placement.”
Kinsler, Andrus and Rios combined to go 9-for-12 with six RBI and four extra-base hits Monday.
There have been five cycles in the majors since start of 2010, with three of those being recorded by Rangers hitters. Beltre recorded the last one on Aug. 24, 2012, and Bengie Molina miraculously completed the cycle in 2010. Rios is the third major-leaguer to hit for the cycle in 2013.
“I don’t think about that. I think about it as a good game at the plate and having good results,” Rios said.
After two more sacrifice flies made it a 12-0 game in the sixth inning, the Rangers emptied the bench in the seventh and eighth innings, bringing in five reserves.
Buried underneath Rios’s heroics and the high-octane Texas offense was Derek Holland’s complete game, and his first win since Aug. 4. Holland struck out nine Astros in the win, his first in Arlington since May 31.
It was the southpaw’s second complete-game shutout of the season. Holland expressed his gratitude for the run support after the game.
“It was good to see those guys do everything they did, and I wanted to make sure no matter what I wasn’t going to let anything happen with them putting runs up and getting some momentum back,” he said.
The 12 runs were the most for Texas in the month of September.
Wild Card leader Tampa Bay won in walk-off fashion against Baltimore earlier Monday. Cleveland, the second-place team in the Wild Card hunt, was idle. The Rangers are now one game back of the Indians for the final playoff spot in the American League.
Game two of three against the Astros is set for Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.