ARLINGTON -- The story of the game was certainly Tommy Hunter as he led the Rangers to a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday. He went the complete game, the first since C.J. Wilson on May 7. Some thoughts:
* Hunter was very impressive. He was looking forward to making his first major league start of 2010 and he made it count. He utilized all of his pitches, including the changeup he's worked so hard on recently. Hunter allowed one run (a solo homer in the second). He didn't walk anyone and wasn't afraid to make the Rays put the ball in play. He was efficient, throwing 117 (76 strikes) in nine innings. In fact, he was his most efficient later in the game, throwing 12 pitches in the sixth, 10 in the seventh and 10 in the eighth. It was the second career complete game for Hunter.
* The crowd really got behind Hunter, which was good to see. He got a standing ovation as he left the mound after the eighth and they stood and cheered for much of the ninth inning while he was out there.
Hunter had some runners on base, but never panicked. He did a good job of mixing up his deliveries to keep runners tight on the bag and he stayed aggressive. The result: he pitched out of jams and got deep in the game. Don't underestimate the importance of giving the bullpen a break, either. It was a great way to start his 2010 season and just what the Rangers needed. More on Hunter in Ranger Reax.
* Josh Hamilton is certainly locked in these days, especially against right-handers. Maybe the biggest sign that he's feeling good at the plate is that he hit a long homer in a day game. Coming into Saturday's game, Hamilton had a .213 batting average in day games. But he crushed a ball with Ian Kinsler on base in the first to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead early. Hamilton was hitting .331 with nine homers and 27 RBIs coming in (and just .231 with one homers and 3 RBIs against lefties).
* Hamilton now has 11 home runs, one more than he did all of last year. He's also ..3-for-4... with two doubles, two homers, three RBIs and three runs scored so far in this series.
* Julio Borbon continues to hit well and he added a successful suicide squeeze to his Saturday resume in the sixth inning. The Rays were expecting it, but Borbon got the good bunt down and David Murphy scored. Borbon's single in the fourth kept his average up above .250. He looks much better at homeplate. It was a good call by Ron Washington as well, knowing the Rays have a history of late-inning comebacks. A triple by Andrus got the Rangers another run in the inning.
* The heat had to effect the players. There were four errors combined in the first four innings. Nothing like a 3:10 p.m. start with the Fox thermometer showing the temperature at 120 degrees on the field at one point. Can anyone keep their focus and stamina up for a whole game dealing with that?
* The thick infield grass played a part in the game. John Jaso's ground ball to lead off the first came slowly to Elvis Andrus, who bobbled it and was charged with an error. Tommy Hunter got out of the inning without allowing any damage. Justin Smoak, not exactly a fast runner, hit one that died in the grass for an infield hit in the second. He ended up scoring.
* Kinsler, who struggled on the recent road trip, got a break when his hard-hit ball wasn't fielded by third baseman Evan Longoria. It was scored an error, but the play scored Andrus with the game's first run. When things aren't going well, you'll take anything you can get. The bottom line: Kinsler did what he needed to do to score the run. The error meant all three first-inning runs were unearned. Kinsler also had good plate discipline, drawing a lead off walk in the third. He had a single in the seventh to end an 0-for-16 string.
* Strange play in the fourth as the Rangers got a huge break. Tommy Hunter got a strikeout of Carlos Pena with a runner at third, but the ball got away from catcher Max Ramirez. It bounced off the back stop and straight back to Ramirez, who ran back to home and got the runner in a run down. Ramirez was charged with a passed ball and Hunter got the next hitter to end the inning with no damage done. But to have the ball bounce perfectly back to the catcher was some good luck.