ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Even though he’s a rookie, Matt Joyce made a wise decision listening to veteran manager Jim Leyland.
Joyce homered twice, including a three-run shot in a nine-run seventh inning, and Armando Galarraga beat his former team as the Detroit Tigers defeated the slumping Texas Rangers 11-3 on Tuesday night.
Leyland, who is in his 17th season managing in the big leagues, pulled Joyce aside recently with a message.
“I talked to him the other day,” Leyland said. “I said, ‘You know, you have a chance to be a good player but you need to play with a little more tenacity.’ He said, ‘I can do that.’ If he bears down, grinds it out and goes the extra mile, he should be a very good player.”
Joyce has taken his skipper’s words to heart in the past two games against the Rangers. He is 4-for-8 with four runs scored and recorded the first multihomer game of his career.
Joyce’s blast gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead and keyed the huge inning as they rallied in the seventh for a second straight game.
“I thought I’d be in (Triple-A) Toledo all year and maybe be a September callup,” said Joyce, who was most recently promoted on June 29. “But it didn’t happen. I’m thankful for the opportunity to play at this level.”
Galarraga (12-4) had a shutout through five innings against the Rangers, who lead baseball in runs scored. The rookie right-hander allowed three runs and six hits, striking out five in six innings.
Texas designated Galarraga for assignment before spring training to make room for Jason Jennings, who has spent most of the season on the disabled list. The Tigers acquired Galarraga, who became the first rookie to 12 wins, on Feb. 4.
“They didn’t give me much of a chance,” said Galarraga, who is 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his last six starts. “I won’t be the first or the last. That’s baseball. But I’m glad because it gave me an opportunity to be in the big leagues.”
Rookie Chris Davis hit a three-run homer for the Rangers, who have lost 11 of 13 since they were a season-best six games over .500. Texas (62-65) fell three games under .500 for the first time since May 20.
The Rangers, who have the worst team ERA in baseball at 5.43, have allowed at least seven runs in 10 of 11 games.
“It’s not going to get any easier,” Rangers catcher Gerald Laird said. “We’re going to have to gut it out and get some momentum going into next season. We either turn it around or it’s going to be a long month and a half.”
Vicente Padilla (12-7), who was supposed to start Sunday but was pushed back because of an inflamed joint in his neck, gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings.
Texas led 3-1 going into the sixth before Detroit—who scored four in the seventh and eighth to rally from a 3-0 deficit Monday—struck again in the late innings.
Carlos Guillen walked and Gary Sheffield singled to set the stage for Joyce, who lined a 1-2 pitch into the upper deck in right for his 12th homer.
“We felt a little more comfortable,” Joyce said. “We got pitches we could do something with and had some big hits.”
Edgar Renteria homered four pitches later to knock Padilla out of the game.
Magglio Ordonez had an RBI single, and Miguel Cabrera had a run-scoring groundout to extend Detroit’s lead to 7-3.
The Tigers finished their scoring in the seventh thanks to a Texas gaffe in the outfield.
On Joyce’s fly ball to left center with the bases loaded, Josh Hamilton and Brandon Boggs both converged on the play.
They appeared to have a play on the ball before Hamilton and Boggs both stopped, allowing the ball to drop between them as three runs scored. Boggs, who was the left fielder, was given an error on the play.
“This was the worst game we’ve played all season,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The Tigers, 5-0 against Texas this season, have beaten the Rangers seven straight dating to last season.
Joyce’s home run leading off the fifth gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Davis’ 12th homer with two outs in the sixth gave Texas a 3-1 lead.
Rangers DH Milton Bradley was pulled from the game in the seventh with left knee soreness. … Tigers 2B Placido Polanco was scratched from the starting lineup about an hour before the first pitch with a sore right knee. He was replaced by Ramon Santiago. Leyland said after the game that Polanco will not play Wednesday. … Boggs was back in the lineup after leaving Monday night’s game in the seventh with a sore right shoulder.