With a five game lead in the AL West after bombing the Angels in front of a national TV audience (ESPN), 13-6, the Texas Rangers have the best record in the league and are essentially steamrolling their way toward what seems a probable third consecutive World Series appearance.
In Sunday's slug-fest, the Rangers banged out 19 base hits, eight of them for extra bases, and, even though Josh Hamilton didn't hit a home run, Nelson Cruz - who hasn't gotten off to a very great start - did, and it was one which blew the game wide open, a third inning grand slam of Angel ace, Jered Weaver, that made the score 6-2 and sent the starter to the showers only 3 1/3 innings into the game.
The Rangers continued to pile up the hits and runs; Cruz went 4-for-4 - a double and two singles - and scored three runs to go with his four RBI. Texas took two of three in the series and remain home for a pair of two-game series against the Royals and A's before next weekend's interleague play at Houston.
Votto's 4-for-5 effort included a double, three homers, six RBI and four runs, as the Reds' first baseman nearly single-handedly kept the Reds from being swept by the Nationals with a 9-6 victory.
Votto belted a solo job in the first and another in the fourth inning, which tied the game briefly at two, but the Nats eventually held a 6-5 edge heading into the bottom of the ninth. With HVVV Rodriguez in to close out the contest, the Reds loaded the bases on a single, sacrifice, foul out and a pair of walks, setting up Votto for his specialty, the long ball, which he delivered to straightaway center to the delight of the home crowd.
The Reds pursuit will become more difficult starting Monday as they travel to red-hot Atlanta while the Cardinals host the Cubs. Both are two-game series.