By Mark Miller – firstname.lastname@example.org
In a season that lasts more than six months, it’s hard for one game to make a huge difference but if the Texas Rangers win the American League West division this year they can count Aug. 1 as one of those rare times.
After losing two of three games to the Chicago White Sox and the first two to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Rangers and pitcher Yu Darvish were down 7-1 after three innings to their arch rivals. Another loss would cut their lead to just two games. But they rallied not once, but twice to pull out an 11-10 victory in 10 innings. It was reminiscent of Game 6 of last year’s World Series when the same thing happened to the Rangers against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It was a test of our character as a team and organization,” said Manager Ron Washington. “Our backs were against the wall but the guys pulled together and showed what they are made of and pulled if off.”
Texas entered the game with just four hits in its last 42 at-bats with runners in scoring position, which keyed the four losses in five games. It also epitomized the entire month of July when the team had a 9-14 record, batted just .243 and scored just 81 runs. The 3.52 runs per game was the lowest for a month by the team in nearly 20 years.
But the Rangers started the new month with 17 hits and went 8-for-18 with runners in scoring position. They tied it thanks to a four-run fourth inning and solo runs in the eighth and ninth, the latter courtesy of Ian Kinsler’s home run.
After Joe Nathan gave up a solo homer to Chris Iannetta and a two-run shot by Albert Pujols in the 10th, things seemed doomed again. Then Nelson Cruz opened the bottom of the inning with a homer and Elvis Andrus ended it with a two-run single to win the game.
“It was exactly what we needed,” said outfielder David Murphy. “It feels a whole lot better.”
The Rangers won their next three including 15-9 the next night against the Angels. Even after losing 7-6 in Sunday’s finale at Kansas City, the Rangers ended the week six games ahead of the Angels and 5.5 games in front of Oakland and feeling a whole lot better about themselves.
AL East teams next
With the Rangers done with their AL West rivals until September, it’s on to two weeks against the American League East primarily on the road. After finishing a three-game set at Boston on Wednesday, they are home for the weekend against the Detroit Tigers, then go to New York for four games against the Yankees.
Detroit trailed the Chicago White Sox by 1.5 games entering this week after sweeping Cleveland. Since Texas took two of three games from them at home in June, the Tigers have added starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from Miami and utility player Jeff Baker from the Chicago Cubs.
The Yankees and Rangers shared the American League’s best record entering this week and will play for the only time in New York. Texas took two of three games in Arlington in April.
The major difference for New York is addition of outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from Seattle and the loss of third baseman Alex Rodriquez to a broken hand. The Yankees picked up Casey McGehee from Pittsburgh to fill in for A-Rod.
8/8 @Red Sox 12:35 p.m.
8/10 Tigers 7:05 p.m.
8/11 Tigers 7:05 p.m.
8/12 Tigers 2:05 p.m.
8/13 @Yankees 6:05 p.m.
8/14 @Yankees 6:05 p.m.