Joe Nathan had just pitched a scoreless ninth inning to keep the game tied on Wednesday, just as he did in the 10th inning Tuesday that preceded the Texas Rangers’ second consecutive walk-off victory.
Nathan took a seat in the dugout next to catcher Geovany Soto and said, “Why not another one?”
Soto agreed. “Why not?”
Adrian Beltre, leading off the bottom of the ninth, must’ve heard them from the batter’s box. He turned on a fastball and deposited it into the left-field seats to lift the Rangers to a 2-1 victory and a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark.
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It marked the third straight walk-off victory for the Rangers, the first time in club history they’ve accomplished that feat. It had been done twice before in franchise history by the Washington Senators in 1961 and 1965.
More importantly, it pulled the Rangers to within four games of the Oakland A’s in the American League West and gave them much-needed momentum after they lost eight of 10 coming out of the All-Star break.
“A sweep is big no matter when you get them, but the timing of this one is a little better and the fashion of this one is definitely better,” said Nathan, who earned his second win in as many nights.
“These kinds of wins give you energy. If these can’t give you a boost, what will? To come out and do it three nights in a row, especially after a tough series in Cleveland and just a bad start to the second half, hopefully gives us that energy and everything that we need to move forward.”
While Nathan got the win, Martin Perez certainly did his part. The rookie left-hander, who entered with a 9.00 ERA over his previous three starts, showed composure that had been missing.
He retired the first seven batters and had retired eight straight going into an at-bat against Josh Hamilton with one out in the seventh. Perez threw a fastball down in the zone, but Hamilton got to it and sent it over the right-center-field fence to tie the game at 1-1.
That was all Perez allowed, though, in a career-long 7 1/3 innings.
“It was big,” Perez said of bouncing back. “I trust more of what I have and what I can do and just want to continue to do the same.”
Perez exited with a runner on second and one out in the eighth, but Tanner Scheppers got out of the jam a night after his worst career outing. Nathan then worked around a one-out walk in the ninth to set up the late-inning heroics once again.
“Pitching staff did a great job,” manager Ron Washington said.
The staff did, especially on a night when the Rangers’ offense ran into three outs on the bases in the first three innings. Texas did take a 1-0 lead in the second on a solo homer by Nelson Cruz, but there could’ve been more of a cushion.
The Rangers had another opportunity in the eighth when Soto led off with a single to center, but he was thrown out at second on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Mitch Moreland.
It didn’t matter in the end, though, when Beltre came through in the clutch. Beltre had been struggling with runners in scoring position the past few weeks but had two RBI hits in those situations Tuesday, and he carried the momentum into Wednesday.
He led off the ninth against Angels right-hander Michael Kohn, fouled off three pitches and then sent the sixth pitch, a fastball, over the left-field fence.
Is there a better feeling?
“No, nothing man,” Beltre said. “It’s very nice to be able to walk off three times in a row. Hopefully it’ll get us over the hump, because we need to score more runs for our pitching staff.”