It’s only one win, but c’mon. Maybe this Rangers club has one more run up its sleeve. Their dramatic come-from-behind win Friday night that included a two-run, game-tying homer by Shin-Soo Choo (more on him below) and a go-ahead infield single by Elvis Andrus in the 10th, had the sort of grit (no hashtag needed) that reminded you of the team that won the A.L. West the past two seasons.
The players in the clubhouse and their manager haven’t given up on the season. That was true before Friday’s game, despite the looming five-game losing streak. Manager Jeff Banister bluntly said before the game that the Rangers had not played good baseball the past five days.
“We have to start somewhere at one,” Banister said. “You snap a streak. We need to snap something and begin something else.”
Here’s to new beginnings ... and here’s the Rangers reaction after a skid-snapping, extra-inning win in St. Pete:
1. Darvish dynamite — Yu Darvish keeps doing his thing and the Rangers’ offense keeps doing its thing. It hasn’t been a good mix in 2017. For eight inning Friday night, it was the same old same old. Darvish pitches well, but not well enough and the offense provides him with bupkis support. Darvish allowed three runs (all on solo homers) on five hits. He also struck out a staff-high 12 batters, the most for him since he struck out 12 Rays on Sept. 30, 2016.
In eight of his past 10 starts, the Rangers have scored two or fewer runs. They’ve scored a total of four runs with Darvish on the mound over his past six starts.
“I try not to pay attention to that stuff. I just go out there and try to do my job,” Darvish, who lowered his ERA to 3.44. He then joked, “Maybe I’m going to start hitting.”
He went eight innings for the second time this season and did it on 101 pitches, including 78 strikes. He’s thrown more pitches 10 times in less innings this season. It’s Darvish’s 32nd game with 10 or more strikeouts, second only to Nolan Ryan’s 34 for the club all-time record.
“That’s a guy you always want to see on the mound. He battled the whole game,” said Andrus, who homered in the first and had two of the Rangers’ four RBIs. “I’m really happy we were able to get those runs and get the game back.”
2. Double your pleasure — The Rangers only made one double play Friday night but it couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment. With a runner on first and no outs in the bottom of the 10th, Adeiny Hechavarria tried to bunt Steven Souza over to second. Catcher Robinson Chirinos was all over it and quickly fielded the ball, which had died just in front of home plate. Chirinos immediately went to Elvis Andrus at second base to start a 2-6-3 double play. Chirinos reacted so quickly and threw a strike to Andrus that the play at first on Hechavarria wasn’t even close. Before the pitch, Andrus reminded de facto closer Alex Claudio and Chirinos about the double play chance with a bunt coming. Andrus told Claudio to execute his pitch down in the zone (Claudio’s specialty).
“When I saw that ball right in front of my eyes I knew I was going to have a play at second base,” Chirinos said. “It’s pretty much a reaction play. Elvis told him to try to go after him the first pitch. [Claudio] executed down and it was perfect. We did it right.”
Said Andrus: “I was trying to let Claudio know that we would turn the double play. Chirinos was ready. It was a really well-aware play. Chirinos did the rest. He anticipated that hop and he gave it to me really quick.”
3. Choo’s redemption — Does it all begin and end with Shin-Soo Choo? His error on a fly ball lost in the sun in Sunday’s finale in Kansas City started the Rangers’ five-game losing streak. Of course, Choo wasn’t the only reason for the loss. How fitting, though, was it to have Choo smack the opposite-field, two-run homer to tie the game in the ninth Friday night?