For a season short on Texas Rangers heroes, Sunday’s walk-off win certainly produced a lot of them.
Atop the list is Adam Rosales, whose ninth-inning RBI single to left field beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 at Globe Life Park. The win snapped a four-game losing streak and salvaged a 2-5 homestand.
It was the Rangers’ sixth walk-off win in 2014, and second in six days. The first four all came in April. Rosales drew a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk in the 14th inning to beat Tampa Bay on Tuesday. He’ll keep playing the hero role, if necessary.
“I had one [walk-off hit] in college and that’s it, but I think I’m more of a table-setter,” he said. “It’s a thrill for sure to help a ballclub win in the clutch and that’s what helped me today.”
Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre started the ninth with singles through the left side against closer Huston Street, who had converted nine consecutive save opportunities and thrown 12 scoreless innings since being traded to the Angels from the Padres in July.
Mike Carp, who entered as a pinch hitter for J.P. Arencibia in the seventh, sent the first pitch he saw from Street to shallow center field to score Rios and tie the score. Beltre moved to third on the play and scored easily when Rosales’ fly ball sailed over Angels left fielder Collin Cowgill, who was playing shallow.
For the second time in six games, Rosales was mobbed near first base by teammates, who playfully ripped at his jersey in celebration.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to do,” Carp said. “I went and touched second and turned right back around, and by that time everyone was already ripping his jersey off and throwing water bottles at him.
“It’s good fun, especially the way things have been going for the team lately ... to have games like this, it helps boost confidence and keeps us going this month and a half.”
Confidence should be sky high for the other heroes of the day, the Rangers’ pitching staff.
Starter Nick Tepesch had his fourth consecutive solid start and left after walking the leadoff batter in the eighth. He allowed two runs and six hits with four walks and a strikeout in seven innings.
Tepesch was able to limit the damage in the second after four straight singles helped the Angels take a 2-0 lead.
“That second inning, it really could have gotten ugly,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “In the past it may have, but that’s the new Nick Tepesch. He was able to slow it down. He was executing pitches all day. He didn’t let traffic bother him. He kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance.”
In the fourth, Tepesch walked Efren Navarro to start the inning but stranded him at third after starting an inning-ending double play, snaring a line-drive comebacker and doubling up Cowgill at first.
Shawn Tolleson, who replaced Tepesch in the eighth with a runner on and no outs, quickly had the bases loaded after a double from Albert Pujols and an intentional walk.
Pujols’ double could have perhaps scored Mike Trout, who was on first. But Trout slid into second base thanks to a decoy double-play move by Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor while Pujols’ drive was banging against the left-field wall. The decoy kept Trout at third instead of giving the Angels a 3-1 lead.
Tolleson struck out Erick Aybar and David Freese, and left-hander Neal Cotts came in and struck out the left-handed-hitting Navarro to escape the jam.
“That was huge right there,” said Washington, who told Tolleson when he made the switch for Cotts: “I don’t know if you’ve got a heartbeat, but mine is about to jump out of my chest. That’s one heck of a job you just did right there.”
The Rangers had been held to four hits before collecting four consecutive singles off Street in the ninth.
“We never gave up,” catcher Geovany Soto said. “The pitching kept us in there. We were in a tough spot right there [in the eighth] and [Tolleson and Cotts] bailed us out.”
Said Rosales: “Every at-bat my heart is pumping and that’s what I try to remind myself, it’s just another at-bat. I really didn’t care if it dropped. I saw him give up on it; I knew that it would get the run in. Once I saw the ball drop, you get that release of joy and that happy feeling.”