Ian Desmond called it one of the best games he’s ever played in. Elvis Andrus said it showed the heart of his team. Manager Jeff Banister summed up Tuesday night’s theatrics in a word: Incredible.
The Texas Rangers’ stunning 13-11 comeback against the Chicago White Sox late Tuesday night played out like a three-act play. The drama in the final act, which came after 11 p.m., was one for the ages. Down 11-6 in the eighth, the Rangers scored seven runs, including Ryan Rua’s three-run homer to center that put them ahead 13-11.
By then, most of the 25,804 who paid for tickets were long gone, back home trying to dry themselves from heavy thunderstorms that delayed the game for an hour, 18 minutes.
Those that remained, however, witnessed the largest Rangers comeback since they overcame a six-run deficit against the Angels on Aug. 1, 2012.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak to the White Sox and is the club’s first win in their last at-bat this season. How did it happen? The Rangers reaction in three acts:
1. The First Act — The White Sox scored quickly in the first on three singles and a throwing error by starter Derek Holland. In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers responded with three singles of their own from Delino DeShields, Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre against Carlos Rodon. Rua’s single scored Odor to give Texas a 2-1 lead. Holland, seemingly settled down, worked a 1-2-3 second which included two strikeouts and a pop up. The Rangers had a couple hits but were also held scoreless in the second before action was paused for thunderstorms.
2. The Second Act — After the rain delay, Holland who had thrown 34 pitches in the first two innings, returned to the mound. After retiring the first batter, No. 9 hitter Austin Jackson, the next six White Sox reached, including doubles by Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie that knocked Holland from the game trailing 5-2. Anthony Ranaudo took over and recorded the final two outs of the third. Bryan Holaday’s three-run homer in the bottom of the inning tied it at 5-5. In the fourth, Ranaudo lost his command. After retiring Jackson, Ranaudo walked five of the next six batters, including two with the bases loaded. Alex Claudio relieved Ranaudo and promptly surrendered a bases-clearing double to Avisail Garcia to put the Rangers in a 10-5 hole where they remained through six innings.
3. The Finale — Desmond’s solo homer in the seventh pulled the Rangers to within 10-6 but the real threat of a full-scale comeback seemed unlikely, especially when Jimmy Rollins opened the eighth with a triple and later scored to push the White Sox’s lead back up to 11-6. Claudio, who was much-praised after the game by his manager and teammates, pitched 4 1/3 of relief work and earned the win after allowing one run on five hits and a walk.
“I know we have a great team and we can score runs,” Claudio said. “This is not the first time we’ve come back. I knew we could do it.”
In the bottom of the eighth, the first four Rangers reached, including an Andrus’ single and Bryan Holaday double. Nomar Mazara pinch-hit for Drew Stubbs and drew a six-pitch walk from Scott Carroll to load the bases. Mitch Moreland pinch-hit for Delino DeShields so the White Sox called on left-hander Zach Duke. After getting ahead 2-1, Moreland singled up the middle to drive in Andrus to make it 11-8. After Rougned Odor struck out, Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly against Matt Albers scored Holaday to make it 11-9. With two outs and in an 0-2 hole, Desmond took a ball before tripling to center to score Moreland and Holaday and pull the Rangers to within 11-10. Prince Fielder was pitched around and walked on four pitches to bring up Rua. He took a ball in the dirt before fouling off the next two pitches, both sinkers. He ripped the next pitch to straight away center to cap the amazing rally.
“I knew I hit it good, but with the wind and the elements tonight you never know,” Rua said. “I kind of saw Jackson give up on it so I knew I hit it well. Overall, it’s a great feeling, a great team win.”
Shawn Tolleson pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save.
“We didn’t give up until the last out and that’s what it showed,” Andrus said. “We have a lot of heart. It’s something we learned, especially last year. Baseball is crazy and you can’t take anything for granted until the last out.”
Banister appeared emotionally drained for an early May game. In the clubhouse, his players heaped praise on one another for grinding out at-bats, for Claudio’s extended relief duty, and for clutch plate appearances off the bench from Moreland and Mazara. And for Rua’s heroics down in the count.
“I don’t know but I love this damn team. What a team,” Desmond said. “That’s one of the best games I’ve ever played [in] in my life ... so many good things happened in that game. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight.”
I’ll second that.