The loudest roar at Coors Field on Monday night came after the Texas Rangers tied the game at 3-all in the ninth inning on Elvis Andrus’ two-run single.
Rangers fans kept it up after Mitch Moreland put them ahead 4-3 and after the double play behind Jake Diekman that ended the victory over the Colorado Rockies.
The stands weren’t just dotted with Rangers colors. There were sections full of Rangers fans.
The reason? A Rangers Destinations trip organized through the club, the fourth and final one of the season.
Those who came from Texas, and those Rangers fans living in the great state of Colorado, left awfully happy for the bars of LoDo or other parts in the Mile High City.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 victory Monday night.
1. Rougned Odor was less than a week removed from an aggressive base running move in the ninth inning of a close game at Baltimore, and though he executed everything on his end, he made the second out as the potential tying run in a 3-2 loss at Baltimore.
Like a good closer or cornerback, Odor has a short memory.
The second baseman, along with Jurickson Profar behind him, pulled off a double steal in the ninth inning and scored a few pitches later on Andrus’ game-tying two-run single.
Manager Jeff Banister credited Rangers coaches and scouts for identifying the possibility against Rockies closer Carlos Estevez, and Odor and Profar said that they were talking about a double steal in the dugout before the ninth inning started.
“And then we went and did it,” Profar said.
Estevez had just walked Profar with one out and was struggling to find his command. Estevez is slow to the plate anyway, but he was paying no mind to the base runners with his control fading.
“We looked at each other, and then we just ran,” Odor said. “When the pitcher isn’t throwing strikes, ‘He’s like, ‘Nah, I don’t worry about the runners.’ I was like, ‘OK, he’s not throwing strikes. I’m just going to go on the first pitch.’”
Profar pumped his fists as he slid into second base. He easily scored from second as Andrus ripped a liner to center field. Andrus then scored easily from first base as Moreland sent a liner into the right-field corner.
Diekman, working in a save situation as Banister tried to stay away from using Sam Dyson and Jeremy Jeffress on a third consecutive day, pitched around a leadoff single to wrap up the Rangers’ third consecutive victory.
The last two wins have come in their final at-bat, and they are winning games even though their offense isn’t exactly piling up the runs.
So, they are going to take chances like the double steal to give the offense as many chances as possible.
“It’s not how we wrote it up, but it was nice how it worked out there at the end of the game,” Moreland said.
2. So what can a win like the most recent one-run thriller do for a team that is struggling offensively and yet is still finding a way to win games as it tries to put away a division title?
A lot, apparently.
“Those wins really mean a lot,” Andrus said. “We’ve been doing that a lot this year, hustling and playing to the last out.”
“That’s our team,” Profar said. “We know that we’re never going to quit and we have a lot of good players that are going to keep us in the game.”
Said Banister: “They’ve got a plan, they’ve got a mission, and they’re going to stay engaged the whole time. It isn’t always going to look pretty, but you have to draw it up in the dirt some nights.”
Don’t discount what Cole Hamels did in helping fuel the win, grinding through six innings as Rockies hitters kept fouling away pitches and pushing his pitch count to 115.
The offense eventually took his lead, grinding away late to give themselves chances in the eighth and ninth. They finally delivered in their last gasp.
“His command was off, and he wasn’t feeling that sharp,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of Hamels. “We battled through it. That’s all you can do. They [aces] are so good that even on a bad day they are able to battle and give the team a chance to win, and that’s what he did.”
3. Watching from afar over the weekend, the Houston Astros look like a team barely hanging onto contender status in the American League West. For everyone who has been whining about the Rangers’ offense, it’s better than the Astros’ lineup.
And the standings now agree that the slumping Astros are barely hanging on. They entered Monday in third place in the American League West, a half-game behind the Seattle Mariners, and dropped to 8 1/2 games behind the Rangers after a sloppy 3-1 loss to Minnesota.
There’s a chance for the Astros to slip further behind the Rangers and Mariners the next two weeks, and for the Mariners to close in on the Rangers.
The Astros on Monday embarked on a stretch in which they play 14 of 16 games on the road, including series at Toronto and at Baltimore, and their two home games are against St. Louis. The Mariners, meanwhile, opened a stretch in which only one of their the next six opponents are above .500, and they are facing that one team, Detroit, right now.
The Rangers don’t exactly have it rough the next two weeks, with only two teams with a winning record (Detroit and Cleveland, both at home) and with consecutive series against Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.
Of course, the games still have to be played, and who knows what where things will stand once these stretches are finished. But with a four-man offense, rookies struggling as replacement players, and arguably their best starting pitcher in the midst of a two-week throwing moratorium because of a bum elbow, the Astros aren’t trending the right way.