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Rangers revitalize playoff hopes with sweep of Rays

Jeff Banister: 'Show of heart and grit' bodes well for Rangers

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said the way his club rallied for three consecutive games to sweep the Rays after losing five in a row showed a heart and grit (Video by Stefan Stevenson).
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Rangers manager Jeff Banister said the way his club rallied for three consecutive games to sweep the Rays after losing five in a row showed a heart and grit (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

Hold on just a second, people. This thing ain’t over yet.

After taking a mandatory eight count earlier this week in Baltimore, the Texas Rangers got off the mat in Florida.

Whether it was smelling salts, a slap in the face or simply a realization that time is running out, the Rangers rallied for three straight comeback wins over the Tampa Bay Rays, including a 6-5 victory Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

They return home to Globe Life Park in Arlington after going 5-5 on their post-All-Star break road trip against Kansas City, Baltimore and Tampa Bay (all contending teams).

Texas won the first two before dropping five in a row to tie their season-high losing streak. They looked like sellers when they arrived in Tampa with the July 31 trade deadline approaching. But are they now as a nine-game homestand begins Monday against the Marlins?

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said the offense stayed confident before rallying for the third time to sweep the Rays Sunday afternoon (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

“We’re a contending team,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We’re the reigning West champions. That has to be our attitude. Whatever happened in the season, that’s in the past. We have too much talent to play the way we’ve been playing.”

One of the integral parts of the offense, Rougned Odor, showed up big Sunday. He had two home runs, including a game-tying, two-run shot in the eighth. Carlos Gomez followed Odor with a go-ahead solo homer that put the Rangers ahead for good.

The bullpen, another area that burned the Rangers earlier this season, was outstanding in the series, especially Sunday. Starter Tyson Ross left with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, but Tony Barnette came in and got a fly out to end the inning and hold the deficit to 5-2.

Barnette had four strikeouts in 2  1/3 innings of relief before Matt Bush and Jason Grilli each pitched a scoreless frame. Jose Leclerc earned his second save despite putting on the go-ahead run with two walks in the ninth. After a visit from manager Jeff Banister, Leclerc struck out Steven Souza swinging on three consecutive changeups to end the game.

The bullpen threw 10  1/3 scoreless innings in the series.

“I just wanted to make sure we were going at the right pace, were settled down and focused on the set of pitches we wanted to throw and how we wanted to attack Souza,” Banister said.

The wild-card race is still a logjam of eight teams with the Rangers near the bottom of the scrum — 2  1/2 games back of the second spot.

The Rangers are not only headed home for the next nine, but they’re headed home for 36 of their final 64 games. Five of those road games are against NL East teams — the Braves and Mets who currently are under .500 and may soon go into full tank mode. They also play the Athletics (44-54) 10 times.

Adrian Beltre, who had two hits and his first triple of the season, hopes the offense has turned a corner for the stretch run.

Rangers reliever Jose Leclerc earned his second save after striking out Steven Souza with two on and two outs in the ninth (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

“Our offense is not where we want it to be right now. We’re doing better. We’re doing things when we need to do them,” he said. “It’s a work in progress. Sometimes teams go through a little funk. It’s not one or two guys, it’s the whole team. We know we can do better than we have. Hopefully, we can do this more often.”

Working against them? They still have to play the other AL West teams. They have six games remaining against the division-leading Astros, who are winning at a ridiculous pace. They have 10 more against both the Mariners and Angels — both right in the middle of the wild-card scramble with the Rangers.

“Our guys know what the urgency is to win baseball games,” Banister said. “To win them in the fashion that we did in this set of three, just a show of heart and grit that these guys have. I think it’s a huge plus for us going forward.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Texas

020

010

030

6

8

1

Tampa Bay

020

300

000

5

6

0

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Choo rf

4

0

0

0

1

3

.248

Andrus ss

5

0

0

0

0

2

.287

Mazara lf

2

0

0

0

3

2

.240

Beltre 3b

5

1

2

0

0

1

.283

Napoli dh

3

1

0

1

1

1

.202

Odor 2b

4

2

2

3

0

1

.214

Gomez cf

4

1

2

1

0

1

.249

Gallo 1b

4

1

2

1

0

1

.194

Chirinos c

1

0

0

0

0

0

.227

Lucroy ph-c

2

0

0

0

1

0

.243

Totals 34

6

8

6

6

12

Tampa Bay AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Dickerson dh

4

0

0

0

1

3

.308

Miller 2b

3

0

1

1

2

2

.202

Bourjos pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Longoria 3b

5

0

1

0

0

1

.268

Morrison 1b

4

0

0

0

1

2

.252

Souza Jr. rf

2

2

0

0

2

2

.270

Peterson lf

3

2

1

0

0

1

.253

Hechavarria ss

3

0

1

1

1

2

.273

Smith cf

4

1

2

2

0

0

.291

Sucre c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.244

Ramos ph-c

1

0

0

0

0

0

.222

Totals 32

5

6

4

7

13

E—Chirinos (3). LOB—Texas 8, Tampa Bay 9. 2B—Gomez (14), Smith (5). 3B—Beltre (1). HR—Odor (18), off Odorizzi; Gallo (23), off Odorizzi; Odor (19), off Boxberger; Gomez (13), off Boxberger. RBIs—Napoli (46), Odor 3 (43), Gomez (34), Gallo (43), Miller (22), Hechavarria (11), Smith 2 (8). SB—Gallo (6), Souza Jr. (5), Peterson (2), Smith (15), Sucre (2). SF—Napoli. DP—Texas 1.

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Ross

3 2/3

4

5

4

4

5

83

7.52

Barnette

2 1/3

1

0

0

0

4

28

5.87

Bush, W, 3-4

1

1

0

0

1

1

20

3.50

Grilli, H, 2

1

0

0

0

0

1

14

5.68

Leclerc, S, 2-3

1

0

0

0

2

2

24

3.03

Tampa Bay

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Odorizzi

4

4

3

3

3

5

95

4.47

Ramirez

1

0

0

0

1

1

17

4.80

Kolarek, H, 1

 2/3

1

0

0

0

0

10

5.68

Hunter, H, 9

1 1/3

0

0

0

0

2

17

1.74

Boxberger, L, 2-2, BS, 1-1

1

2

3

3

1

2

25

4.91

Kittredge

1

1

0

0

1

2

21

3.86

Inherited runners-scored—Barnette 3-0, Ramirez 2-0, Hunter 1-0. HBP—Ross (Souza Jr.). T—3:54. A—16,954 (31,042).

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