Texas Rangers

Rangers' Mazara 'turning himself into a special player'

Nomar Mazara, second from right, is mobbed by his Rangers teammates after connecting for the game-winning homer in the 10th inning.
Nomar Mazara, second from right, is mobbed by his Rangers teammates after connecting for the game-winning homer in the 10th inning. AP

Nomar Mazara is 23 years old, and it's a fresh 23.

But this is his third season in the major leagues, and over the off-season he decided that his grace period was over.

He had made two full circuits around the league and seen its pitchers and how they try to get him out. He had no more excuses to be hitting around .260, to not be hitting left-handed pitchers, and to not be a better ballplayer.

Thirty-eight games into the Texas Rangers' season, he is.

That would have been true had he not beat the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday with the first walk-off homer of his career. But he did, driving a pitch down the right-field line and into the seats for a 5-4 victory and the Rangers' first series win at home this season.

It was Mazara's second homer of the day, after his game-tying shot in the seventh, and his fifth on the seven-game homestand. He's knocking on the door to stardom, if not knocking it down.

"I had a conversation right after the first home run with [Adrian] Beltre down in the tunnel behind the dugout," manager Jeff Banister said. "I talked about how Mazara is turning himself into a special player, and that's what he's doing. He showed that not only today but how he's been playing all year long."

Mazara is batting .294 with 10 homers and a team-high 26 RBIs the season after he drove in 101 runs. Seven of his homers have come this month, and he is showing a knack for delivering the key hits all while bouncing throughout the batting order as the Rangers have dealt with injuries to the middle of their lineup.

He said that he has found a plan at the plate that works for him, and his swing is where he wants it. He has learned that he's not always going to get a hit, but he is doing a better job of not missing his pitch or a pitcher's bad ones.

"My hands are working really, really good lately," Mazara said. "That's all I care about. When my hands are working like that, I don't have to move that much with my body. That's the key."

"I've got a better plan. I go up there and try to stick to my plan. Sometimes I'm going to get out of it. We understand that we're human. But when I'm at my best, I'm sticking to my plan, and that's what I'm doing right now."

He said that he wasn't trying to hit a home run when he led off the 10th inning against right-hander Warwick Saupold. Or when he took Daniel Stumpf deep in the seventh for his third homer of the season against a lefty.

Mazara entered the season with two career homers against port-siders.

"I've been really feeling good lately, but that's not what it's about," Mazara said. "It's about going out there and finding a way to win games. I went up there the last two at-bats and I was looking for something up in the zone and trying to keep my hands inside my body and try to elevate something."

He elevated the Rangers, who saw Beltre drive in two runs and Isiah Kiner-Falefa drive in another as they took a 3-2 lead after three innings.

The Tigers scored an unearned run in the fifth against Bartolo Colon before taking the lead in the sixth off Jesse Chavez. Colon lasted only five innings, throwing 98 pitches as the Tigers were patient against the veteran right-hander as he lacked his best command.

He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in five innings. The bullpen allowed only the one run in the sixth in its five innings, thanks in part to the fine work of Jose Leclerc, Jake Diekman and Keone Kela.

And the Rangers had an improving Mazara for the win.

"That's the most important thing," Colon said. "We won."

Rangers 5, Tigers 4

Detroit

002

011

000

0

4

10

0

Texas

102

000

100

1

5

7

2

Detroit<QM>

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Jones cf

4

1

2

0

1

1

.245

Candelario 3b

4

0

1

1

1

1

.286

Mahtook lf

4

0

1

1

0

1

.143

Hicks 1b

5

0

0

0

0

3

.246

Goodrum rf

5

1

2

0

0

2

.210

McCann dh

3

0

1

1

1

1

.278

Reyes pr-dh

1

0

0

0

0

1

.130

Greiner c

5

0

1

0

0

2

.222

Iglesias ss

4

0

0

0

0

1

.220

Kozma 2b

3

2

2

1

0

0

.667

Martinez ph

1

0

0

0

0

1

.252

Machado 2b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.210



Texas<QM>

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

1

2

0

0

4

0

.297

Kiner-Falefa 2b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.255

Mazara rf

4

2

2

2

1

0

.294

Beltre dh

2

0

1

2

1

0

.333

Gallo 1b-lf

3

0

0

0

1

3

.213

Profar ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

.220

Nunez 3b

3

0

1

0

0

2

.167

Rua lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.191

Guzman 1b

1

0

1

0

0

0

.209

Perez c

3

0

0

0

0

1

.100



No outs when winning run scored.

E—Nunez 2 (5). LOB—Detroit 10, Texas 7. 2B—Candelario (12), Goodrum 2 (6). 3B—Mahtook (1), Kiner-Falefa (1). HR—Kozma (1), off Colon; Mazara (9), off Stumpf; Mazara (10), off Saupold. RBIs—Candelario (16), Mahtook (2), McCann (14), Kozma (1), Kiner-Falefa (11), Mazara 2 (26), Beltre 2 (12). SB—DeShields (7). SF—Mahtook, Beltre. S—Iglesias, Kiner-Falefa, Perez. Runners left in scoring position—Detroit 7 (Jones 2, Candelario 2, Hicks, Goodrum, Iglesias); Texas 4 (Kiner-Falefa, Profar 3). RISP—Detroit 2 for 13; Texas 2 for 11. Runners moved up—Kiner-Falefa, Mazara, DeShields. LIDP—Rua. GIDP—Hicks, Mazara, Perez. DP—Detroit 4 (Iglesias, Kozma, Hicks), (Jones, Kozma), (Kozma, Iglesias, Hicks), (Hicks, Candelario); Texas 1 (Nunez, Kiner-Falefa, Gallo).

Detroit

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Liriano

4

4

3

3

4

3

81

3.35

Hardy

2

0

0

0

2

2

25

2.70

Barbato, H 1

<AF>2/3

0

0

0

1

0

6

7.36

Stumpf, BS 3-3

<AF>1/3

1

1

1

0

0

8

4.05

Jimenez

1

0

0

0

0

3

12

3.50

Saupold L 1-1

1

2

1

1

0

0

17

3.00

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Colon

5

6

3

2

1

4

98

3.32

Chavez

<AF>2/3

3

1

1

0

1

20

5.48

Leclerc

1<AF>1/3

0

0

0

1

4

26

2.19

Jepsen

<AF>1/3

0

0

0

1

0

13

4.60

Diekman

<AF>2/3

0

0

0

0

2

8

4.15

Kela, W 3-2

2

1

0

0

0

3

23

5.14

Liriano pitched to 2 batters in the 5th. Inherited runners-scored—Hardy 2-0, Leclerc 2-0, Diekman 2-0. HBP—Liriano 2 (Profar,Nunez). WP—Liriano, Kela. Umpires—Home, Angel Hernandez; First, Todd Tichenor; Second, Alan Porter; Third, Bill Miller. T—3:22. A—30,387 (49,115).

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