Texas Rangers

Santana comes up clutch in debut as Rangers rally from five-run deficit

Delino Deshields said Athletics weren’t respecting prospect of bunt

Texas Rangers' Delino Deshields said the Oakland Athletics infield wasn't respecting the prospect of a squeeze bunt with two outs and the go-ahead run at third in the eighth inning Sunday.
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Texas Rangers' Delino Deshields said the Oakland Athletics infield wasn't respecting the prospect of a squeeze bunt with two outs and the go-ahead run at third in the eighth inning Sunday.

Welcome to Arlington, Danny Santana.

Santana, who was called up from Triple A Nashville, tied Sunday’s game with a two-run, pinch-hit, triple in the eighth inning and Delino DeShields laid down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt that scored the go-ahead run as the Texas Rangers rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 8-7.

It was Santana’s first at-bat in the majors since he was with the Braves last July. Closer Jose Leclerc pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save.

“I didn’t need to put any pressure on me, I just needed to look for a good pitch to hit,” Santana said through interpreter Eleno Ornelas. “(Third-base coach Tony) Beasley told me (DeShields) was going to bunt and he did.”

For much of the game Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park, the A’s were doing the bullying.

Adrian Sampson’s first start of the season after two excellent long relief outings was a struggle.

Sampson, who has been tasked with filling Edinson Volquez’s spot in the rotation, was knocked from the game after four innings. He was charged with seven runs on eight hits, including two solo home runs. He threw 78 pitches in the four innings.

The A’s scored a run in each of the first three innings and then blew it open with four runs in the fourth to take a 7-2 lead.

Solo homers from Stephen Piscotty in the second and Matt Chapman in the third helped Oakland take a 3-2 lead. With two outs in the fourth, Jurickson Profar walked before the A’s put together four consecutive hits, including the back-breaker, a two-run double by Marcus Semien.

The Rangers’ offense, meanwhile, was held in check by A’s left-hander Brett Anderson after scoring twice in the first inning. Elvis Andrus tripled in Delino DeShields and Andrus stole home on Anderson’s throw to first.

“Through my whole career, I’ve always wanted to do it, especially a lefty that is really slow, they have a long leg (kick) to first base,” said Andrus, who has stolen home five times in his career. “He did it one time, and I started calling (Nomar) Mazara to try to get more, more, more, because I wanted (him to do throw over) again. I talked to Beasley and said ‘If he does that again, I’m going to home plate.’”

The bullpen held Oakland scoreless the final five innings, including two innings from Jeanmar Gomez, who allowed a hit and struck out three.

Texas tacked on runs in the fifth and seventh to pull to within three, including Andrus’ third homer this season. Anderson held the Rangers to three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks in six innings. All four of the Rangers’ hits came from the top of the order.

The bottom half of the order was hitless until Asdrubal Cabrera singled in a run in the eighth to pull Texas to within 7-5. That set up Santana, who was pinch-hitting for Patrick Wisdom. After Santana’s triple, Jeff Mathis popped up to third for the second out.

“I was really happy to get Danny in there,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who said Joey Gallo was not an option off the bench because of an illness. “There is something about him. He is a special guy with special talent. You saw the speed, the power, who he is. Everybody liked him in spring training so I am really excited to see what he can do.

“Moving forward, with (Rougned Odor) down and (Ronald Guzman) down, he is going to see significant playing time. Hopefully we can get some of the same things out of him.”

With two outs, DeShields laid down the squeeze bunt towards third and catcher Josh Phegley’s throw to first was late, allowing Santana to score the go-ahead run. DeShields wasn’t thinking about a bunt at first, and had a 1-1 count when he got the signal from Beasley.

“I looked around at the defense and they weren’t respecting it, in my opinion,” DeShields said. “I just figured if I got it down early and put it where I wanted it, I could get there. It’s something I do every day. I take a lot of pride in it. If you can execute it, and I’m confident in a situation like that I can get the job done.”

Rangers manager Chris Woodward explains why he chose to have Delino Deshields lay down a squeeze bunt in the 8th Sunday.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.