Texas Rangers

Calhoun caps big first week back in the majors with key hit in Rangers’ walk-off win

Calhoun’s first week couldn’t have gone much better

Willie Calhoun batted .476 over five games this week for the Texas Rangers, and he singled in the tying run in the 10th inning Sunday.
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Willie Calhoun batted .476 over five games this week for the Texas Rangers, and he singled in the tying run in the 10th inning Sunday.

That was quiet a week for the Texas Rangers against the state of Missouri.

It started Monday with Willie Calhoun at Triple A Nashville and continued Tuesday with a bad loss to one of the worst teams in baseball, the Kansas City Royals, to stretch the Rangers’ losing streak to five games. Elvis Andrus pulled his hamstring.

The offense, though, found itself the next two games with Calhoun replacing Andrus on the roster, and the momentum carried over into Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rougned Odor at one point hit homers in three straight at-bats, though the first two Thursday were against a position player.

The Rangers used an opener Friday, the former closer, and Adrian Sampson won his first career game.

A massive rain event ruined Saturday, and ended in a Rangers loss. Calhoun, though, extended his hitting streak to four games.

He had an encore for Sunday.

Calhoun delivered arguably the biggest hit of his career, a pinch-hit single that tied the game in the 10th and allowed Nomar Mazara to lift the walk-off sacrifice fly three batters later for a 5-4 victory over the Cardinals.

Danny Santana also played hero, coming off the bench with a bruised ankle to launch the tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning and racing home to score the winner on Mazara’s shallow fly ball to left-center.

Calhoun, though, was the week’s biggest star as the Rangers took 2 of 3 games from both teams located in the Show Me State. His first five games of the season couldn’t have gone much better.

“I don’t think so,” Calhoun said. “I was just trying to come up here and do what I was doing in Nashville and not trying to do to much and just doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”

Calhoun made four starts after his promotion, and the Rangers won three of them. He played in five straight games, and the Rangers won four of them.

He batted .476 (10 for 21) with two homers, seven RBIs, five runs scored and a 1.286 OPS. It’s a vast departure from the last time the Rangers saw Calhoun, leaving him in Nashville after a March 24 exhibition two days after he was inconsolable after missing out on the Opening Day roster.

But his attitude improved before leaving for the exhibition, and manager Chris Woodward received glowing reports about Calhoun each time he checked in with the Nashville coaching staff or players called up from Triple A.

It was Calhoun’s turn to be in the majors Wednesday, and he’s making a case that he shouldn’t go back.

“I can’t even put into words how proud I am of him,” Woodward said. “It didn’t affect him, clearly. He went down. He did everything he needed to do. He embraced our conversations. Hopefully he knows that regardless of what happens going forward, he’s done everything here to belong here.

“I can’t promise a player anything, but what he’s doing right now is pretty special.”

Santana was special Sunday, too, when only a few hours before the game Woodward was expecting him to not be available after taking a fastball of his ankle Saturday.

Santana, though, ran before the game, declared himself ready to go, and hit for Ronald Guzman against Andrew Miller in the eighth inning. Santana launched a homer to left to snap a 2-2 tie.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Dexter Fowler took interim closer Chris Martin deep with one out in the ninth. St. Louis scored once in the 10th against Jeanmar Gomez and had their flame-throwing closer, Jordan Hicks, on the mound.

Rougned Odor, though, started the inning with a single, and Santana followed that with a walk. Calhoun was next, and he delivered a single to right field to plate Odor with the tying run.

The Cardinals intentionally walked Shin-Soo Choo, and Carlos Martinez struck out Logan Forsythe for the first out. Martinez jumped ahead of Marzara, but the right fielder lifted a flyball just deep enough for the speedy Santana to score the winner.

“It was an amazing team win,” said starter Drew Smyly, who allowed two runs in four innings. “Our bullpen was outstanding the whole game. The offense kept battling, and we got some really good timely hits. It was a good series. That’s a good team, and to take 2 of 3 from them, that’s good.”

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

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