Texas Rangers

Rangers’ energy expert says there is a new source of enthusiasm from young players

Key in-game adjustment led to Pence’s late heroics for Texas Rangers

Hunter Pence drove in three runs Wednesday in the final three innings, including the game-winner, as the Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-7.
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Hunter Pence drove in three runs Wednesday in the final three innings, including the game-winner, as the Texas Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 8-7.

Anyone who has watched Hunter Pence’s MLB career knows that he doesn’t need a a Red Bull or double shot of espresso to get his baseball motor revving.

The unbridled joy he takes in playing the game and in winning ballgames could be witnessed Wednesday night after his walk-off hit in the Texas Rangers’ 8-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Pence was mobbed by hits teammates, who ripped his jersey off him, but he was still jumping around shirtless while high on the win.

He is an energy expert if there ever was one. And he’s sensing a new source, even if himself doesn’t need it.

All these young guys dotting the Rangers’ roster are helping to reinvigorate the team as it heads through the dog days of August and tries to finish 2019 on a high note.

“There’s absolutely been a spark from a lot of these youngsters,” Pence said Wednesday. “It’s a lot of fun being around the success and a lot of youngsters coming up.”

The Rangers have won two of the three games started by rookie left-hander Kolby Allard, who was acquired July 30 from the Atlanta Braves.

Willie Calhoun, who has taken a bite into Pence’s playing time, has been one of the Rangers’ best hitters this month. Nick Solak made an impact in his first two days on the team, and he also had his jersey ripped off in a walk-off win Tuesday night.

Brock Burke, another rookie lefty, started that game and delivered six scoreless innings. Jonathan Hernandez was the winning pitcher Wednesday after providing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Both were making their MLB debuts.

“When I got the first out and then the next inning they told me, ‘You’re in the game,’ I kept fighting,” Hernandez said. “I’m grateful, thankful, proud, everything that I kept the game really close so the guys can come back and walk it off in the ninth.”

It helps that the Rangers are winning games with their young players contributing. It won’t always be like that. It might be like that beginning Thursday as the Rangers open a four-game series at the Chicago White Sox, another young team.

The early successes Allard, Solak, Burke and Hernandez are having will give them confidence and belief that what the Rangers are telling them to do works.

“We’ve got a lot of life, there’s a ton of energy in that clubhouse, and we’re winning,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I don’t care how young you are. I don’t care how old you are, for that matter. We want to win. We want every game. We want to teach these guys from the second they step into this clubhouse that we’re going to come every day with the intent to win.”

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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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