Delino DeShields thought the worst Monday afternoon as pain shot into his left knee. That’s why he didn’t move until he was helped up and off the field.
He seemed a tad embarrassed afterward as he stood in front of his locker, with no ice on his knee, no crutches to help him reach the team bus and no real sense of worry.
The rookie will be back sooner than later, or at least that was the initial indication after the Texas Rangers’ 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, a victory in which another rookie played a significant role.
Left-hander Andrew Faulkner got five key outs after replacing starter Yovani Gallardo, who tossed 5 1/3 innings, and Sam Dyson and Shawn Tolleson finished off the combined seven-hit shutout at Safeco Field.
It’s cool for me to face a guy like that [Robinson Cano]. I feel good they have confidence putting me in there.
Rangers pitcher Andrew Faulkner
DeShields played his part, too, walking and scoring the game’s first run in a two-run sixth inning and drawing a two-out walk on a seventh-inning wild pitch that popped just far enough from home for Rougned Odor to score from third.
Faulkner, pitching in only his third major league game and for the first time with a lead, was just as much of the story as DeShields in the winning clubhouse.
“They put me in a situation where they’d have me throwing against lefties,” said Faulkner, who entered to face All-Star Robinson Cano. “It’s cool for me to face a guy like that. I feel good they have confidence putting me in there.”
The win inched the Rangers back within two games of Houston in the American League West and allowed them to maintain a 1 1/2-game lead over Minnesota for the second wild card.
Faulkner entered after Gallardo allowed a leadoff single to Kyle Seager and struck out Mark Trumbo. Cano ripped a line drive but it was right at DeShields in center for the second out, and Faulkner struck out Seth Smith.
Faulkner was back for the seventh, getting the lefty-hitting Logan Morrison and Brad Miller for the first two outs before staying in to get right-handed hitter John Hicks.
Andrew Faulkner opened the season at Double A Frisco as a starting pitcher but was used exclusively as a reliever beginning July 10.
“He did a great job there coming in and getting those two guys out,” Gallardo said. “He’s got good stuff. He showed that tonight.”
Gallardo was only at 92 pitches when he exited, but manager Jeff Banister went to Faulkner with 11 pitchers in the bullpen. Gallardo got help in a messy first as catcher Bobby Wilson caught two runners stealing, and he pitched around a one-out triple in the fifth.
Gallardo (12-9) posted his ninth start of the season with at least five innings pitched and no runs allowed. That leads the American League.
“I felt good,” Gallardo said. “I was able to move the ball to both sides of the plate, which is important. I definitely got some help from Bobby back there. After that, I was able to get in a good rhythm.”
9 Starts for Yovani Gallardo in which he has pitched at least five innings allowed no runs, which leads the American League.
DeShields has been the biggest surprise for the Rangers this season and rates as one of the biggest surprises in the majors. He became an everyday player with his electric speed and ability to get on base.
He drew a walk in the sixth to jump-start the Rangers’ two-run inning, with both runs coming on a bases-loaded single by Adrian Beltre to break a scoreless tie.
The hit with runners in scoring position is what the Rangers have been missing of late.
“In the last 10 days or so, we haven’t been scoring the way we want to,” Beltre said. “Even though we haven’t been scoring the last couple games, we’ve been getting guys on base. You have to fight through it. That’s what we’re doing right now.”
DeShields left shortly after Odor scored on a wild pitch that was barely 10 feet from the plate. DeShields was trying to steal third when his left knee bent awkwardly beneath him as he slid into the bag.
He likely won’t play Tuesday but doesn’t expect to miss any significant time. The Rangers are eight games over .500 on the season but are 43-28 since May 22 in games with DeShields in the lineup. They went 8-11 in June and July when he was on the disabled list.
“It’s just a sprain,” he said. “I thought it was worse initially. Everything seemed like it was in place. It was tender and sore, so if my knee tells me yes or no, I’ll be ready to go.”