Bobby Wilson breaks down grand slam that lifted Rangers
Bobby Wilson was one of two Texas Rangers hitters to collect a hit Sunday against Justin Verlander, who had trouble with his former catcher and shortstop Elvis Andrus but no one else over seven innings.
But the Rangers did enough against the former Cy Young winner and MVP to make him pile up 111 pitches, too many for him to continue for another inning.
Then, the Rangers’ offense really went to work.
They scored seven runs in the eighth inning, an outburst that included Wilson’s first career grand slam and a solo shot by Delino DeShields for unlikely back-to-back homers en route to an 8-3 victory and a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
The Rangers also left Comerica Park with an unlikely 4-3 record on their road trip after losing three of four games at Toronto. Wilson contributed in two of the three wins over the team that had traded him only Tuesday, but no contribution in the series was as big as his one swing Sunday.
I was pumped. I was really excited. To do it in that situation, against the team that just traded you, it felt really, really good.
Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson
“It’s about winning ballgames,” Wilson said. “The pitch ... had to be a little elevated, and I put a good swing on it. ... I was pumped. I was really excited. To do it in that situation, against the team that just traded you, it felt really, really good.”
Martin Perez walked away with a quality start, allowing two runs in six innings despite laboring in a 37-pitch third inning. The left-hander quickly got the first two outs of the frame, but needed 30 pitches to get the last out and in between issued three of his five walks and the two runs against him.
But he accomplished the No. 1 goal of all starting pitchers. He kept his team in the game and gave the offense a chance to break through.
Did it ever.
Verlander’s seven scoreless innings included an escape act in the third after Andrus and Wilson opened with singles to put runners and first and third with no outs. Verlander, though, struck out DeShields and Rougned Odor, and Nomar Mazara flied harmlessly to right field.
Verlander, though, was replaced by left-hander Justin Wilson to start the eighth, and Odor and Mazara, left-handed hitters, collected singles to put runners at first and third.
Right-hander Mark Lowe entered, and Adrian Beltre ripped the first pitch for an RBI single. After Prince Fielder bounced out, Ian Desmond lifted a sacrifice fly and pinch runner Drew Stubbs slid home just ahead of the throw to tie the game.
Two were out, but Lowe intentionally walked Mitch Moreland and plunked Andrus ahead of Wilson, who dropped a slider over the left-field wall.
8 Home runs hit by the Rangers in their three-game sweep over Detroit
“I hadn’t hit one [a slider] the whole series,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of numbers and seeing Mark, I knew kind of what he was going to do there.”
DeShields followed with another homer, giving the Rangers back-to-back shots in consecutive games. He and Wilson combined for three homers last season. Manager Jeff Banister said that DeShields’ homer was a key blow that helped them stay away from closer Shawn Tolleson another day.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” DeShields said. “It went over the fence, barely, but I’ll take it.”
The Tigers made it interesting in the eighth against Sam Dyson, who escaped with a scoreless inning after getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia to ground out with the bases loaded and two outs.
But Perez was the pitching story for the Rangers. The Tigers scored in only one of his six innings, tallying two runs in the third after he had quickly gotten the first two outs on seven pitches.
The grand slam by Bobby Wilson was the first for the Rangers since Rougned Odor hit one Aug. 27, 2014. The Rangers were the only team in the majors in 2015 to not have a grand slam.
He needed 30 more to get the third out, a stretch that included three walks and a few calls that went against him.
“That’s part of the game,” Perez said. “I put that inning behind me and went into the fourth inning keeping the game close. That’s what you have to do.”
Ultimately, though, he did what all starting pitchers strive to do by giving his team a chance to win and the offense a chance to break through.
Did it ever, and the end result was three-game sweep and a winning trip.
“It’s good, man,” said Andrus, who had two hits against Verlander. “We were looking to play better ball. We’re playing really good baseball at home, and for us to be able to sweep a team like Detroit is pretty big for us.”
Rangers vs. White Sox
7:05 p.m. Monday, FSSW
Rangers vs. White Sox
7:05 p.m. Monday, FSSW
Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM, ESPN/1540 AM (Spanish)
Rangers RHP Colby Lewis (2-0, 3.32 ERA) vs. White Sox RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-0, 8.44)