The eighth inning Tuesday night trumped all others for the Texas Rangers, though there were plays along the way that all were a key part in their fourth straight victory.
There was no shortage of good, either. Bryan Holaday launched an early two-run homer to continue the catchers’ hot hitting. Colby Lewis tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 5-0 for the first time in his career. Elvis Andrus made a diving stop in the sixth to keep Cleveland from mounting a rally.
The Rangers, though, were up only a run after Cleveland had scored twice in the seventh before responding with a three-run eighth that took the air out of the Indians and Progressive Field en route to a 7-3 win.
Ian Desmond delivered yet again with a two-run double for a 5-2 lead after Holaday and Jurickson Profar opened with singles.
“There’s not really much to that,” Desmond said. “I’m just trying to not strike out.”
But Desmond, the Rangers’ hottest hitter, was floored by what happened next with the team’s coldest hitter, Prince Fielder. The struggling slugger hit a grounder to second base, but the productive out left the biggest impression on the player who had the big hit in the game’s biggest spot.
That’s what’s going to allow us to be the team we want to be, selfless stuff like that. That’s what I’m most excited about from that game.
Center fielder Ian Desmond
“For me the bigger takeaway is what Prince did,” said Desmond, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. “It won’t get talked about unless I say it, so I’m going to say it.
“A three-run lead against an offense like that, a runner on second and you’ve got Prince up there, who would like a hit and an opportunity to drive the ball. But selflessly, he moves the runner over. There was 100 percent intent there. It wasn’t an accident that he did it.”
Desmond was the runner at second, and he went to third on Fielder’s grounder. Adrian Beltre was next, and his 572nd career double, good for a tie for 24th all time with Ivan Rodriguez, drove home Desmond for a 6-2 lead.
The difference between a three-run lead and a four-run lead is bigger than it seems, and Desmond credited Fielder for it.
“I told Prince in the dugout, ‘Man, I’ve got a lot of respect for you for that,’ ” Desmond said. “That was huge.”
Fielder went 0 for 4 as his average sank to .194. But the Rangers’ offense has been bolstered by their catchers, who have the highest batting average (.287) in the American League at the position and have driven in 30 runs.
572 Career doubles for Adrian Beltre, good for a tie for 24th all time with Ivan Rodriguez
Holaday carried the torch Tuesday, starting for the third straight game as Bobby Wilson caught up on some rest. Holaday’s second homer of the season came in the second on the first pitch after Jared Hoying led off with a single off former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.
“I didn’t want to mess around and see what else he could throw me because he was pretty good out there,” Holaday said. “I was just looking for a pitch in the zone I could handle and put the barrel on it, and it worked out.”
Holaday, though, said that he and Wilson have one main task, working the pitchers through their innings. Holaday has done that of late as the Rangers have won eight of his past nine starts.
“Anything offensively is a bonus,” Holaday said.
Profar homered with two outs in the fifth for a 3-0 lead that Lewis took into the sixth, when he walked Carlos Santana with one out. Santana broke to second on a 3-2 sinker to Jason Kipnis, who hit a grounder toward Andrus as he went to cover the bag for a potential throw from Holaday.
Andrus stopped, dived back to his right to snare the ball, and threw to first for the second out. Rather than having runners at first and third with one out, the Indians’ rally would fizzle two batters later as Lewis got Mike Napoli to bounce out.
Colby Lewis entered Tuesday with an 8.44 ERA in his previous seven starts against Cleveland but allowed only two hits and two walks in six scoreless innings. He has nine quality starts in 11 outings this season.
“It was a huge play,” said Lewis, who allowed only two hits. “There’s not really much more to elaborate on.”
The Indians rallied after Lewis exited to start the seventh. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer off Tony Barnette, who then walked the .175-hitting Yan Gomes. But Barnette got Rajai Davis to bounce into an inning-ending double play to keep the Rangers out front.
Holaday and Profar singled as Kluber worked into the eighth, and Desmond followed with a one-hopper off the right-field wall.
But of all that went down Tuesday night, including his double, Desmond was most impressed by the Fielder grounder that followed.
“That’s what’s going to allow us to be the team we want to be, selfless stuff like that,” Desmond said. “That’s what I’m most excited about from that game.”
Rangers vs. Indians
5:10 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW
Rangers vs. Indians
5:10 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM; ESPN/1540 AM (Spanish)
Rangers LHP Cole Hamels (5-1, 3.34 ERA) vs. Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.34)