The Texas Rangers are finding different ways to win games even on those days when they have no business winning.
Saturday at Busch Stadium was another prime example. The Rangers rallied for a 4-3 win with two runs in the eighth and two runs in the ninth to stun the St. Louis Cardinals and 44,375 in attendance.
It wasn’t just that the Rangers came back from a 3-0 deficit to hand the Cardinals their first loss in 34 games when taking a lead into the ninth. Or the fact that the Rangers were 1-19 in games they trailed entering the ninth inning.
It was how the Rangers scored their four runs that adds another level to the club’s current magic.
The win gives Texas its ninth consecutive series win, the longest such streak in franchise history. The Rangers have won 12 of their 13 series and are 13-4 in June.
“It’s something to talk about, something to write about,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “In my mind it’s June. As cliché as it is, really, believe me, it’s one game. I don’t think they’re going to give away any badges that say this is the most series wins in the history of the franchise and we’re going to wear them around.”
No, but championship teams often put together runs similar to the kind the Rangers are on.
Lately, it seems they can win any type of game, low-scoring, high-scoring, with defense, with pitching or with a bunch of home runs.
Saturday they manufactured a win.
With two outs in the eighth, Shin-Soo Choo singled and moved to third on Ian Desmond’s double. Choo scored on a wild pitch from reliever Seung Hwan Oh and Desmond scored on Nomar Mazara’s dribbler to first base that Matt Adams, literally, booted with his foot after muffing the pick up.
In the ninth, Rougned Odor led off by beating out Adams’ throw to pitcher Trevor Rosenthal covering first. Jurickson Profar followed with a single to left. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball before Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After pinch hitter Ryan Rua struck out against Kevin Siegrist, Choo worked an eight-pitch walk to drive in Odor with the tying run. The next batter, Desmond, scored Profar with the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly lined out to left.
“It’s not how you draw it up, but these guys find a way,” Banister said of his club’s 21 comeback wins. “They’ve built an equity of trusting themselves, trusting the approach at the plate. We had some heads-up baserunning late and a tremendous at-bat by Choo to get the walk there. They believe in each other.”
The Rangers were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and did little against Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez, who held Texas to four hits and a walk in seven innings. The Rangers had the bases loaded in the first before Martinez escaped by getting Prince Fielder to ground into an inning-ending double play. For the next six innings, Martinez cruised. Nick Martinez, making his first start this season for the Rangers, allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. Desmond threw out Kolton Wong at home trying to tag up on a sacrifice fly to end the fifth to keep the score locked at 3-0. Chirinos made a nice stop and tag on the throw.
“That ball was running up the line pretty good. Chirinos did a great job staying with it. He stuck his nose in there and hooked me up pretty big there. That one goes to him for sure,” Desmond said.
Cesar Ramos, who replaced Martinez, combined with Shawn Tolleson and Jake Diekman for 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Combined they allowed one hit and a walk and struck out five. Tolleson earned his first win and Diekman earned his second save with a perfect ninth while giving a day off to closer Sam Dyson, who had pitched in five of the past seven.
“That was a good one,” said Desmond, who helped the Rangers improve to 15-4 in one-run games. “You win one-run games by, pretty much, good character, a bunch of guys pulling for each other and this team is not short on that. We’ve proven it to ourselves a couple of times this year and I’m sure there will be more to come.”
The Rangers are 7-2 on their current road trip, which concludes Sunday against the Cardinals. They’re in the middle of a 20-game stretch with no days off that finally ends Thursday. It was supposed to be a tough stretch that tested the limits of the club. So far, they’re 13-3.
“There’s definitely a confidence in this team. I know our offense battles at-bats the entire game. It doesn’t matter what the score is,” Tolleson said. “As a pitcher sitting down there watching, I always feel like we’re in the game.”