It’s been more than two weeks since the Texas Rangers won back-to-back games. With only a slim chance to reach the postseason, they know they can’t afford to keep alternating decisions.
Texas looks to win its fifth straight at home over the Tampa Bay Rays when the teams continue a three-game series Saturday night.
The Rangers (84-69) have traded wins and losses in their last eight games, beginning with a 2-0 loss to the Angels on Sept. 18. They beat Tampa Bay (78-75) 8-3 on Friday night behind Ian Kinsler’s(notes) 30th homer and Marlon Byrd’s(notes) two RBIs.
Kinsler, whose three-run homer in the eighth gave the Rangers a cushion after Tampa Bay pulled within two, became the third second baseman in major league history to have 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.
“I said in spring training that I felt if I could go 30-30, I could help the team significantly,” Kinsler said. “Obviously we’re struggling to get into the playoffs, but we’ve had a real good year to this point. I think the 30 steals and 30 homers helped us win some games.”
Kinsler entered just 1 for 23 against Tampa Bay this season, going hitless in 12 at-bats against the Rays in Arlington. Despite Kinsler’s struggles, the Rangers have won five of seven, including all four in Arlington by a combined 28-10 score.
Following Friday’s win, Texas will try to end the pattern of alternating decisions Saturday after making up some ground with its latest victory. The Rangers pulled within 7 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Red Sox, who lost to the Yankees, and six games of Los Angeles, which fell to Oakland. Texas and the Angels play four games at Anaheim starting Monday.
“We’re just trying to win as many as we can and see where we’re at,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I loved our effort.”
Millwood gave up one unearned run in seven innings of a 10-3 win over Oakland on Monday. The right-hander needed to pitch 4 1-3 innings to reach 180 for the season and have the option on the final season of his contract - worth $12 million - kick in.
“I’m glad I was able to finally go out there and give the team a chance to win,” Millwood said. “I knew what I had to get but I wanted to go deep in the ballgame.”
Millwood is 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA against the Rays, whom he hasn’t faced this season.
Garza ended a personal nine-game winless streak in his last start, giving up three hits while striking out 10 over 7 1-3 innings of a 4-0 win over Toronto last Saturday. The right-hander, who walked a season-high six, hadn’t recorded a victory since July 24 against the Blue Jays. His last three wins are against Toronto.
Garza is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in six starts against Texas, but 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts this year.
“He hadn’t seen a live arm in a while so I expected (him to struggle),” Washington said. “He’ll pull it back together.”