Little did they know they would be up late again, this time trying to dispatch the lowly Detroit Tigers.
Rodriguez’s two-run homer in the 16th inning gave the Rangers a 4-2 victory over the Tigers on Monday night, extending Texas’ winning streak to six games.
“Obviously, after getting in at 4:30, this is a big win,” Rodriguez said. “I thought the story of the night was our bullpen—they were fantastic and gave us the opportunity to win.”
Detroit, which played in Anaheim on Sunday, has lost six in a row and 10 of 11 to drop a season-worst 61 games under .500 at 31-92.
“I’m drained,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “This one is tough.”
Hank Blalock led off the 16th with a single and Rodriguez followed with a homer over the scoreboard in right-center, his 34th of the year.
“That might be the first time I’ve seen a right-handed batter hit a ball out there,” Trammell said. “But he is a very special player, and they do things like that.”
Rodriguez was 0-for-6 before the home run.
“That was just huge,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “He was having a rough night, but he just kept grinding it out and he finally got it done. That was just a great baseball game—especially when you come out on top.”
Ron Mahay (2-0) got the win, striking out seven batters in three scoreless innings of relief. R.A. Dickey, Tuesday’s scheduled starter, worked the 16th for his first career save. Dickey will now start on Wednesday, with John Thomson moving up to Tuesday.
Steve Sparks (0-6) took the loss.
It was Texas’ longest game since an 18-inning win over Boston on Aug. 25, 2001. Detroit lost to the New York Yankees in 17 innings June 1.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” Halter said. “We actually had a lot of chances tonight, and we didn’t score on any of them. That’s what cost us the game.”
The Rangers got a runner to third with one out in the 10th, but Michael Young grounded weakly to short and pinch-hitter Hank Blalock struck out.
Detroit’s Nate Robertson got a no-decision in his first major league appearance of the season. Making just the second start of his career, he gave up two runs on eight hits in 8 1-3 innings.
“That was pretty impressive for a guy practically making his major league debut,” Trammell said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better than that.”
Ismael Valdes started for Texas, giving up one run on three hits in 6 1-3 innings before leaving the game with leg cramps. He will be examined on Tuesday, but the injury is not considered serious.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the third on Brandon Inge’s fifth homer. Inge has hit in all 11 games since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo on August 6.
Robertson pitched out of a jam in the third, getting Donnie Sadler to hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and Rodriguez on deck.
Robertson didn’t have as much luck in the fourth, however. With one out, Rafael Palmeiro singled and Spencer followed with a long homer to left.
The Tigers put runners on the corners in the fourth, but Halter grounded out to end the threat.
Valdes retired the first batter of the seventh, but then had to leave the game with his injury while pitching to Halter. Aaron Fultz allowed Halter’s single and Inge’s double, and pinch-hitter Craig Monroe was intentionally walked, loading the bases with one out.
Bobby Higginson and bench coach Kirk Gibson found out before the game that they had been suspended for an Aug. 10 incident that saw them both ejected in the first inning of a loss to Minnesota. Higginson, who was fined $2,000, is appealing his two-game suspension, but Gibson served his one-game sentence on Monday. Gibson was also fined an undisclosed amount. … Monday was Higginson’s 33rd birthday. He went 0-for-7. … Valdes had been activated from the disabled list before the game after being out since July 24 with left knee tendinitis. … Robertson’s only previous start came on Sept. 7 of last season with Florida. … Mark Teixeira struck out five times.