Byrd homered twice, including his sixth career grand slam in an 11-run fifth inning, and the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 15-3 on Saturday night.
The center fielder will be a free agent after the season ends. Washington said before the game that he hoped the team would re-sign Byrd, and Saturday’s performance only reinforced the manager’s opinion.
“I don’t think we can get anything better than what we have here,” Washington said.
Before thinking about the offseason, the Rangers still have a glimmer of hope in the playoff race.
Texas moved within six games of Boston for the AL wild card with eight to play. The Red Sox lost 3-0 to the New York Yankees earlier in the day.
The Rangers also began the day trailing first-place Los Angeles by six games in the AL West. The Angels hosted Oakland on Saturday night, looking to reduce their magic number of four for clinching the division title.
The victory assured the Rangers of not being eliminated in their final home game of the season Sunday.
“It’s great that we’re still playing for something,” Byrd said.
The Rangers scored all 11 runs in the fifth with two outs as 10 straight batters reached base.
“After getting the big hit, it seemed like everybody relaxed after that,” Byrd said. “That’s when we started stringing together some hits.”
They finished the fifth with nine hits, one short of a club record, and sent 16 batters to the plate.
“I got up and shook hands a lot,” Millwood joked about his team’s huge inning. “I’ll take that anytime.”
Garza, who gave up seven runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings, allowed just one run on Byrd’s solo homer through four innings.
The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth, but Garza looked as though he was going to get out of trouble as he retired the next two without a run scoring.
That’s when everything unraveled for Tampa Bay.
Byrd, who tied a career high with five RBIs, hit the first pitch he saw from Garza 423 feet to left, his first gland slam since a game-ending shot that beat the New York Yankees on Aug. 4, 2008.
Byrd has career highs with 19 home runs and 88 RBIs.
Garza allowed two more batters to reach before being replaced by Jeff Bennett(notes), who gave up five runs, five hits and two walks without retiring a batter. Josh Hamilton(notes) hit a three-run double to make it 12-3 and Byrd walked before Dale Thayer(notes) got the final out of the fifth, Texas’ largest inning since scoring 11 runs in the fifth on June 23, 1998, against Arizona.
“It just got out of control,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was very difficult to watch, almost unbelievable.”
The Rangers tied a season high with 19 hits.
Zaun’s homer in the fourth put Tampa Bay on top 3-0.
NOTES: Rangers 3B Michael Young(notes), who has missed 21 of 22 games with a strained left hamstring, ran the bases and took batting practice. He hopes to be back in the lineup for Texas’ season-ending road trip. “I’ll take another round of batting practice Sunday and see where I am Monday,” he said. … Garza struck out eight for Tampa Bay. … Davis matched a career high with four hits.