On a night when things were once again looking bad for the Texas Rangers, they began to fight and kept fighting until they had the victory. Yu Darvish was once again a mystery to all as he cruised through the first two innings, but then gave up six runs in the third inning. He would give up another run in the fourth and would be done after five innings, giving up seven runs on four hits and six walks. Once again Darvish did not have command, being the cause for the six walks and three extra-base hits.
He almost single handedly took the game out of the Rangers hands, but virtually everyone else kept them in it all night long. Alexi Ogando looked the best he has since returning from the disabled list, working a scoreless sixth inning and was then followed by 1 2/3 of scoreless work from Robbie Ross and 1 1/3 scoreless from Tanner Scheppers. The bullpen took the ball, ran with it and did not allow the Angels to build their lead as the Rangers offense was rolling.
Every starter had a hit in this game with the exception of Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland each having multi-hit games. The offense fought back all night long and then Ian Kinsler hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Joe Nathan came on for the tenth inning, but struggled allowing three runs including a solo homer to Chris Iannetta and a two-run shot to Albert Pujols which put the Rangers back down heading to the bottom of the ninth inning. It was a disappointing turn of events considering the battle that had taken place all night, but the Rangers had continued to battle and everything suggested they would continue to do so in the bottom of the tenth.
In the bottom of the tenth, Nelson Cruz connected for a 449 blast to move the Rangers within two runs and then Michael Young reached first on a fielding error. The momentum was still there after the Young walk and then David Murphy also walked paving the way for Mike Napoli who singled. Mitch Moreland singled to bring the Rangers within a run which allowed Ian Kinsler to come to the plate with the bases loaded and the winning run at second. Kinsler popped up, but that was followed by a Elvis Andrus' double to give the Rangers the walk off victory and move their lead in the American League West back to four games.
This was the one the Rangers needed. It was the one that can build momentum and should build momentum. It was a hard fought victory with multiple comebacks and ended with a battle against their divisional rival. The Rangers still have to put together a consistent stretch of good baseball, but this can be the start.
Now Ryan Dempster will make his first start in a Rangers' uniform on Thursday with the Rangers looking to even the series. The Rangers also purchased the contract of Mike Olt from Double-A Frisco at the conclusion of the game and he will be in uniform on Thursday night.
Olt is regarded as the #2 prospect in the Rangers system and one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He was desired by many clubs heading up to the trade deadline, but time after time Jon Daniels refused to include him in any deals, considering him to be a key piece of the Rangers' future. While he is blocked at third base by Adrian Beltre, the Rangers will be getting him playing time. He is not in Arlington to sit and they will get him work at first base and DH as well as the occasional day at third. He has spent some time in the outfield during the second half, but his time there has been very limited and it would seem that he is least likely to play there this season. The Rangers were unable to get an impact bat before the trade deadline, but Olt could be just that. There was not a solid right-handed bat off of the bench in 2011, but Olt had 28 home runs with Frisco so far this season and could give Ron Washington exactly what he needs.
With the acquisition of Dempster, the walk off against the Angels and the arrival of Olt, Rangers' baseball is back with that magical feeling. All the pieces are there, it is just a matter of putting it all together once again.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckleball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.