Four pitches in 7th inning key Rangers
August, 28, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The seventh-inning stretch came and went and Angels starter Jered Weaver took some long strides to the mound. At 101 pitches in temperatures at right around the same number, the Angels ace was trying to preserve a 5-4 lead and get through one more inning. Did the Rangers sense it was time to get to him late?
"We kind of sensed that a little earlier, but he kept throwing good pitches," Kinsler said. "He's one of the best pitchers in the game, so it's not easy. But we were able to break through there in the seventh. They sent him back out there and I'm sure he wanted the ball. We were able to get to him and quickly, which was nice. They didn't really have time to get the 'pen loose and get the 'pen ready."
Kinsler wasn't kidding when he said quickly. It took four pitches for the Rangers to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.
Texas hitters went up to the plate looking for a pitch to hit and got one. It started with David Murphy, who stroked a double down the first base line. The ball got caught up in one of the stools where a security guard and ballgirl sit, but Murphy would have been at second anyway. With a runner in scoring position and the Rangers down by a run, manager Ron Washington decided not to try to move the runner over by asking Kinsler to bunt.
"Wash rarely gives me the bunt in that situation," Kinsler said. "He lets me try to hit the ball the other way. That's what I was trying to do. I was trying to move the guy over and possibly get a base hit and I was lucky enough to find a hole."
That single tied the score. Elvis Andrus followed with a bunt down the first-base line that somehow stayed inside the chalk. So with runners at first and second and no outs, Weaver was gone. Scott Downs came into the game to face Josh Hamilton. The 2010 MVP looked like an MVP on Sunday and stroked a ground-ball single through the hole between first and second to bring home Kinsler. Four pitches, four hits, two runs and a Rangers lead.
"I was sitting on a curve ball but I wanted to be able to react if he threw me a two-seamer, and that's what he did," Hamilton said.
But the Rangers weren't through. Downs intentionally walked Michael Young and exited, leaving Bobby Cassevah on the mound to face Craig Gentry, who was in the game for the injured Nelson Cruz. Washington, who made all the right calls Sunday, pulled Genty back and put Endy Chavez in the box with the bases loaded.
"I just wanted to put a ball in play and do what I could to get a run home," Chavez said. "Somehow it got through."
The bouncing ball up the middle went between Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar, scoring Andrus and Hamilton and giving the Rangers an 8-5 lead. They eventually won 9-5.
"It was a whole team effort," Kinsler said. "Everyone contributed. Colby did a good job in this heat and staying with it and we delivered the hits and played defense. That seventh inning was big."
The win puts the Rangers three games up in the AL West, preventing the Angels from hitting their rear bumper.
"Anytime you can gain games in a series where you're playing the team right behind you, it's important," Kinsler said. "That's what we were able to do, and we're happy with it."