Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Tigers 1
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers won a thrilling, walk-off 2-1 game Saturday over the Detroit Tigers as Mike Olt ended a great at-bat against left-handed reliever Phil Coke with the winning hit.
What it means: The Rangers stay 5 1/2 games ahead of the Oakland A's with the victory and even this three-game series at 1-1.
Walk-off win: Detroit reliever Brayan Villarreal helped put the "walk" in walk off, issuing two free passes to start the inning on eight straight balls. ... Coke then came in with two on and no outs and got pinch-hitter Craig Gentry to pop out and struck out Geovany Soto. ... But with two outs and runners at first and second, rookie Olt hit a single to left to score Nelson Cruz with the winning run.
Great at-bat: Olt, pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland, fell behind 1-2 and then fouled off four pitches and took a ball to get a 2-2 count. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Olt sent it through the hole between third and short to win the game. He was mobbed by his teammates between the mound and first base in a wild, power blue celebration.
Leadoff homer: Austin Jackson began the game with a home run to left field on a 1-2 84 mph slider from Derek Holland to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. It was the 10th home run allowed by Holland in his last five starts.
Settling in: Holland gave up a single to Omar Infante right after the home run and then really got going. He struck out Miguel Cabrera, got Prince Fielder to ground out to first and struck out Delmon Young to end the inning with no further damage. ... Perhaps the way that inning ended for Holland fired him up. He was pumping strikes and attacking the Tigers hitters and got into a good rhythm as a result. He ended up retiring 22 of the 24 he faced after those first two batters, allowing just one hit in the process.
Strikeouts: Holland tied his season-high with nine strikeouts. He struck out all but two of the starters for the Tigers (Infante and Fielder) and got Young and Jeff Baker twice. The last time Holland had nine strikeouts was May 25 vs. Toronto. His career high is 10, last set on June 9, 2011, at Minnesota.
Shutting down the middle: Holland held the Nos. 3-5 hitters -- Cabrera, Fielder and Young -- to an 0-for-8 mark with a walk and three strikeouts.
Staying power: Holland's 7 2/3 innings of work tied his season high, last done on July 25 vs. Boston. His final line: 7 2/3 IP, 3H, 1R, 1BB, 9K. ... Manager Ron Washington took Holland out with no one on and two outs in the eighth and Gerald Laird at the plate. The skipper talked to Holland for a while on the mound and then made the switch. ... Holland matched Justin Verlander in one of his best outings of the season.
Bullpen survives: Alexi Ogando started the ninth inning and got Infante to ground out and walked Cabrera. Washington then brought in left-hander Robbie Ross to face left-handed batter Fielder, and despite getting ahead in the count 0-2, Ross ended up walking him. After Ross threw a ball to Young, Washington came out and brought in Mike Adams, who gave up a single to load the bases with one out. ... Adams then got pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch to ground out to first, where Moreland alertly threw home to get the force. Adams then got Jhonny Peralta to fly out to center.
Cruz delivers: Cruz was just 1-for-13 in the regular season off Verlander before hitting a two-out single in the third inning with two on to tie the score as Josh Hamilton scored. Cruz, of course, hit a memorable home run off Verlander in Game 5 of the ALCS last year, Cruz's fifth homer of the series to set a new playoff series record. He hit it off a 100 mph fastball. ... Cruz didn't have those kinds of theatrics on Saturday, but the single was enough to drive in the run.
Nos. 3-4: Hamilton and Adrian Beltre managed to both get on base in the first and third innings off Verlander. Both times they got on with two outs and it turned into one run in the third on Cruz's hit. ... Hamilton advanced on an error in the first (on Cabrera) and singled in the third. Beltre singled in the first and third.
Up next: RHP Yu Darvish (11-8, 4.57 ERA) takes on RHP Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.65 ERA) at 2:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.