Rookie Mike Olt delivers walk-off hit
"I didn't know that was coming," Olt said. "It's great."
The 23-year-old infielder, called up on Aug. 1 to try to help spark a relatively stagnant offense, came in as a pinch hitter with two out and two on in the bottom of the ninth. With left-handed reliever Phil Coke on the mound, manager Ron Washington wanted to go with the right-handed bat instead of lefty Mitch Moreland. Olt saw nine pitches, hitting the final one through the hole between third and short to drive in Nelson Cruz for a 2-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 48,303, who roared with approval.
"The game was on the line right there, so we had Mike back there ready and he went up there and battled," Washington said. "For a young kid, he looked calm to me. He didn't look overwhelmed. He recognized that Coke was trying to get him out with breaking balls and he made an adjustment. He threw two of them for strikes, swung at one and missed, but then he sat there and battled and got a breaking ball and put it in play and found a hole. Tough ballgame and he won it."
Olt fell behind 1-2 on three curveballs and then just hung in. He fouled off four of the next five pitches (taking the other for a ball in the dirt to even the count) and figured he was going to see some more curves. In fact, seven of the nine pitches he faced, including the one he hit, were curves from Coke.
"I was just thinking that I'm going to try to get something middle-away and adjust to his off-speed," Olt said. "I saw his off-speed pretty well after the first couple and fought off some good fastballs and just tried to drive something up in the zone.
"I felt more comfortable in the box. I wasn't as antsy as I've been the last couple of games. I just let the situation dictate it. I've been getting settled in a little bit. I definitely had a little bit of jitters the first couple of games and now I'm just relaxing and playing."
Before Olt's dramatics, the Rangers put the first two batters on base on eight straight balls from reliever Brayan Villarreal. Washington put Craig Gentry in to pinch hit for David Murphy and bunt the runners over. But Gentry couldn't get the bunt down and popped up to shallow center with two strikes. Geovany Soto struck out, leaving Olt to try to get the hit with two outs. And he delivered.
"It was a really good game and that was a great way to top it off," Olt said.
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.