Rangers make it to Game 163

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
7:43
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- They did it, rallying past the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Seven must-win games. Done.

With no margin for error, just enough to get the Texas Rangers into Game 163 on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League wild-card tiebreak game.

Win that one and it's off to Cleveland for the wild-card game on Wednesday night against the Indians. Win that one and then it's on to Boston for the American League Divisional Series starting Friday against the Red Sox.

Basically, the Rangers need to come through in two more elimination games to keep on going in the postseason. They should have all the momentum in the world after doing it seven times, right?

[+] EnlargeRangers
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCatcher Geovany Soto, who drove in Sunday's go-ahead run, said he believes in momentum, and that the Rangers are "coming together more than ever" after seven straight wins to close the season.
"I believe in [momentum]," said catcher Geovany Soto, who drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. "I believe the team is coming together more than ever."

The Rangers found themselves in another grind-it-out kind of game on Sunday. They trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth after Yu Darvish allowed a home run to Mike Trout with two outs in the first inning.

Texas turned to a familiar hero this week -- Craig Gentry.

Gentry was inserted into the starting lineup in left field nine days ago and hasn't given up his spot. All he's done is hit and steal bases.

Gentry put the Rangers ahead for the first time Sunday with a two-run single with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Gentry had two more hits, making him 9-for-23 with seven runs and three RBIs in seven games.

That lead didn't hold up. Darvish struggled again trying to get a shutdown inning after his offense gave him a lead, even after getting a double-play ball after a leadoff single. Darvish allowed a single to J.B. Shuck and walked Trout on four pitches.

Manager Ron Washington had no patience. With Darvish at 84 pitches, he went to left-hander Neal Cotts out of the bullpen to face ex-Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.

"Hamilton was coming up there," Washington said. "I don't look at Hamilton's stats and what his year was. Hamilton's dangerous. I certainly didn't want to see [Darvish] make a mistake right there, so I brought in Cotts to make Hamilton as uncomfortable as he could."

Cotts got ahead 1-2 but Hamilton was able to line a single into right field to tie the game at two, making things tense in the ballpark because Tampa Bay had just beaten Toronto 7-6 to make this a must-win for the Rangers.

The Rangers answered in the bottom of the inning. Adrian Beltre started a two-out rally with a single. A.J. Pierzynski singled, too. And Soto, who, like Gentry, has been swinging a hot bat in September, lined a double into center field for a 3-2 lead that Texas never gave up.

"I was just trying to get a pitch to drive," Soto said.

That left finishing off the week's work to the bullpen, with nine more outs needed.

Robbie Ross got three of them, then Ian Kinsler had an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh for an insurance run.

Tanner Scheppers, pitching for the fourth straight day, had a nine-pitch eighth inning and got a double play and then a fly ball to right field by Trout.

The Rangers again added runs, as Beltre and Soto belted home runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 6-2 lead.

That left Washington with a decision -- throw his closer, Joe Nathan, for the fourth straight game, or give him a day off with the possible tiebreaker game on Monday looming.

Washington decided to make sure he got to Monday.

"I'm not playing around with that ballgame," Washington said. "I'm giving ourselves a chance to play in a championship series, so I'm not playing with that ballgame."

There wasn't a celebration for getting to Monday's game in the clubhouse after Sunday's game. The Rangers have been grinding all week. So they'll grind on.

"We shouldn't celebrate," said Beltre, who appeared to injure his left hamstring in the sixth inning but said he's fine for Monday. "We haven't done anything yet."

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.328 14 53 52
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 14
RBIA. Beltre 53
RA. Beltre 52
OPSA. Beltre .899
WY. Darvish 9
ERAY. Darvish 2.88
SOY. Darvish 154