Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Rangers reax: Club perseveres in 10
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas --The odds seemed much better for the Texas Rangers to win it in the ninth off reliever David Robertson than in the 10th off the best closer in baseball.
But after losing two leads and being unable to manufacture a run in the bottom of the ninth, David Murphy and friends found a way to get the job done against the New York Yankees and closer Mariano Rivera. Murphy, in the midst of a remarkable run over the past week or so, provided Texas a 4-3 win in 10 with a one-out, bases-loaded single to right field, lifting 46,121 at Rangers Ballpark to their feet.
How the Rangers (65-47) pulled it off against the game's most dominating closer, the American League's all-time save king and a man who had allowed just one run over his last 27 2/3 innings is another example of why the Rangers are 18 games over .500 and continue to prove to themselves that they are legitimate contenders.
"Just a great way to start the homestand, great way to make a statement that we can play with anybody and that we belong," said Murphy, who was 2-for-3 Tuesday, including a two-run homer in the sixth, plus two walks. "What we've done this year is not a fluke."
Alex Rodriguez tied the score at 3-3 with a monster home run to dead center off Frank Francisco to start the eighth inning.
The Rangers then were frustrated when they couldn't score in the ninth against Robertson, stranding Murphy at third, knowing Rivera would take the hill next.
Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero were due up against Rivera, a fearsome threesome to be sure, but a trio that had collectively slumped on the 4-5 road swing and had done little in this one.
Yet, Young managed to leg out an infield single that drew Derek Jeter too far into the hole for his throw to nip Young.
"I knew it was going to be bang-bang, but also I knew I had a good chance to beat it out," Young said. 'When Derek had to kind of go to his backhand side, I knew I had a shot to beat it out."
Then Hamiton, just 7 of his last 30 and hitless on the night before coming to the plate in the 10th, found space on the right side and poked Rivera's offering into the outfield to put runners at first and second for Guerrero.
"Obviously, Josh and I didn't hit rockets by any stretch of the imagination," Young said. "We both got jammed and were just fortunate to find some holes."
With his average now below .300, Guerrero had a potential game-winning hit taken away on a brilliant stab by Rodriguez, who had no choice but to throw to first, advancing the runners to second and third. The Yankees opted to walk the right-hand hitting Nelson Cruz -- just Rivera's seventh walk of the season -- to load the bases for the Rangers' hottest hitter of late, the lefty-swinging Murphy.
Murphy, who gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers and walked twice, took Rivera to three balls and no strikes.
"The guy's got six walks all year. He knows how to throw strikes," Murphy said. "I didn't expect him to walk me."
The count went to 3-1.
"At 3-1, I was expecting a cutter in. He threw a cutter away," said Murphy, who fouled it off to take the count full. "And then I didn't know exactly what to look for 3-2, but I knew he couldn't throw a ball, so I think it was safe to look middle-in there, and that's where he threw it."
Murphy, as locked in as anyone on the club, stabbed it into right field for the walk-off win, snapping a two-game losing skid and setting up Cliff Lee to start Wednesday's finale to the quick, two-game set with the defending champs.
"It's a big win, it's a huge win. We certainly need it," manager Ron Washington said. "They're the best and we came out and put our best foot forward and we got the win."