Monday, October 21, 2013
Defining Dozen: Three straight walkoff wins
By Richard Durrett
Editor's Note: This is the first of a 12-part series titled "Defining Dozen," which looks at the 12 moments that impacted the 2013 season the most. We will count down from 12 to 1. The moments will include highs and lows for the Texas Rangers from a season that lasted until Game 163.
Leonys Martin hit one of the Rangers' three consecutive walk-off homers in July against the Angels.
The Rangers reached one of the season's defining moments in late July. They were scuffling a bit and preparing for word from MLB about the fate of Nelson Cruz when they arrived back in Arlington to face the Angels. After they lost 12 of the previous 15 games, the Rangers needed a spark. And they got that spark in dramatic fashion.
It started on Monday, July 29, with a run in the sixth inning to end a 26-inning scoreless drought for the offense. Three innings later, it was backup catcher Geovany Soto providing the heroics, blasting a game-winning solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri. Texas trailed 3-2 entering the inning, but A.J. Pierzynski tied it with a leadoff home run.
It was the club's first walk-off win of the season and they celebrated like it. But it was only the beginning. The next night went to extra innings as an offense that was starved for runs put up 14 in a win. Leonys Martin provided the winning hit, a clothes-line three-run home run in the 10th. Martin called it the biggest moment of his career. The win got Texas within five games of the A's. It was the first time in 32 days that they'd managed to gain any ground on Oakland.
The final game of the three-game set was just as dramatic. The Rangers and Angels went into the ninth tied at 1. Adrian Beltre changed off of that with a solo homer to win the game.
The Rangers swept the series from the Angels, winning all three games with walk-off homers. Martin Perez pitched very well in the victory as the Rangers created some momentum heading into August. It was the first time in club history that the Rangers won three straight games with walk-off homers.
"It's overwhelming really," manager Ron Washington said after the sweep. "We just kept battling, and you know when we're at our best, this is what you get. Not three walk-off home runs, but the different people getting it done. And that's what we need, is different people getting it done."
According to the Elias Sport Bureau, the Rangers were the first team to win three consecutive games with game-ending homers since Detroit in June 2004. The last to sweep a three-game series that way was Arizona over Montreal in May 1999.