Texas Rangers: Casey Kotchman
Texas Rangers reliever Koji Uehara allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth on a Casey Kotchman home run before closer Joe Nathan came in and shut the door on the Cleveland Indians for a 5-3 Rangers' win.
Since the trade: Ryan Dempster made his sixth start with the Rangers since being traded from the Chicago Cubs. He kept the Indians hitless for 3.2 innings. Dempster pitched six innings of two-hit ball, allowing one unearned run with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Stolen away: Ian Kinsler stole second base in the first inning. It’s his first stolen base since August 8.
Running home: One batter after stealing that base, Kinsler scored his 91st run of the season on Adrian Beltre’s RBI single. Kinsler is second in the American League in runs scored.
Walk this way: Josh Hamilton saw 15 pitches in his first two plate appearances. He preceded Beltre’s 82nd RBI with a seven-pitch first-inning walk. Hamilton looked at eight pitches for a one-out walk in the third. He later scored on Michael Young’s infield RBI single.
RISP reward: David Murphy entered Friday’s game batting .389 (28-for-72) with runners in scoring position and 39 RBIs. He drove in the Rangers' third run with a third inning single hit the opposite way to left field.
Extra outs: Shortstop Elvis Andrus was charged with two errors in the fourth inning. He has 15 errors this season. The first was a throwing error on what could have been a double play, but his throw was wild of Dempster covering first base and the ball went out of play. That baserunner wound up scoring on Carlos Santana’s RBI single for a 3-1 Rangers' lead. Elvis mishandled a grounder off the bat of the next batter, Kotchman. This is the first multi-error game for Andrus in his career. Young in 2007 was the last Rangers shortstop to have a two-error game.
More RISP and reward: Kinsler hit his 36th double of the season with two outs in the sixth inning. Murphy had tripled to begin the inning. That Kinsler hit ended a stretch where the Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Rangers went up 4-1, and that was the end of the night for Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
Frustration: Nelson Cruz was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. When Esmil Rogers struck him out in the seventh inning, Cruz hammered the barrel of his bat to the ground, and home plate umpire Bill Welke promptly ejected Cruz. The ejection resulted in Hamilton moving from center field to right, and Craig Gentry entered the game to play center.
Four for Friday: For the second consecutive Friday, Beltre had a four-hit game. Those are his only four-hit games of the season. Beltre was 4-for-5 against the Indians with two singles, two doubles and two runs scored. He also drove in one run.
Streaking: Andrus had a single in the ninth inning that extended his hitting streak to 27 games versus the Indians. He tied Ivan Rodriguez for the longest hitting streak by a Ranger against a single opponent. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 27-game streak for Andrus is the first career-opening hit streak against one opponent since Vladimir Guerrero hit in his first 44 games against the Rangers.
The last time: Prior to tonight’s start, Dempster last faced the Indians in 2006.
Road trip: The Rangers have begun a 10-game road trip which features three at Cleveland, four at Kansas City and three at Tampa Bay.
On deck: The Rangers meet the Indians for the second game of this three-game series at 6:05 p.m. Saturday. RHP Scott Feldman (6-10, 4.95) and RHP Roberto Hernandez (0-3, 7.53) are the starting pitchers. Hernandez is the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Rangers Insider begins on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM at 5 p.m., and Rangers Baseball Tonight is at 5:30 on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network.
Moreland helped the Rangers advance to the ALCS for the second consecutive season with a couple of nifty plays in the sixth inning, while the Rangers clung to a 3-2 lead.
If you want to see how much the Rangers have evolved over the years, consider Moreland started the last two games at first base. Moreland is not nearly as good an offensive player as Young or Napoli, but he's clearly the better defensive first baseman.
He proved it in the sixth inning.
First, he ranged to his right to snag a roller by Johnny Damon, who was leading off the inning. Then he realized Derek Holland wasn't going to beat Damon to the bag because he landed on the third base side of the mound after his delivery and he stumbled running to first base.
Moreland dove headfirst and touched the bag with his glove just before Damon, sliding headfirst, got to the bag to record the first out of the inning.
With two outs in the sixth, Moreland made another nice play, scooping up Casey Kotchman's roller to his right. This time, he flipped the ball to Holland for the out.
It's not always about offense. These Rangers understand that.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Rangers can clinch the ALDS with a win today at Tropicana Field. Two youngsters take the mound in Matt Harrison, 26, and Jeremy Hellickson, 24. Here are the lineups:
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Michael Young
3B Adrian Beltre
C Mike Napoli
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
1B Mitch Moreland
LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
3B Evan Longoria
2B Ben Zobrist
DH Johnny Damon
C Kelly Shoppach
SS Sean Rodriguez
1B Casey Kotchman
RF Matt Joyce
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.