It was a memorable finish to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on Sunday night and a few former Rangers factored majorly in the outcome.
With Boston down 5-1 with two outs in the eighth inning and the bases loaded, David Ortiz came to the plate. Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided not to go with the left-hander Phil Coke and put closer Joaquin Benoit in the game to get four outs. Benoit, who made his big league debut with Texas in 2001 and played parts of eight seasons for the Rangers, gave up a game-tying grand slam to Ortiz on the first pitch he threw him.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, traded to the Red Sox for prospects Chris McGuiness and Roman Mendez prior to the trade deadline in 2010, hit a single to left (after fouling off a ball that was not caught by Prince Fielder near the seats down the first-base line earlier in the at-bat) to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
When the Rangers acquired Saltalamacchia, he was the headliner of the Mark Teixeira deal with Atlanta. He was the name folks knew, at least. But the Rangers also got Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison (and Beau Jones) as part of that trade. Saltalamacchia never found his groove in Texas and, in fact, went through a period of the yips as a catcher before he was traded to Boston. (You can read my story about that from a few years ago here.)
I was glad to see Saltalamacchia come up with the big hit Sunday. He's worked hard and has overcome a lot to get where he's contributing on a contending team. And while Benoit gave up the pitch to Ortiz, he's established himself as the closer on a bullpen that has spent the entire season in flux.
It will be interesting to watch these two former Rangers in the ALCS as this series moves forward.