Commentary

Rangers offense comes alive in rally

Texas needs to build on momentum from amazing comeback win over Angels

Updated: August 2, 2012, 3:26 AM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was a feeling in the Texas Rangers' dugout prior to the 10th inning Wednesday night that hadn't been around for two months.

David Murphy could sense it.

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
Jim Cowsert/US PresswireNelson Cruz led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a towering home run to left-center field.

Before Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate, hoping to ignite yet another rally after his team fell behind by three runs in the top of the inning, Murphy knew something special was going to happen.

"When we're clicking and things are going well as an offense and there's that positive vibe about us, it doesn't matter what the deficit is," Murphy said. "It doesn't matter who's on the mound; we're going to battle until our last out. We always have that killer instinct in us. We feel like we're going to get the job done every single time. Tonight was one of those nights where it felt like a win was inevitable."

Murphy and his teammates hadn't felt that way in some time. But Wednesday's dramatic, 11-10 walk-off win over the Los Angeles Angels -- which ended with most of the team jumping up and down with Elvis Andrus near second base -- has the Rangers hoping they've finally grabbed some missing offensive mojo.

"It brings a lot of energy back," Andrus said. "We didn't give up the game. We battled out there. We didn't take anything for granted. We were fighting and grinding. When you desire for the game and you're that hungry to come back and be a winner, good things will happen."

It was a wild game that featured two big comebacks. Texas fell behind 6-0 after the top of the third and finally clawed all the way back on Ian Kinsler's solo homer in the bottom of the ninth. But closer Joe Nathan, extremely reliable this season, gave up home runs to Chris Iannetta and Albert Pujols in the 10th that had some fans heading to the exits at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, thinking the Rangers' once nine-game lead over the Angels had shrunk to two.

But down by three in the bottom half of the inning, the Rangers showed the resilience that has helped them win the American League the previous two seasons. They got a towering home run over the visiting bullpen in left-center from Cruz to start things off. Then they took advantage of a defensive miscue -- something the Rangers are very good at doing -- when Michael Young got on at first thanks to a bobbled ball by shortstop Andrew Romine.

Murphy then had one of the bigger at-bats of the inning. He fell behind 0-2 against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri but kept battling and ended up with an 11-pitch walk. Consecutive singles by Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland got the Rangers closer, and Andrus ended it with a hard-hit ball inside the bag at third and down the line to score the winning runs.

The Rangers poured out of the dugout to celebrate.

"There's been a stagnant, flat feeling in the dugout," Murphy said. "You can only talk it up so much and try to motivate guys verbally. Eventually, there's got to be some action and some execution."

Finally on Wednesday, there was. The win pushes the Rangers four games up in the AL West on the Angels and 4 1/2 ahead of the Oakland A's. Despite not playing anywhere close to what they believe is their best baseball, the Rangers have kept the Angels an arm's length from the division lead. Los Angeles is charging hard, and Texas hopes Wednesday's win is a sign the club can get things rolling again.

"It's a big win because of the nature of the win," said Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan, who watched it all unfold from his front-row seat in the owner's box. "It's been a while since we've had one like that. It was definitely a team effort. That's the exciting part.

"They've always been battlers. They've always had the history that when you think they're down and out, they come roaring back. Tonight's an example of that."

Ryan acknowledged that doing it against the Angels, the club's biggest rival in the division, was important, too.

"We all know that each win the Angels get, they get momentum," Ryan said. "They thought they had that game tonight, and we took it from them. So that's a good win for us."

The Rangers' mandate now is to carry it over and allow it to be a springboard toward playing the type of baseball they know they can play. They have a chance Thursday to split the four-game set with the Angels and keep the AL West lead where it was when the series began. But more importantly, the offense has an opportunity to gain confidence and start producing on a more consistent basis.

To do that, Andrus says, they just have to play "Ranger ball," something he said was in full force Wednesday. The Rangers were putting pressure on the opponent, making things happen, stringing hits together and expecting to get the job done.

"I thought it was a test of our character as a team and as an organization," manager Ron Washington said. "The guys pulled together and showed what they're made of and fought to the end and ended up pulling it out. I thought it was an outstanding game.

"The offense kept grinding. They would not stop. They would not quit. They fought and won."

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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