It took 13 innings, a crazy rain delay, and a clutch performance from Michael Young, but the Rangers pulled off their second extra-inning walk-off win in a row Sunday night defeating the Minnesota Twins 4-3.
The Ranger offense was again stagnant for most of the game, not scoring until the 9th inning. The Rangers could only compile 3 hits off Twins rookie pitcher Cole De Vries who pitched 7 excellent innings, striking out 5 and walking only 1. On a side note, here’s some fantasy baseball advice. If you need a spot start from a starting pitcher, look for a rookie who is about to face the Rangers in the next few days. This month, the Ranger offense has been awful against rookies. Here’s a quick rundown. On July 5, the Rangers faced Jose Quintana from the White Sox. He had never pitched against the Rangers. He went 8 innings and gave up only 2 hits. On July 1, the Rangers faced A’s rookie Travis Blackley. He pitched 7 innings giving up only 1 run. And last night, De Vries completely shut them down.
Fortunately, De Vries was pulled after 7 for Casey Fien who pitched a quick 1-hit 8th inning. It was Twins’ closer Glen Perkins who blew is third save of the year in the bottom of the 9th. It went like this:
Ian Kinsler reached on a throwing error by shortstop Brian Dozier. He then advanced to third on a passed ball. Elvis Andrus then grounded out to second, but was able to drive in Kinsler from third. Josh Hamilton popped out to third, but was followed by a single from Adrian Beltre. So, with two outs, Nelson Cruz doubled moving Beltre to third. Then Michael Young stepped to the plate. His two-run single tied the game, giving the Rangers a chance to walk-off in the ninth. David Murphy singled Young to second putting a runner in scoring position for Mike Napoli who quickly popped out to second base, because well, that’s what Mike Napoli does right now.
And that was it until the 13th. Now, when I say “that was it” I don’t mean that the Rangers didn’t have any chances, because OF COURSE the Rangers had chances. For example, they loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th, but couldn’t put one across when Craig Gentry lined out to first base. They put runners on second and third in the 12th only to have Nelson Cruz ground out to the end the inning. So, it took another at-bat from Michael Young to get things going in the 13th. He led off with a double down the right-field line. The Twins then intentionally walked David Murphy (for the second time in a row) to pitch to Napoli, who managed not to blow it this time. He grounded to third, but Trevor Plouffe couldn’t come up with a play, loading the bases for Craig Gentry. With the infield playing in, Gentry tapped one to short which resulted in Michael Young getting thrown out at the plate. (Another side note: I’ve been tough on Napoli, and rightly so, but Gentry had two chances last night to put this game away and came up empty both times). But, the bases were still loaded with one out for Ian Kinsler. Then this happened.
Anyone who has paid attention to my Facebook rants knows that I’ve been particularly hard on Kinsler this year. But he came through nicely last night, taking a 1-2 breaking ball and driving it to left field. Twins left-fielder Josh Willingham didn’t even make an effort for the ball, as the rest of the Twins slowly walked off the field losing their second straight extra-inning game.
Arguably though Kinsler’s walk-off wasn’t even the most exciting part of the game. In the top of the 4th inning it looked like a storm was about to roll into Arlington and well…just watch the video. (Watch Here) The player reactions are pretty funny in retrospect, but I’m guessing that pretty much all of us would have reacted the same way. I’ve been on a baseball field in a lightning storm before, and it is no fun. I’m not sure I’ve seen Mike Napoli run that fast all season. Also, watch Josh Willingham at first hit the deck before getting up and running off the field. My friend Ben texted to say that Roy Oswalt balked. That made me laugh. As another friend, Dave, pointed out, he should have thrown over to first and picked off Willingham while he was laying on the ground.
Oh, and this recap cannot go without noting two very good pitching performances in relief from Yoshi Tateyama and Scott Feldman. They both held the Twins scoreless from the 10th inning on, giving the Rangers numerous chances to take the win. I’ve also been hard on Brother Feldman this year, but he had a very clutch performance last night and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
So, the Rangers enter the All-Star break with a very strong 52-34 record (second best in the league). Hopefully, they can continue this after the break.