It was another late inning victory for the Rangers, as an eighth inning RBI single from Donnie Murphy scored Kevin Kouzmanoff and gave them the 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics.
The game was tied 3-3 going into the eighth, when Kouzmanoff, this weeks American League player of the week, leadoff for the Rangers with a double. Mitch Moreland laid down a sac-bunt that advanced Kouz to third, and put Murphy into the perfect position with a man on and no outs. With a single to right field, Kouzmanoff was able to score and give the Rangers the go ahead run.
“I’m very happy with the offensive execution” said manager Ron Washington. “You know, we’ve worked awfully hard on that, and you know, everybody throughout the whole lineup worked on it. And when the situation dictated that was something we had to do, they were able to come through.”
This Ranger team has depended on late-inning hits frequently, this season, but the ability to score clutch runs late in the game is what has carried them so far, and left them with the second best record in the AL.
“I think there is a good flow” said Kouzmanoff. “I think hitting is momentum. I think once we start stringing some hits together, good things happen.”
And momentum is something Kouzmanoff would know about, having hit safely in all but one game since being brought up from AAA Round Rock. Kouz had two hits tonight, one that scored Prince Fielder when the Rangers were down, and then the double in the eighth that would put him on second for the go ahead run.
“I’m just trying to get good pitches to hit and hit them hard” said Kouzmanoff. “Over the past week I’ve been getting pitches to hit and I’ve been been putting the barrel of the bat on the ball. That’s just baseball. Sometimes you do that and sometimes you don’t. But that’s the biggest thing, just coming out, getting my reps in, getting my work in just like everyone else out here. Just trying to get on base and score.”
Starting pitcher Yu Darvish came into the game with a 1-6 record, but earned neither a win or a loss in today’s game. Darvish lasted only six innings, in which he had a 116 pitch count. It wasn’t the best game from Darvish, but even the worst game from Darvish is still pretty good.
“They moved in on Yu early” said Washington. “But fortunately he was able to settle down and make some pitches after that fourth inning. We were able to keep fighting and put some runs on the board and that’s what it’s all about.”
Jason Frasor, Neal Cotts and Alexi Ogando all came in relieve Darvish, while Joakim Soria earned the save. The combined three shutout innings all four pitchers accounted for, were key in the Rangers comeback victory.
In the end, the Rangers were able to capitalize on enough opportunities to earn their first victory against the divisional rival A’s, which moves their record to 6-2 in the west. Not too bad considering the next eleven games they play will be against teams within their division.
“Every time you get a win, especially if it’s a team you always get, it’s good to start a series that way” said Prince Fielder. “Good things are happening, usually they continue to happen. So we’ll just see if we can keep it going and keep playing hard.”
Tomorrow’s game against Oakland is slated to begin at 9:05 p.m. CT.