In what seems to be a trend this season, the comeback kids came to play in the ninth, as the Rangers defeated the A’s 5-4.
When it seemed like all hope had been lost for the Rangers, like nothing could possibly go right, the Rangers offense was able to come up big.
With the Rangers down by two, Mitch Moreland came in to pinch hit, and lead off the ninth with a double. A sac bunt from Robinson Chirinos moved Moreland to third, and things looked like they were going pretty well. However, Martin also laid down a bunt in the next at-bat, and Moreland was tagged out at home, in what was obviously a missed sign on somebody's behalf.
“I was on third and there wasn’t a sign on” said Moreland. “And I think Martin thought there was a squeeze, and he bunted and I was probably too aggressive in the situation, trying to get the run in. But you know, from my angle I kinda thought he bunted it up the first base line and I wanted to take the chance of getting in there. It’s one of those things when you’re standing at third base, you never see.”
With Josh Wilson up to bat, Martin stole second and with two-outs, the Rangers once again had a runner in scoring position. Wilson, the Rangers nine-hole hitter, cleared a double to the left-field fence and Martin was able to score, and tie the game up at four.
Former first round Oakland draft pick Michael Choice came up to bat for the Rangers, and made sure to show the A’s what they missed out on. With a single to right, a quick Wilson rushed around the bases, and the Rangers were able to win their second consecutive game against the A’s.
“You always wanna do good against the A’s” said Choice. “It means a lot. I mean, you know to be in the situation it was huge. I was just looking to get Willie (Josh Wilson) in. You just gotta stay in and stay with it. When you get up there just try to make something happen. Whether you’re leading off the inning, or trying to get on, or somebody's on and you’re up just trying to get them in.”
The win wouldn’t have been possible had the pitching staff not kept the Rangers in the game. Nick Martinez had a quality outing in only his second Major League start, giving up only four runs, two earned, through five innings pitched. An error from Wilson allowed two men to remain on base, and later score, but the young Martinez, who was pitching in AA last week, remained poised on the mound.
“I think his nerves got to him a little bit in those first couple innings” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “But after that he settled down and started making pitches, and that’s what he can do, he can make pitches. And he hung in there and gave us a chance. You know, especially when we gave him those extra bases and they scored those runs. Things could have gotten out of control, but he handled himself. he continued to pitch, he continued to battle, and that’s what we like about him.”
Aaron Poreda, Shawn Tolleson, Pedro Figueroa, Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria all came in as relief for Martinez, and were able to keep the A’s from scoring any more runs, allowing the Rangers to once again and compete in the late innings.
Figueroa entered the game and only faced one batter, Josh Reddick, before having the leave the game with an apparent injury. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff also had to leave the game early on, but he should be fine. With an already injury plagued roster, it’s easy to be concerned.
“Kouzmanoff just had a stiff back” said Washington. “You know the cold weather just got to him and we didn’t want it to get worse so we got him out of there. But we certainly don’t have anything on Figueroa yet.”
So in a bizarre game, where fans lost an inning of televised play due to technical difficulties, and Donnie Murphy and Wilson led the team in hits (two), the Rangers were able to do what they do best. One minute of listening to a broadcast and even the most dedicated fans will be scratching their heads. Whereas some teams depend on the payroll for a win, the Rangers are depending on the young guns and misfits. But maybe, that’s exactly what they need.
Martin Perez takes the mound tomorrow as the Rangers look to get their first sweep of the season against Oakland. Tomorrow’s game is slated for 2:35 p.m. CT.