Texas won what manager Ron Washington called a “nail-biter” against Houston Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, 3-2, but didn’t gain any ground in the AL Wild Card chase.
The Rangers got off to a slow start against Astro starter Brad Peacock, but scored one run in each of the middle three innings Tuesday.
Geovany Soto, who had two of the Rangers’ first three hits, smacked an RBI single to right field that scored Adrian Beltre from second base in the fourth inning.
Craig Gentry led off the fifth inning with a single to left field, and Leonys Martin moved him to second base on a sacrifice bunt before Ian Kinsler brought home the speedster with an RBI single of his own.
Adrian Beltre hit a line-drive home run over the left field wall to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. It was Beltre’s first home run of September, and first four-bagger in Arlington since Aug. 20.
Rangers hitters entered the game with only three hits off of Peacock in 25 plate appearances on the season.
Rangers’ starter Yu Darvish failed to get out of the sixth inning, throwing 101 pitches, walking four and striking out nine. He left after allowing a game-tying home run and issuing his fourth walk.
Let the Yu-is-not-an-ace talk begin.
But it was only the fifth time this season that Darvish failed to make it through the sixth inning. Tuesday also marked the ninth time in 2013 that Darvish allowed two earned runs or less and didn’t earn a win.
“His command wasn’t as sharp as it usually is,” Washington said. “I wasn’t taking a chance right there to let the game get away.”
“The most important thing right now is for us to win a game and I was able to keep us in the game,” Darvish said through his translator after the game.
Rangers fans can turn their Yu Darvish K-counter bobbleheads, Tuesday’s giveaway at Rangers Ballpark, to an even 490 – if they’re tallying Yu’s career total. His 2013 total is 269, 39 more punch-outs than any other major league pitcher.
The Ranger relievers shut down the Astros when they needed to after Darvish exited. Lefty Neal Cotts pitched an inning of scoreless ball between the sixth and seventh innings.
Tanner Scheppers took the mound in relief of Cotts with one out in the seventh inning, inheriting the tying runner on second in the form of Brandon Barnes. After Barnes advanced to third on a wild pitch, Scheppers stranded the tying run 90 feet from home plate with a strikeout to end the frame.
Jason Frasor recorded the final out of the eighth inning after inheriting runners on first and third with two outs. Including a perfect ninth inning from Joe Nathan, the Rangers needed three-and-two thirds innings of work from their bullpen Tuesday.
“The way the game was flowing, we knew it was going to be a nail-biter,” Washington said. “I felt like we needed to stop it right there and those are the guys I used to stop it.”
It was save no. 41 in 2013 for Nathan.
Despite the win, the Rangers didn’t gain any ground in the AL Wild Card race, as Tampa Bay and Cleveland each won their respective games. The Indians won on a two-run, walkoff home run by Jason Giambi.
Washington said he wasn’t interested in the games around the league, and he didn’t notice the scores until around the eighth inning.
Beltre, on the other hand, said he was aware of the scores throughout the game.
“I think every inning I was watching the scoreboard. It’s right there for you to look at. Every time I got a chance, I turned around to see how the scoreboard was,” he said.
The third and final game of the series with Houston is slated for Wednesday night at 7:05. And there will likely be more scoreboard watching for the Rangers, whether the manager will admit it or not.