Rangers barely hold off Angels
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers are having to rely on unfamiliar faces to close out games in their bid to make the playoffs, leading to some wild finishes.
Sunday was no different. The Rangers gave up three runs in the ninth inning but held on to beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-6 and take two of three in the series. The Rangers led in the ninth inning in all three games, hanging on Friday before blowing a lead and losing Saturday.
On Sunday, Tony Barnette got Luis Valbuena to hit a fielder’s choice grounder to second with the bases loaded to end the game and collect his second save.
“At the end of the day, we got the (win), and that’s all that matters right now,” said Barnette, who came on after Jason Grilli gave up a single and double to open the ninth. “We’re going to take that for what it is. I’ve been in tight spots like that before. Times like that, being able to bear down helps. Having those situations in my sights before I just think it kind of helps me be a little more comfortable.”
Barnette’s save made a winner of Martin Perez (11-10), who earned his sixth consecutive victory. The Rangers utilized an effective Perez outing and four homers, including two from Elvis Andrus, to build a 7-3 cushion going into the ninth.
After Barnette entered, he walked Justin Upton to load the bases. Andrelton Simmons hit a two-run double to cut the lead in half. Barnette struck C.J. Cron and then intentionally walked Kole Calhoun before walking Kaleb Cowart to force in another run. Barnette then got the final out against Valbuena.
“I don’t expect anything to be easy this time of year,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Especially landscape of the rosters, teams being able to match up, maneuver, some guys out of that bullpen that have been used quite a bit.
“Our guys continue to grind, that’s who they are, that’s their DNA. That’s why I love these guys. They’ve (been) written off, they’re giving up, they’re not going away, but continue to play. Doesn’t always look pretty at times, however, they find a way to get things done.”
Texas was getting it done against the Angels early.
After Perez spotted the Angels a 2-0 lead on a Cron two-run double in the first inning, Texas responded. The Rangers got their first run off Andrew Heaney (1-1) on an RBI single from Will Middlebrooks in the second.
Andrus then tied the score with a solo homer to open the third inning.
Texas took the lead with a three-run fourth inning. Robinson Chirinos clubbed a two-run homer and Delino DeShields made it back-to-back blasts with a solo homer to left to put Texas up 5-2.
That also ended the day for Heaney, who was charged with five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“I gave up a couple 3-2 homers on fastballs (to Chirinos and DeShields),” Heaney said. “Those are pitches where when you’ve got a good heater going and you’ve got a 3-2 count, a lot of times you can beat guys, get ‘em to kind of get big on a ball or maybe roll the ball over or pop it up. Today I didn’t have that, but I also didn’t do a good job of trying to throw something else trying to keep the guys off balance.”
Heaney also walked four, which led to some tight spots.
“He didn’t have as crisp of command this afternoon, certainly with his breaking ball,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “He just didn’t have a chance to bring that good mix that he had last time in. He gave a lot of counts back, missed some spots with his fastball that were close, but he just missed.”
An Albert Pujols single in the fifth trimmed the Texas lead to 5-3, but Andrus added two huge runs with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot off Keynan Middleton in the sixth inning.
Perez put the Rangers in position to win with six innings of three-run ball. He struck out four, walked two and gave up nine hits.
The Angels outhit the Rangers 12-10 but were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring positon and left 12 runners on base.
Brandon Phillips, Mike Trout and Upton — the top three hitters in the Los Angeles order — went a combined 6-for-11 with four walks and five runs. Andrus finished 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs.
NOTES: The Rangers put 3B Adrian Beltre on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Texas recalled RHP Nick Gardewine from Double-A Frisco for bullpen depth. ... Texas OF C Carlos Gomez was ejected in the third inning by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing a strike-three call. ... The Angels set their rotation for the next series at Oakland, with RHP Parker Bridwell starting Monday, RHP Garrett Richards on Tuesday and LHP Tyler Skaggs on Wednesday. ... Los Angeles recalled RHP Eduardo Paredes from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game. ... The Rangers open a three-game series at Atlanta on Monday.