Rangers' resiliency on full display in win over rivals
ARLINGTON -- A full moon illuminated Rangers Ballpark, a public steam bath at 105 degrees game time. It just had to be one of those nights Wednesday, one of those crazy old nights. And it was.
There was a whole lot of howling going on deep in the heart of Texas.
The Rangers fell behind and got mad, and then got even. Then they fell behind again, got mad again ... and seized the wildest game of this season, improbably, to rock an Angels outfit that was applying some serious heat.
Elvis Andrus cleared out the building with a two-run single against Jason Isringhausen in the 10th for a stunning 11-10 verdict after Albert Pujols' second homer and another by Chris Iannetta had given the Angels a three-run lead in the top half of the inning.
"It's the best feeling right there, when everyone comes after you," Andrus said of the mob scene around second base. "I don't really hit too many balls down the line like that. Today I did it twice. As soon as I saw [Alberto] Callaspo give up, I knew it was over. It's a great feeling, the best."
A prominent front-row spectator grasped the significance of this triumph on the heels of two wins by the Angels, who had a chance to climb within two games but fell back to four games off Texas' American League West pace.
"We all know that each win the Angels get, they get momentum," said Nolan Ryan, president of the Rangers. "They thought they had that game and we took it from them. That's a good win for us."
The Rangers were down early, the Angels scoring six in the third inning after Yu Darvish had appeared unhittable getting the first six outs. A blown double play throw by Ian Kinsler that would have kept it scoreless factored heavily into the uprising.
Kinsler would atone.
The leadoff man delivered an RBI double during a four-run fifth that made it 7-5. And then he produced the blow that forced extra innings, a solo blast with one out in the ninth against Ernesto Frieri.
"I called that home run," said Andrus, who was on deck. "I knew he was going to do that. I could feel it.
"There was something magic today. Even when we were down in the last inning, I was telling my teammates to keep battling.
"That's the Rangers. That's the way we play -- with heart and passion. We showed that so many times, and we showed it again tonight."
Ryan has seen his team's resilience on display repeatedly during Texas' rise to prominence.
"It's been a while since we had one like that," the all-time strikeout and no-hit king said. "It was definitely a team effort. That's the exciting part. We had good at-bats late in the game, and that made a difference.
"They've always been battlers. They've always had a history of when you think they're down, they come back."
As Michael Young put it, "It's in our DNA."
Young dismissed any notion that this was a playoff-like atmosphere, but he did concede that it was "about as big as a game on August first can be."
Ron Washington, normally an easy-going kind of guy, seemed to sense it was going to be a crazy night.
There was urgency in his voice, his game face firmly in place, as the Texas manager met with the media in his office two hours before Darvish's first pitch.
"This is a big game," Washington said. "It could turn us in another direction."
And if it didn't?
"If we don't win, does it mean our season is over?" he said, rhetorically. "NOOOOO!"
He dropped down in his chair, stretching out the word in a full-throated delivery that had to carry all the way into the clubhouse down the hall.
These have been hard times for the two-time defending AL champions. They have been struggling offensively, and the rotation has suffered with injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz.
Veteran Ryan Dempster, acquired from the Cubs at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, makes his Rangers debut in Thursday night's series finale against C.J. Wilson, the former Rangers ace.
"Those guys are playing good baseball," said Washington, always respectful of the Angels. "We can play as good as anybody in baseball. It starts with pitching, but we've got to put some runs on the board."
Texas knows it needs to get its offense rolling to hold off the Angels and their superior starting pitching.
Darvish was his own enemy with six walks, lasting only five innings and giving up seven earned runs. The bullpen kept the Angels in check -- with some help.
Scioscia chose not to run for Kendrys Morales, and the big guy was erased at home to end the ninth on a close play when Mike Napoli took Nelson Cruz's throw on Maicer Izturis' single and made a sweeping tag.
Kinsler and Andrus were catalysts at the top of the order, combining for seven hits and five RBIs, while the bottom third -- David Murphy, Napoli and Mitch Moreland -- spent the entire night on base.
The trio combined to go 8-for-11 with three walks and five RBIs.
Now the Rangers need to get some juice from big bopper Josh Hamilton. He didn't get a ball out of the infield in five at-bats, striking out twice and grounding into a double play.
Young Angels starter Garrett Richards managed to make it through 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, by containing Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Cruz.
Cruz began the 10th with a mammoth homer to left center, estimated at 449 feet. An error by shortstop Andrew Romine -- who'd played brilliantly all night -- and a walk ended Frieri's night. Napoli, the Angels killer, singled to load the bases, and Moreland singled home a run.
After Kinsler popped up, Andrus lashed the game-winner between Callaspo and the bag.
"This is just getting started," Andrus said, beaming. "They're a good team with some great players. We've got a long way to go."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.