ARLINGTON – This is what a pennant race feels like in late September. Drama every night and the Texas Rangers are glad to keep their role in it for at least one more night.
The Rangers couldn’t hold an early lead and couldn’t knock C.J. Wilson out of the game when they had a chance in the third inning. But they rallied late and pulled away with a 5-3 victory on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark.
The Rangers are one-game back of the Indians, who defeated the Twins, and the Rays, who lost to the Blue Jays, in the American League wild card race with two to play.
If there’s a three-way tie for the two wild card spots, Tampa Bay would play at Cleveland on Monday. The winner would take one of the wild card spots, and then the loser would play at Texas on Tuesday for the other wild card.
If there’s a two-way tie for the second wild card, the game would be played on Monday. The Rangers would host a game against the Rays, and be on the road against the Indians.
For now, though, the Rangers are simply happy to survive another day.
With the game tied 3-3 going into the seventh, the Rangers pulled ahead for good.
Ian Kinsler drew a walk to start the inning against Juan Gutierrez, advanced to second on a wild pickoff throw and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus. Alex Rios then came through with an RBI single to right.
Rios stole second and then scored on an infield single by A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski sent a soft grounder up the middle, but Angels shortstop Erick Aybar’s throw brought Mark Trumbo off the bag. Rios hustled home and slid in safely to give the Rangers a 5-3 lead.
Alexi Ogando allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings, and Jason Frasor got the final two outs of the sixth. Neal Cotts earned the win with a perfect seventh, Tanner Scheppers followed with a perfect eighth and Joe Nathan closed it out in the ninth for his 42nd save.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Angels tied it in the third on a sacrifice fly by Kole Calhoun. The Rangers responded in their half of the third with two runs off Wilson, but it could’ve been much more.
Wilson hit two batters, issued a walked and uncorked three wild pitches in the inning, but managed to keep the Angels within striking distance at 3-1. Wilson struck out Jeff Baker with runners at second and third and one out, and then got Mitch Moreland swinging to end the inning.
Wilson finished his night with three scoreless innings, as the Angels tied the game at 3-3 on Josh Hamilton’s two-run single in the fifth.
In the end, though, all that mattered is the Rangers found a way to survive another day.
-- Drew Davison