Leonys Martin was looking for a slider from Dallas Keuchel. That’s the pitch Keuchel struck him out with in the third inning, and had a feeling he’d start him with it in the fourth.
Instead of swinging through it, Martin lined it to right field for a two-out, three-run double to put the Rangers back in the lead and spark a five-run fourth. That proved to be the key hit on the night, too, as the Rangers went on to a 7-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
“I was ready for that pitch and thank God I didn’t miss it,” Martin said.
Said Ian Kinsler: “We were able to build an inning and Leonys got a big hit there to give us a lead. It was a big inning for us.”
Martin Perez threw three scoreless innings after that, and Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria closed out the game with two scoreless innings.
Texas held its ground for another night in the American League wild card race, remaining one-game back of Cleveland for the second wild card and two games back of Tampa Bay for the top spot.
The Rangers wrap up the regular season with a four-game series against the Angels on Thursday.
“There’s nothing we can do right now but win our games,” Kinsler said. “Everyone knows the position we’re in, it’s no secret here. We have to win games and we have to have someone else help us.”
Here are a few other postgame notes:
* Texas finished the season series against Houston by going 17-2. That sets a franchise record for most wins against an opponent in a single season. It’s not surprising, of course, as the Astros are the worst team in the majors and on a 12-game losing streak.
* Martin Perez won his 10th game after allowing three runs over seven innings. That’s the most ever by a Rangers left-hander in their rookie season, and Perez is now tied with Dan Straily of the A’s for most wins among AL rookies.
* The Rangers’ rotation is now 5-0 with a 1.53 ERA over the last nine games.
* The Rangers are expected to pass the 3-million mark in attendance Thursday for the second consecutive season. They have a total attendance of 2,993,232 with four home games remaining.
-- Drew Davison