ARLINGTON -- Four big moments for four different players defined the Rangers' stunning, 8-7 comeback victory over the A's on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. The Rangers trailed, 7-2, after four innings before rallying against one of the best bullpens in the Major Leagues.
“To fall back five runs against their bullpen and come back to win it, that was pretty special,” manager Chris Woodward said.
One of the moments came in the first inning. Two others came in the Rangers' four-run eighth that erased the A's three-run lead at the time. The last involved a young closer who badly needed a boost of confidence.
Moment 1: Elvis Andrus
Andrus had an RBI triple in the first inning to tie the game at 1 against A's starter Brett Anderson, who then hit Nomar Mazara with a pitch. With Logan Forsythe at the plate, Anderson made several desultory pickoff attempts at first base.
Andrus broke for home on the second one and made it safely with a dashing headfirst slide ahead of first baseman Kendrys Morales’ throw.
“Through my whole career, I've always wanted to do it, especially against a lefty that is really slow,” Andrus said. “He did it one time, and I started calling Mazara to try to get more, more, more, because I wanted [Anderson to throw over] again. I talked to [third-base coach Tony] Beasley and said, 'If he does that again, I'm going to home plate.' So he just told me, 'Make sure you're safe.’”
It was Andrus' fifth career steal of home. That’s the most in club history, and the most by an active Major League player.
“That’s kind of their nature with [Delino] DeShields and Elvis, they’re aggressive,” Anderson said. “It’s one of those things, you throw it to first and you don’t really think too much of it, but it is what it is.”
Andrus later added to his big day with a solo homer in the seventh.
Moment 2: Danny Santana
An RBI single by Asdrubal Cabrera against right-handed reliever Joakim Soria cut the A's lead to 7-5 with one out in the eighth. With Patrick Wisdom, a right-handed hitter, coming up and two runners on, Woodward went to the bench for Santana, a switch-hitter who was called up from Triple-A Nashville on Saturday.
“I didn’t feel any pressure, I just looked for a good pitch to hit,” Santana said.
Joey Gallo, who didn’t start the game, seemed to be the obvious choice. But he was “under the weather” all day and unavailable. No matter. Santana ripped a two-run triple into the right-center-field gap to tie the game at 7.
“I was really happy to get Danny in there,” Woodward said. “There is something about him. He is a special guy with special talent. You saw the speed, the power, who he is. Everybody liked him in Spring Training, so I am really excited to see what he can do.”
Moment 3: Delino DeShields
Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit took over for Soria and retired Jeff Mathis on a foul pop for the second out of the eighth. That brought up DeShields, who is known for his speed and his bunting ability. DeShields swung and missed at the first pitch, then took a ball.
He then looked at the defense and saw third baseman Matt Chapman playing back on the infield dirt.
“I felt if I could get it down and put it where I wanted to, I could beat it out,” DeShields said. “Danny has good speed, too. It was the perfect situation.”
DeShields got the bunt down and beat catcher Josh Phegley’s throw to first as Santana scored the go-ahead run.
“He’s really good at that,” A's manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re in, Morales is in, Chappy’s in, he just put it in the one place where our catcher had to go get it. It was the perfect bunt.”
Moment 4: José Leclerc
With an 8-7 lead, Woodward brought in closer Jose Leclerc. It was a tense moment, given that Leclerc had allowed four runs with one blown save over his last two appearances.
“I don’t think anybody was overly worried,” Woodward said. “Just one of those things, especially with a young closer. There is a lot more pressure when you’re a young pitcher and a closer. He has had a ton of success in the big leagues in that spot, but the first time you fail, you want to see him bounce back and see who he is. This kid is a special kid.”
Leclerc nailed it down, striking out three of the four batters he faced to earn his first save since April 2.
“It meant a lot after two bad games,” Leclerc said. “I just tried to do my best, focus on throwing strikes and everything was there.”