WASHINGTON -- Is this the biggest road trip of the season for the Rangers? Well, so far, it's off to a pretty special start, and Saturday may have been their sweetest win of the season."That's the team I know," manager Jeff Banister said after watching the Rangers pull off a
WASHINGTON -- Is this the biggest road trip of the season for the Rangers? Well, so far, it's off to a pretty special start, and Saturday may have been their sweetest win of the season.
"That's the team I know," manager Jeff Banister said after watching the Rangers pull off a 6-3 victory in 11 innings over the Washington Nationals.
The Rangers won it despite being down 3-1 in the ninth, missing out on an opportunity to put the Nationals away there, and then dodging their own predicament when looking at a walk-off loss in the bottom of the inning.
"To win that game was huge, especially against those guys," said outfielder Nomar Mazara.
The Rangers are still three games under .500 after their second straight win over the Nationals, but they were going to enjoy this one late into the evening in the nation's capital.
They are 2-0 on the trip with one game left with the Nationals and three against the Astros in Houston.
"Yeah, it was a huge win," outfielder Delino DeShields said. "Nobody in the dugout really panicked. This whole road trip will test our character. Coming in here against this club, they are one of the best teams in baseball, so yeah, it's a huge win."
The winning blow was delivered in the 11th on a three-run home run by Robinson Chirinos. Joey Gallo set it up with a two-out double, and Mazara was walked intentionally. Chirinos fell behind 0-2 before lifting a 2-2 fastball just enough to get it over the left-field wall.
"I just thank God I was able to be there for my team," Chirinos said. "It was an opportunity to come up big. I was trying to stay short and put it in play, and I was able to put a good swing on it."
The ninth inning rally came against Nationals closer Koda Glover. Shin-Soo Choo made it a one-run game with a leadoff home run, Elvis Andrus followed with a single and Adrian Beltre walked. After pinch-runner Pete Kozma replaced Beltre, Mazara hit one off the right-field wall that just missed being a three-run home run.
It ended up as a game-tying double, leaving the Rangers with runners at second and third. But the rally died when Chirinos flied to right, and Bryce Harper cut down Kozma at the plate trying to score.
The Nationals had the winning run at third base in Wilmer Difo with one out in the 9th. But Alex Claudio struck out Brian Goodwin. Trea Turner followed with a bunt, and Claudio pounced on it. Difo tried to score, then stopped, and the Rangers ran him down for the third out.
"Claudio showed he's a pretty decent athlete on the mound," Banister said. "He gets off the mound, he's poised and he has as slow of a heartbeat as anybody. That's why we want him in those situations."
Keone Kela didn't mess around. He pitched two scoreless innings to get the win, striking out four.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.