Great homestand has Texas on right track
ARLINGTON -- As they packed up to hit the road late on Thursday night after their 2-1 win over the White Sox, the Rangers seemed to be carrying some things they didn't have when they came home eight days prior.
A winning record. Difference-making rookies. Late-game heroics. All sorts of things that weren't on display early in the season.
The Rangers in some way redefined themselves over the course of this seven-game homestand, which ended with a walk-off victory when Shin-Soo Choo drove in the winner with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning.
"This was really a spectacular homestand for our organization," manager Jeff Banister said.
The Rangers were just 5-13 in Arlington when the homestand started and 23-24 overall, but they went 5-2 against the Red Sox and White Sox. They had a pair of walk-off wins, the first coming on Sunday, when Josh Hamilton had a pinch-hit, two-out double in the ninth against Boston.
"The goal was to put a foot down, defend our house and put some W's on the board," Banister said. "Some were tough; this was the toughest."
Banister was referring to the fact that the Rangers left 14 men on base on Thursday and to the way starter Yovani Gallardo "grinded" through a six-inning, no-earned-run quality start after throwing 84 pitches through the first four innings.
The past eight days also saw the debuts of infielder Hanser Alberto, starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez and their top prospect, third baseman Joey Gallo.
All three were as good as the Rangers could have hoped for in their first action: Alberto has a six-game hitting streak to start his career, Gonzalez threw five no-hit innings to start his Major League service and Gallo homered in his first two games and is slugging 1.000 through 12 at-bats.
"The entire scouting department, development, the fan base and everything that transpired over this homestand -- it was just incredible for all of us, to put the W's on the board and reach the mark of .500 and continue on," Banister said.
Though his team has dealt with a number of injuries and other woes, Banister said the Rangers have handled adversity "about as good as you can possibly handle it" thus far.
"There's been a lot of adversity," he said. "I think we set that tone in Spring Training with the [Yu] Darvish news, Opening Day going out here with [Derek] Holland going out early. [Adrian Beltre] going down, [Hamilton] going down. How we played in the month of April. ... These guys, really, they've never caved in on anything. One of the best groups of players that I've been around of being able to really just move past certain obstacles, getting over certain hurdles and not looking back, not feeling sorry for themselves and just continuing to play hard and show up every day."