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Rangers let the kids (and vets) play in walk-off

Texas youngsters get it started, veterans finish the comeback win
@Sullivan_Ranger
August 22, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have made a dizzying array of roster moves over the last month, bringing in an infusion of young talent. They may be relatively young and inexperienced, but the enthusiasm they have injected into the clubhouse is quite noticeable. This might make the final five weeks more

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have made a dizzying array of roster moves over the last month, bringing in an infusion of young talent. They may be relatively young and inexperienced, but the enthusiasm they have injected into the clubhouse is quite noticeable.

This might make the final five weeks more enjoyable for the Rangers, especially if they keep winning this way.

Box score

The Rangers pulled off another walk-off victory on Wednesday night when Hunter Pence singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 victory over the Angels at Globe Life Park. The Rangers took three out of four from the Angels, and all three wins were in walk-off fashion.

“There’s a ton of energy in that clubhouse, and we’re winning,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “And that’s the one thing that I want to make sure that’s clear to them. I don’t care how young you are. I don’t care how old you are for that matter. We want to win, we want to win every game. We want to teach these guys from the second they step into this clubhouse that we’re going to come every day with the intent to win.”

Reliever Jonathan Hernandez certainly brought some energy, along with a 97-mph fastball. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his Major League debut to get the victory while his parents and other family members watched in the stands.

The Rangers trailed 7-4 after six innings, but left-hander Locke St. John and Hernandez kept the Angels at bay while their offensive teammates mounted the comeback.

“I feel like this is unreal,” Hernandez said. “It’s a dream come true and to have everybody here to watch me play. It was a great moment. I’m just honored and proud that I was able to keep the game close so the guys could walk it off.”

The young guys came up big early in the game. Willie Calhoun had a home run and a single in his first two at-bats. Nick Solak -- in his third Major League game -- had two doubles and Delino DeShields had a double and a single to account for the Rangers’ first four runs.

“It’s great to see, especially for the future,” Shin-Soo Choo said. “There are a lot of good players who have come here and played well. We can imagine what it is going to be like, who will be here and help us win. It’s very exciting. We’ve got a lot of young talented players.”

The Rangers led 4-2 after four innings, but starter Mike Minor couldn’t hold it. He allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings. Minor retired 10 of the first 13 batters he faced before it unraveled with one out in the fourth. Ten of the next 17 batters reached base on five singles, four doubles and an intentional walk as the Angels took a 7-4 lead.

The two rookie relievers kept it close. On the offensive side, it was the veterans who did the heavy lifting late in the game. Pence, after striking out three times, had a two-run single in the seventh and Choo tied it with an RBI single in the eighth.

Elvis Andrus opened the ninth with a single off Angels reliever Trevor Cahill. He then advanced to both second and third on a pair of wild pitches with Pence at the plate. That brought the infield in, and Pence smacked one through the left-side hole for the game-winning hit.

Pence said the older guys are feeding off the enthusiasm of the younger guys, and it’s showing up on the field.

“I think there's a burst of energy from a lot of the veterans, as well,” Pence said. “Willie [Calhoun] has been just crushing it; everyone's playing hard. But absolutely, been a spark from a lot of these youngsters. Solak, what a start, what a spark. [Brock] Burke yesterday, Hernandez today -- a lot of great arms, and it's a lot of fun right now, being around all the success, and all the good youngsters coming up.”

This enthusiasm will be tested in September when the Rangers have a combined 20 games against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Athletics and Astros. But it could be fun to watch as well.

“So when we’re playing the Yankees coming up, when we’re playing the Red Sox, we’re going to take it to them,” Woodward said. “They may beat us, they may expose our youth, but we’re not going to have any fear, and we’re not going to allow that to happen. So it’s cool to see the enthusiasm, late August, hot game, doubleheader yesterday, day after a doubleheader, and we still bring it like that.”

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.