Diekman shakes off line drive to provide instant relief
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rangers reliever Jake Diekman, pitching in the eighth inning of Thursday's 6-5 win, got hit in the backside by a line drive going 100 mph. It hit him in the right spot.
"It was two inches from my tailbone," Diekman said. "If it hit my tail bone, I'd probably be paralyzed."
The ball was smacked by Eddie Rosario leading off the inning. Diekman recovered in time to chase down the ball and flip it to Mitch Moreland. After a visit by pitching coach Mike Maddux and trainer Kevin Harmon, Diekman threw a few test pitches and stayed in the game.
"If you're able to throw the ball, a pitcher wants to stay in the game," Diekman said. "It's just being a competitor. You just have to make sure you get the next two outs."
Diekman did so, getting the next two hitters to ground out. That's the kind of gritty pitching the Rangers had all afternoon, allowing them to rally from a 4-0 deficit against the Twins at Target Field.
"Diekman wanted to go, he's a tough guy," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "If it was going to hit him, it hit him in the best spot."
The Rangers' gritty pitching started with Chi Chi Gonzalez. He gave up four runs in the second inning, but didn't crater. He followed that up with three scoreless innings as the Rangers rallied against Twins starter Ervin Santana.
"I just got away from myself," Gonzalez said. "I was overthrowing and I didn't know where the ball was going. The rest of the outing I was able to slow my body down and just had better control of my pitches."
Gonzalez had two shutdown innings in the fourth and the fifth. Those came after the Rangers scored two in their half of the fourth and three in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead.
"A gutsy performance by Chi Chi," Banister said. "Early on it looked like it was a challenge to get the ball down. But once he found the range and got the ball down, he was effective."
Gonzalez stumbled in the sixth, walking two batters. Keone Kela had to take over and gave up a game-tying single to Aaron Hicks. But Shane Robinson was thrown out trying to score on the play as well and the game remained tied. Kela, Diekman and closer Shawn Tolleson retired nine of the last ten hitters they faced on the afternoon.
"Great job by our bullpen," Banister said. "Really a gutsy performance by all our guys today."