Rangers stun A's with ninth-inning rally
Choice delivers two-out, go-ahead single against former team
OAKLAND -- Even Rangers manager Ron Washington -- ever the eternal optimist -- had to admit this was an amazing victory.
"That's an amazing group of guys we have in that clubhouse," Washington said. "All the things we're going through, they don't let it affect them."
Besides all the players on the disabled list, the Rangers had to start this game without outfielder Shin-Soo Choo because of his sprained left ankle. They lost Kevin Kouzmanoff, their hottest hitter, midway through the fourth inning with tightness in his back. Reliever Pedro Figueroa went down in the eighth with an unidentified elbow injury.
Through all of that, plus a major miscommunication on a bunt play that almost killed their game-winning rally, the Rangers were still able to score two runs in the top of the ninth and stun the Athletics with a 5-4 victory on Tuesday night at O.co Coliseum.
"Yeah, that was a good one," said Mitch Moreland, who started the ninth-inning rally with a pinch-hit double. "I felt like we were kind of meant to win that one. It just worked out for us tonight. It was a good one. It was a big one."
The Rangers have now won eight of their last 10 games. This is the third time this season the Rangers have won when trailing after eight innings and the first time on the road.
"I think win is a good word for that one," said infielder Josh Wilson, who tied the game in the ninth with a double and then scored the go-ahead run on Michael Choice's single. "Beating that team, the A's are a real good team. To get a win, all wins are big but those ones can hurt when you have a lead. We've been on the other side of that. Against a division rival, it's great to get a win like that."
The Rangers have won the first two games of this series, marking the first time this season the Athletics have lost two in a row.
"It was a fun crazy game," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Everything seemed to happen, I'm just glad we won."
The Rangers also won with rookie Nick Martinez making his second Major League start. Martinez allowed four runs, two earned, in five innings of work. He was given a 2-0 lead in the top of the first but allowed two in the bottom of the inning. The Athletics then loaded the bases with one out in the second but Martinez got Jed Lowrie on a fly to center and Leonys Martin threw out John Jaso trying to score for an inning-ending double play.
"Not an ideal way to start the game but things happen," Martinez said. "A great play by Leonys. It gave me a jolt. Great throw, great play. It just gave me more motivation to keep battling."
The Rangers were able to get the lead back in the top of the third after singles by Alex Rios and Prince Fielder put runners at the corners. Kouzmanoff grounded into a double play to get the run home but that was his last at-bat as he left the game in the middle of the fourth. Luis Sardinas had to play second base and Wilson moved over to third.
Wilson ended up making a key error in the fourth inning that helped lead to two unearned runs off Martinez and giving Athletics a 4-3 lead. But the Rangers were able to keep it close through the combination of Martinez plus the relief work of Aaron Poreda, Shawn Tolleson and Alexi Ogando. They combined to keep it a one-run game until the ninth.
Moreland led off the ninth with a double to right off of Oakland reliever Luke Gregerson and was sacrificed to third by Robinson Chirinos. That brought up Martin, who thought the squeeze was on and dropped a bunt on the second pitch. The only problem was Moreland, never seeing a squeeze sign, didn't break with the pitch and was thrown out easily by Gregerson at home plate.
"I was probably too aggressive trying to score," Moreland said, "From my angle, I thought the ball was up the first-base line so I wanted to take a chance of getting in there."
"Just miscommunication," Washington said. "It happens. We won the ballgame."
Martin was safe at first and then stole second. Wilson brought him home with a double to left.
"I had a feeling he would get a base hit," Washington said. "Thinking double? No. But I had a feeling he would get a base hit. That's what you're supposed to feel. That's what we're supposed to do."
That brought up Choice, who was batting in the leadoff spot because Choo was unavailable. Facing his former team, Choice put the Rangers ahead by bouncing a single up the middle.
"To be able to come through in that situation was huge," Choice said. "We've got a lot of fighters on this team. You just have to stay with it, get up there and make something happen."
Joakim Soria retired the side in order in the ninth to finish off an amazing night and earn his fifth save.
"Great game … a lot of fun," Martinez said. "Guys coming up big with clutch hits, I had a blast."