Stubbs saves nail-biting ninth for Rangers
Defensive replacement makes running grab to end game
ARLINGTON -- Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson didn't think Drew Stubbs was going to get to it. He thought it was a double.
"I knew he hit it pretty good and I saw it was tailing away from the center fielder," Tolleson said after the Rangers' 7-6 win over the Tigers on Tuesday. "I was just praying he could there."
Tolleson's prayers were answered. Stubbs did get there, making a breath-taking running catch in deep right-center on Ian Kinsler's long drive for the final out.
The catch came with two on, two outs and a 1-2 count on Kinsler.
"I was creeping in during the at-bat as he fell behind in the count because I thought he was going to put on a defensive swing and just put the ball in play," Stubbs said. "He put a good swing on it, fortunately it hung up there."
Stubbs had entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement for Delino DeShields, who has excellent speed but not nearly as much experience in the outfield. DeShields is also dealing with a sore left knee, so manager Jeff Banister had Stubbs out there with a one-run lead. According to Statcast™, Stubbs covered just less than 72 feet on the grab.
"A guy like that…experienced center fielder, that kind of jump, speed, direct route to the ball, that's as good of catch you'll see in center field in pressure situations," Banister said.
Tolleson came on in the ninth to protect a one-run lead and retired Alex Avila on a grounder to start the inning. Then Tyler Collins and Anthony Gose both singled, putting runners on first and third with one out. That brought up Rajai Davis, the Tigers' leadoff hitter, and it also brought pitching coach Mike Maddux to the mound to chat with Tolleson.
One subject brought up was a possible first-pitch safety squeeze.
"We talked about the approach going after Davis and they might try a safety squeeze," Tolleson said. "He said if I thought I could make a play at home, make a play but do it quick. Otherwise go for the out at first.
"I said if he's going to try a safety squeeze, let's try a fastball up in the zone and see if he can pop it up. That's a hard one to lay off and a hard one to get down."
Tolleson executed his pitch and Davis popped it up to first baseman Mitch Moreland.
"Bad pitch to bunt," Davis said. "It would have been an easy run for us. Even if they had thrown me out at first, we would have had a man at second, tie game. Kinsler would have had a chance to win it."
Kinsler almost did, until Stubbs saved the day.