Four-run 3rd powers Rangers past Tigers
DETROIT -- The Texas Rangers spoiled Randy Wolf's return to the Major Leagues with a four-run third inning without an extra-base hit, supporting Yovani Gallardo's six-plus shutout innings for a 5-3 win over the Tigers on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
With the Rangers' win and the Angels' 15-3 loss to the Blue Jays, Texas moves into the second American League Wild Card spot.
Wolf, acquired last Thursday in a Minor League deal from the Blue Jays to help fill Detroit's injury-plagued rotation, made his first start since June 2014. Eight of Texas' first 14 batters singled against him, including consecutive RBIs from former Tiger Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli.
"He gave up the four runs, but with the exception of I think two hits up to that point, they were all [on] ground balls," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "They were just finding places to go. They weren't at people. If they were at people, it probably would've been a different story."
Wolf settled down to retire 14 of the final 15 batters he faced, salvaging a quality start with one of the runs unearned, but Gallardo's work gave his bullpen a cushion it eventually needed.
"I think [the breaking ball] is a big key for him," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of his starter. "That gets these hitters off his fastball, and he was able to pound the outside of the strike zone."
Following up on the work of Colby Lewis from Friday night, Gallardo shut down a Tigers offense that scored 25 runs over two games against the Cubs earlier this week but came within an out of being shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since April 2008. Ian Kinsler's three-run homer provided drama in the ninth before Shawn Tolleson struck out Tyler Collins to end it.
In the end, Rougned Odor's tape-measure solo homer off Guido Knudson in the pitcher's Major League debut provided a big insurance run in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Little by little: The Rangers did the bulk of their damage with five straight singles in the third inning, building a 4-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Delino DeShields began the rally with a one-out hit, and Shin-Soo Choo followed with a single of his own. Choo has now reached safely in all 27 of his starts since the All-Star break. A throwing error by Tigers left fielder Collins meant the final run of the frame -- which came on an RBI groundout by Elvis Andrus -- was unearned.
"[Wolf] saw that our guys were pretty well locked in on his fastball in that inning," Banister said. "After he gave up the runs, he made an adjustment."
Cooling Cabrera: Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who had tallied four doubles and a single over his previous five plate appearances, stepped to the plate in the fifth inning with a chance to drive in Kinsler from third base. Gallardo, though, had other ideas, getting ahead in the count 0-2 before escaping the jam by inducing a sharp groundout with a two-seamer. More >
Rally falls short: The Tigers avoided their sixth shutout of the season with a three-spot in the ninth inning. Shortstop Jose Iglesias dribbled an infield hit down the third-base line -- Beltre jokingly kicked it foul -- and Rajai Davis followed with a single of his own before Kinsler launched a three-run home run into the bullpens in left field. The homer -- Kinsler's eighth of the season -- landed 379 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™.
"I gotta be honest. I may be 29 years old, but I'm glad I was nervous, because if I wasn't nervous, then I would realize that I need to retire." -- Wolf, on his return to the Majors on his 39th birthday (not 29) More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kinsler's home run prevented the Tigers from being shut out on 10 or more base hits for just the third time in the past 50 years. Detroit put up 11 hits in a 4-0 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 1, 2013, and 10 hits in a 1-0 loss to the Royals on July 24, 1986.
Wolf's appearance made him the sixth active pitcher to work in 16 different Major League seasons, according to MLB Network research. LaTroy Hawkins leads with 21, followed by Bartolo Colon with 18, Tim Hudson and A.J. Burnett at 17, then Mark Buehrle with 16.
Rangers: Cole Hamels will make his fourth start in a Texas uniform during Sunday's 12:08 p.m. CT series finale. The left-hander has struggled since joining the Rangers, pitching to a 5.23 ERA over three appearances.
Tigers: Matt Boyd, last seen pitching in relief at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, gets extra rest as he makes his second consecutive Sunday start against against a Texas-based team at 1:08 p.m. ET. Boyd tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Royals on Aug. 5 in his lone Comerica Park appearance.
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