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Bush steps up with confidence-boosting save

Closer puts recent struggles aside, slams door in 9th to seal Rangers' victory
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

NEW YORK -- This was a big-time save considering the circumstances.

Matt Bush has had his struggles lately. But on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, the Rangers needed their closer to step up, and he did just that. Texas was in danger of losing a game they once led, 7-0, but Bush slammed the door for a 7-6 victory at Yankee Stadium.

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NEW YORK -- This was a big-time save considering the circumstances.

Matt Bush has had his struggles lately. But on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, the Rangers needed their closer to step up, and he did just that. Texas was in danger of losing a game they once led, 7-0, but Bush slammed the door for a 7-6 victory at Yankee Stadium.

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"I was just trying to stay calm and put things out of my mind," Bush said. "If you look outside of the box, yeah, it's a big save. I just calmed myself, look the hitters in the eye and go right after them, not let them beat me, Trust in my ability and what got me here. Everybody on the team has confidence in me -- I have to have confidence in myself."

Bush had to get through the top of the Yankees' lineup in a one-run game to earn his ninth save. This may have been the biggest of the nine.

"Yeah, that was a big-boy save," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "That should be huge confidence boost."

Bush started by facing Brett Gardner, who had hit the game-tying home run off him on Friday night. Bush, with his fastball hitting 99 miles per hour, struck him out on three pitches and then retired Austin Romine on a weak pop to first.

That left Aaron Judge, who is leading the Major Leagues in home runs. Bush went after him, but Judge lined a single to left. All things considered, that was a victory for the Rangers -- except it brought up Gary Sanchez. The Yankees' cleanup hitter had put New York back in the game with a three-run homer in the fifth, and now he represented the winning run.

Bush struck him out on a curveball in the dirt to end the game.

"I was just trusting my ability and what was working for me," Bush said. "It's huge that Banister has trust in me to run me back out there."

Bush entered the day having blown three of his past five save opportunities over eight appearances. In that stretch, he allowed nine runs (eight earned) on 16 hits and five walks with eight strikeouts.

"It's the toughest stretch I have been through in two years," Bush said. "I'm learning as a pitcher, and it's tough learning in the ninth inning when you're battling your tail off. It's very tough, you think about everything. ... Am I going to be able to support my fiance? Am I going to lose my confidence? So many things. But my job is to be mentally tough and let it go."

He was more than tough enough on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

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.

Texas Rangers, Matt Bush