Rangers manager Chris Woodward had a few things to say before Friday’s game against the Angels. Woodward said the Rangers were at a “pivotal moment” in their season and they needed to start creating their own breaks.
The manager also had a few words for right-handed reliever Rafael Montero, who was being activated off the injured list. Woodward told Montero there would be no soft landings. If the game was close, Montero was going to pitch the ninth.
That’s exactly what happened on a night when the Rangers were able to create a few breaks and come up with enough offense to pull out a 4-3 victory at Globe Life Field. The win snapped a three-game losing streak coming off a 1-5 road trip to the West Coast.
“It’s huge,” third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. “Anytime you can swing momentum upward, it’s a big deal, especially coming off that road trip, coming home and being comfortable means a lot.”
Montero was the last of a five-pitcher combination that kept the Rangers ahead for five innings after they scrounged together three runs in the fourth. The Rangers’ big rally against Angels starter Griffin Canning came on one hit, three walks, a hit batter and two errors.
Rangers starter Jordan Lyles, allowing three runs over 5 1/3 innings picked up the win with the help of 3 1/3 scoreless from Brett Martin, Ian Gibaut, Jonathan Hernández and Montero. Hernández struck out the side in the eighth and Montero had two strikeouts in setting down the side in order in the ninth.
Montero, used in setup relief last season, finished the game by striking out Mike Trout for his first Major League save.
“That was really cool to see,” Woodward said. “Lot of of what we saw last year. The command, the ability to throw pitches when he needed to. The sinker he threw to Trout was pretty new, something he had been working on. He has a pretty good repertoire of pitches right now.”
Canning, with Shin-Soo Choo at the plate, then tried to pick off Chirinos at second with a weak throw that ended up in center. Kiner-Falefa scored the tying run.
“We put pressure on their guy,” Woodward said. “We didn’t get a ton of hits, but we put a lot of pressure on the pitcher. He walked a bunch of guys, we made him throw the ball over the plate. Canning is a good pitcher, [though] he obviously made a few mistakes, tried to pick a guy off, gave us a few freebies. But a lot of it had to do with the resiliency of the at-bats.”
Canning then walked Choo and was replaced by Mike Mayers. After getting ahead 0-2 in the count, Mayers hit Nick Solak with a pitch to bring home the go-ahead run.
“We did have some walks, a hit batter and two errors,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It is frustrating, no question, but I thought we definitely had an opportunity to come back. We just didn't take advantage of situations. We just did not execute up to our abilities tonight.”
The Rangers’ bullpen made the difference, with Montero being the right guy at the end of the game.