Ureña, relievers hold it down until Rangers walk it off in 13th

May 19th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- Nathaniel Lowe shrugged, almost annoyed, as a stray sinker out of the hand of Angels reliever Carson Fulmer hit off his shin.

After 13 very long innings at Globe Life Field on Saturday, Lowe came to the plate for the sixth time looking to finally end it. And he did. It just wasn’t in your typical fashion.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning after Ezequiel Duran singled and the Angels intentionally walked Corey Seager, Lowe was hit by a pitch to end the game, 3-2, in a rather anticlimactic way. It was the third Rangers walk-off hit-by-pitch in franchise history (since 1972) and first since Aug. 16, 2016 against the A’s.

It was Lowe’s fifth career walk-off plate appearance, with the last coming on June 5, 2023 against the Cardinals.

“Based on my recent success this last week, I was just kind of in the way. It was perfect,” Lowe said jokingly, having entered the day slashing just ​​.150/.320/.300 over his last seven games. “I’ve been in the way of a rally, in the way of an early chance against [Angels reliever Carlos] Estévez tonight, in the way in the first inning, I don't know. I'm just kind of having a pretty slow stretch, but I was in the way at the right time at the end tonight.”

The last walk-off hit-by-pitch in the Majors was former Rangers reliever Aroldis Chapman against the Mets last season.

Saturday was the first Rangers game to reach 13 innings since another 13-inning affair on Aug. 27, 2023, at Minnesota. The last extra-innings game to go more than 13 innings was April 12, 2015, against the Astros (14 innings).

The Rangers and Angels combined to go just 2-for-30 with runners in scoring position Saturday. The two hits both came from Texas’ side.

“That’s just baseball,” Lowe said. “You can call it great execution by pitchers, you can call it poor execution by both the offenses, great execution by both defenses. It was a pretty equally sloppy game from both sides. It feels like there's always an Anaheim left-hander that just turns in a quality start against us, no matter what they do against other people. So whatever that is, we'll figure it out.”

Though the game was technically walked off, make no mistake. The biggest reason for the Rangers’ victory was starting pitcher José Ureña and a group of relievers.

“It starts with Ureña, I mean, what a job he did,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “It was a terrific game. It gives us a chance and then we had some guys that really stepped up. It was a hard-fought win. [It was] entertaining, the things that were happening, and it's good to get away with a win. But you’d like to do it a little bit easier.”

It was just the third start of the season for Ureña, who was thrust into the rotation following the recent injuries to Dane Dunning and Nathan Eovaldi. As a reliever, Ureña had posted a 4.35 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, but he’s looked like a different pitcher since the transition.

On Saturday, he dealt six innings of one-run ball, keeping the Rangers in position to strike as the offensive struggles against left-handed pitchers continued. Ureña now has a 2.04 ERA over his three starts this season.

Rangers relievers Jose Leclerc, Jonathan Hernández, Kirby Yates, David Robertson and Yerry Rodríguez combined for seven innings of one-rule ball of their own behind him. The only two runs the Angels scored were a pair of solo homers from Jo Adell and Taylor Ward.

Rodríguez picked up his first Major League victory after dealing a pair of scoreless innings to close it out at the end. The veteran duo of Yates (0.98 ERA) and Roberston (2.28 ERA) have been nails all season long, but it was especially impressive for Rodríguez and Hérnandez to step up in a tight game like they did.

“We needed that,” Robertson said. “We've been scuffling, and it's not just the pitching. It's not just the hitting. We've just been kind of scuffling. We haven't really played great baseball as a team. We're a good team. We just haven't put it together in a long spurt. So it can be frustrating and guys can get down about it, but we're not worried about it. We just got to do our job and eventually we turned things around.”