True grit: Texas battle-tested at halfway mark
Rangers improve to 18-6 in one-run games after Desmond's 10th-inning homer
MINNEAPOLIS -- The American League All-Star team will be announced on Tuesday night. If Ian Desmond isn't on the team, those making such decisions haven't been paying attention to why the Rangers have the best record in the AL.
Desmond, who was the Rangers' Player of the Month for both May and June, is now the early favorite for Mr. July after hitting the go-ahead home run in the 10th inning for a 3-2 victory over the Twins on Friday night at Target Field.
"He continues to impress every single night," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "What he does and the intensity he plays with was very impressive."
Desmond credited a batting tip from special assistant Bobby Jones for getting him back on track after he went 1-for-7 over the last two games in New York. Jones reminded him about staying inside the ball and going opposite field. That's Desmond's strength, and the game-winner went out to right-center field.
The win came after two walk-off losses to the Yankees on Wednesday and Thursday. Once the game reached the ninth inning tied, a third straight walk-off loss loomed as a possibility.
But the relief pitching of Matt Bush and Sam Dyson, after seven strong innings from starter Martin Perez, kept that from happening.
"There's nothing wrong with a little adversity, especially at this stage of the season, to see what you're made of," Desmond said. "We had some good bounce-back performances. A lot of good things happened. We had a lot of good stuff going, not letting two games in New York affect us. Bounce-back was good."
Perez, who allowed only a two-run home run to Trevor Plouffe in the seventh, did not get the win, but his six-game winning streak is still intact.
"The team won, that's the most important thing," said Perez, who retired the first 10 hitters he faced and took a no-hitter into the fifth.
"Outstanding job by Martin Perez," Banister said.
Bush earned the win by pitching two scoreless innings, and Dyson worked the 10th for his 17th save. It was also his first since his second blown save of the season on Wednesday night in New York.
"It was awesome," Dyson said. "Everyone pitched well, we played good defense and we battled through some innings and scored some runs."
The Rangers pushed their record to 18-6 in one-run games. They are also 7-9 in two-run games, which means that almost half of the Rangers' games -- 40 out of 81 -- have been decided by one or two runs.
That doesn't even include games like Monday night, when the Rangers rallied for four in the ninth for a 9-6 victory over the Yankees. It also doesn't show how much energy and intensity the Rangers are expending every night in winning these close games.
"These close games, they are challenging," Banister said. "We continue to grind it out. It's going to be that way. This is how we play. I don't know if it's energy as much as intensity.
"But there's a great mix of veteran players with youth. The young guys have the energy to allow the veterans to step up, and the veterans have a calming presence that helps the young guys relax."
So far, the Rangers are holding up just fine, but they have a half-season left.
"It is what it is," Banister said. "We played a lot of these games last year. It seems like we're playing them every single night, but that's why these guys are so good."