Chirinos picks up his pitcher with walk-off HR
ARLINGTON -- Robinson Chirinos came to the plate angry in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday.
The Rangers catcher had called for an inside fastball in the top half of the inning that Justin Turner hit out of the park, tying the game and potentially spoiling an idyllic outing for Chi Chi Gonzalez. Maybe he should have called changeup, Chirinos thought. Maybe he should have called for a pitch away.
Chirinos, though, said he believes everything -- even in baseball -- happens for a reason. He responded by leading off the bottom of the ninth with a walk-off home run to left field in a 3-2 win against the Dodgers.
"I was mad at myself," Chirinos said. "But I said, 'Just forget it. Go out there, try to get on base and win this game. That's what I did, and thank God I got the pitch I was looking for."
Chirinos said he came to the plate hunting for a fastball against the Dodgers' Josh Ravin. He got one over the plate and low, extended and crushed it over the fence for a fitting end to an emotional ninth inning.
"Me and him were in the battle the whole time," Gonzalez said. "Putting down the right fingers, getting the outs. Sure enough, I give up the home run, but he gets it back for me."
Despite hitting just .207 this season, Chirinos has developed a knack for timely hits, but this one was his first career walk-off homer and his sixth home run this season.
"Extremely hard-worker," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Heart and soul behind that plate. ... He's come up with some big hits for us this year, and they've been late. They've been in situations like that. It's nice to see every one of those guys rewarded."
For Banister, the emotions behind this win were palpable. A club that seemed doomed at the end of April has surged to a season-high five games over .500. Texas is 8-1 in its past nine series and is only 2 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West.
Chirinos got the big blast to win it, but that was only the icing. Gonzalez didn't get the win, but he threw 8 1/3 strong innings. Closer Shawn Tolleson gave up two singles, but escaped the ninth without allowing a run.
Prince Fielder, despite falling while rounding third base in the first inning, hauled down the line in the fifth inning to turn a slow-roller to third into a two-out RBI single.
"That's why I love these guys," Banister said. "They never quit. They show up every day, they're ready to play. They don't play emotional. They play with emotion. They show up for every pitch, every inning. They don't always get it right. But they've got as much heart and desire as any group of players I've ever been around."