ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward is running out of words to describe some of the wild finishes -- both good and bad -- that his team has experienced this season.
Wednesday’s four-hour, nine-minute roller coaster may go to the top of the bizarre barometer, but this one was one of the good ones for Woodward. The Rangers, after almost wasting a seven-run first inning, rode a three-run home run from Rougned Odor in the seventh to a 10-9 victory over the Rays at Globe Life Park.
“Touchdown in the first, a safety, I don’t know, there were so many ups and downs in the game, I can’t describe it,” Woodward said. “So many weird things happened, but our guys kept fighting. Guys kept coming in ready to pitch, they are fighting for their lives over there, you can tell by the way they play, and our guys matched it. We came out on top.”
Odor’s home run was the decisive blow. But if this game ends up costing the Rays an American League Wild Card spot, they aren’t going to remember Odor’s blast. They are going to be kicking themselves over four runners getting thrown out on the basepaths. That’s ultimately what gave the Rangers a chance to pull this one out.
“Our baserunning has gotten really really good over the last couple of weeks,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Tonight, it kind of came to a head. We ended some scoring opportunities with probably some over-aggressive baserunning.”
There were a combined 15 pitchers used on both sides. The Rays used eight of the 13 relievers available to Cash for the night. The Rangers needed six relievers after starter Ariel Jurado allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Rangers right-hander Ian Gibaut ended up getting the victory by pitching two scoreless innings. He was making his sixth appearance for the Rangers since being acquired from the Rays on July 28.
“It’s a pretty cool experience getting a win against guys you played with coming up in the system,” Gibaut said. “You just go out and compete. You can’t beat that. It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Gibaut was also part of the four executed defensive plays against the Rays' baserunners that ended up being crucial to the Rangers.
They went down like this:
The Rays, having already scored five runs in the second inning to make it 7-7, had Matt Duffy at third and Kean Wong at first with two outs and Yohander Mendez on the mound. Wong attempted a steal of second with Guillermo Heredia at the plate. Rangers catcher Jose Trevino faked a throw to second and looked at third. Duffy was totally fooled by Trevino, who fired down to third. Duffy was tagged out in the rundown.
“Really heads-up play by Trevino,” Woodward said.
Mendez then walked Heredia to start the third. At that point, he had faced four hitters, and all had reached base. Mendez promptly picked off Heredia.
It got weirder in the seventh with the Rays holding an 8-7 lead. Gibaut, in his second inning of work, walked both Ji-Man Choi and Duffy to start the inning. Wong went up to bunt but missed the first pitch, and Trevino fired to second to catch Choi. Umpire Rob Drake ruled him safe, but the replay showed shortstop Elvis Andrus’ tag getting to Choi before he touched the base.
“The awareness that Trevino has in those situations is pretty special,” Woodward said. “Huge out there. That was the ballgame. They could have added a lot of runs there, who knows what happens after that.”
Cash then sent in outfielder Johnny Davis to pinch-run for Duffy. Davis, who was signed by the Rays on Aug. 26 after leading the Mexican League with 54 steals, was picked off by Gibaut.
“We got some free outs when we needed them,” Woodward said. “That’s why we won the game.”
The Rangers trailed, 8-7, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Nick Solak singled to center off Rays left-handed reliever Colin Poche and Danny Santana worked an 11-pitch walk.
Right-hander Nick Anderson came in to face Odor, who needed just eight pitches. He went up looking for a fastball and fouled a couple off before finding a 2-2 heater to his liking. Odor ripped it down the right-field line for his 25th home run, putting the Rangers ahead.
“It was a pretty wild game,” Odor said. “We didn’t give up. We got off to a good start, didn’t score for a few innings but kept on fighting and kept on having good at-bats. You do that, good things will happen.”