One great Adrian deserves another.
On a night when the Rangers honored former third baseman Adrian Beltre, starter Adrian Sampson made it a complete triumph with his fifth straight victory. Sampson held the Athletics to one run over nine innings for his first complete game in the Rangers' 3-1 victory on Saturday night at Globe Life Park.
The win allowed the Rangers to sweep a doubleheader from the A's after a 10-5 win in Game 1. The Rangers have now won 17 out of 24 and are five games over .500 (34-29) for the first time this season.
“I just feed off the energy,” Sampson said. “I mean, obviously today was all about [Beltre]. We have the same first name so I was pretending they were rooting for me instead. Hunter [Pence] talks about it all the time, visualize playoff atmosphere. And when you have a big crowd like that, everybody is cheering like that, it makes it a little easier. But I just feed off that kind of stuff.”
They were cheering for Sampson at the end when he retired the last 12 batters he faced. Sampson’s first three wins in his streak came in relief after the Rangers used an opener to start the game. The last two wins have come with Sampson taking the ball right away as the starter. In his last five outings overall, he has a 1.99 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In 31 2/3 innings, he has struck out 30 and walked just three.
“Yeah, there’s so much about Adrian that I value,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said,. “He’s done literally everything we’ve ever asked. He went into Spring Training not on the roster, got taken off the roster, had a little chip on his shoulder but didn’t make the team. Another chip on his shoulder, everything he had to do to come back here and pitch for us. It’s been phenomenal and I’m really proud of who he is. He deserves every bit of success he’s getting right now.”
The five wins are extra sweet for a pitcher who was having trouble getting just one at the end of last season and early this year.
“They are contagious,” Sampson said. “I don’t know. It took me a full year to get one and now I get five in a row. I don’t know what it is but I’m going to keep rolling.”
Sampson’s complete game coupled with the work of rookie pitchers Joe Palumbo, Jeffrey Springs and Phillips Valdez in the first game enabled the Rangers to sweep a doubleheader without taxing their bullpen. Closer Shawn Kelley and prime setup relievers Chris Martin, Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc got a totally unexpected day off.
“Knowing how difficult four games in 48 hours is from a pitching staff standpoint, what Sampson did tonight that second game, it’s going to help us in the Boston series. Not just tomorrow,” Woodward said. “I can’t understate the importance of that game right there. He was phenomenal, very similar to what he was last time. Very efficient, throwing strikes, commanding both sides, commanding his slider, a lot of swing and miss, a lot of weak contact.”
Sampson threw 109 pitches for only the Rangers second complete game of the season. Mike Minor had a shutout against the Angels on April 16. This was the first complete game by a Rangers rookie since Chi Chi Gonzalez on June 5, 2015, at Kansas City and the first by a rookie in Arlington since Tommy Hunter on Sept. 13, 2009.
”He just kept us off balance,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “I don’t know if we’re dragging a little bit. It’d be nice to get some sleep at some point. But that’s no excuse. You have to give him some credit, too.”
The Rangers did not get a hit off Athletics starter Chris Bassitt until one out in the fifth when Danny Santana lined a single to right-center field. Ronald Guzman followed with a single to center and Jeff Mathis singled to left to drive home Santana.
Bassitt then hit Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases, which was the 58th time Choo has been hit by a pitch with the Rangers, passing Ian Kinsler for the most ever in Rangers history. Delino DeShields put the Rangers ahead with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Rangers added another run in the sixth when Rougned Odor worked a two-out walk and scored on Santana’s triple. From there, the Rangers enjoyed a special night right to the end.
“It was huge,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Playing in front of a full house helped us. It gave us the energy because that first game was a long game. And we needed it. We appreciate it and [we're] really glad that Adrian -- not Beltre, but Sampson -- went deep into the game. We scored a few runs and he did the rest. It was a really great day collectively as a team and we need to close it tomorrow.”