Heim's walk-off dinger wins it after deGrom's strong start

April 12th, 2023

ARLINGTON --  isn’t one to stop and stare at his home runs.

But on Tuesday night, with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, Heim took a beat to stare at the ball as it flew off his bat, landing 403 feet into the right-field stands, before casually flipping his bat and rounding the bases where a Gatorade shower awaited him at home plate.

Heim delivered an extra-inning, walk-off homer, giving the Rangers an 8-5 win over the Royals to secure a series victory at Globe Life Field. It was the third walk-off homer of Heim’s career.

“That was a good one, sometimes you just kind of know,” Heim said of watching his homer. “It's always special when you get to do something cool in the big leagues. Whenever you can help your team in any way, it's special. So tonight, it was hitting a homer. Tomorrow, we'll see what it is, but it's special and we'll definitely celebrate this one tonight.”

It was the Rangers' first walk-off win of the season. Their last walk-off victory was against Oakland on Sept. 13, 2022.

Texas only trailed once against the Royals, heading into the bottom of the 10th inning. It was meaningful that the club was able to fall behind and storm back to a big, close win for the first time this season.

“It's just picking each other up and playing good baseball,” said Rangers ace Jacob deGrom. “So it’s definitely exciting. You'd like to win by a lot every time, but it's big [to be able to pull this out]. It’s definitely huge. it brings the guys together and everybody's out there trying to just keep going and going and that's what they did there in the 10th and we got a win.”

Heim may have delivered the walk-off knock, but two big at-bats in front of him kept the inning going. Adolis García -- no stranger to big moments -- tied the game with a two-out, RBI-single up the middle and rookie Josh Jung drew a two-out walk to set up Heim for the final dagger.

“We don't get there unless Adolis and Jung do their jobs in front of me,” Heim said. “So that's a great team win right there.”

“We had to find a way to score and the guys did a great job,” Rangers manager Bochy added. “Adolis García, we’ll talk about Jonah’s homer and that's the game-winner but to get a big two-out hit like that, that's as close as it gets. And it all started with the job Jacob [deGrom] did on the mound. He just threw a wonderful game there and left with the lead that we couldn't hold on for him.”

Though he came away without a decision, deGrom’s strong start was just as big a reason for the Rangers’ win as Heim’s walk-off. Texas’ ace has improved each time he’s taken the mound in Arlington, and against the Royals, he tossed seven innings and allowed seven hits.

deGrom recorded nine strikeouts against the Royals, bringing his season total to 27. It's the most punchouts by a Texas pitcher in his first three starts as a Ranger, passing Rangers legend Nolan Ryan, who had 26 in his debut season in 1989.

“I mean, he's always dominant,” Heim said. “You know what you're gonna get every time he steps on the mound. He's got four plus pitches and that makes my job really easy to call a game, so with him I am just working on what he does well and going from here.”

deGrom threw eight 100+ mph pitches, including two in the seventh inning, his final frame of the game. And despite yet another strong start, he still doesn’t feel like he’s been at his best.

Regardless of how he feels about his own performance, there is no doubt how big it was for the Rangers to come away with a win when their ace is on the mound.

“This guy has such great stuff, and I’ve talked about his pitchability … he just has this amazing command with the kind of stuff he has,” Bochy said. “You just don't see it. He's special. And that's it. I just enjoy watching Jacob when he pitches.”