BALTIMORE -- The Rangers had not one but two incredible catches by their rookie outfielders on Friday night to rob the Orioles of three runs. The robberies kept the game close, in time for Texas to make a game-winning rally.
The Rangers then put together a five-run ninth inning, snapping a five-game losing streak in the 8-5 win at Camden Yards. DJ Peters led off the inning with his first career triple, followed by a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Willie Calhoun. From there, the offense started to feed off the positive momentum. Exactly what manager Chris Woodward has hoped to see.
The Rangers’ lineup delivered back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases for Adolis García. The American League Rookie of the Year candidate smacked a go-ahead two-run double, making it 6-5.
“It kind of snowballed in the right direction right there just doing the little things,” Woodward said. “There were some little things in the ninth inning -- the way we controlled the strike zone and we were patient; Adolis with two strikes staying through that slider; the way we stole bases. I mean, we work on those plays often. These are all things that we value -- that we know we can rely on to put crooked numbers on the board. We got some big hits, but it was a lot of little things that we did well.”
The bases were loaded again after Nathaniel Lowe, who hit a two-run homer in the first, was intentionally walked. Nick Solak grounded into a forceout that scored Andy Ibáñez.
The Rangers then attempted a double steal with García on third and Solak on first. Though García was originally called out, a challenge overturned the call, giving the Rangers yet another run.
“I was just waiting for that moment [to steal],” said García through a team translator. “I reacted on my own and that situation occurred. I knew what I was going to do and I jumped on it. … With a win like that, it helps build momentum to finish the season strong.”
The little things Woodward and his club have worked on all season were on full display in the ninth inning, however, it was two plays earlier in the game that impressed the skipper the most.
By the bottom of the third inning, Texas was trailing, 4-2, but making good contact with the ball. The Rangers were down but most certainly not out.
Orioles catcher Pedro Severino smacked a Statcast-projected 410-foot ball to center field. At first glance, it looked like this was a no-doubter for Baltimore -- and it would have been in 16 other ballparks. But not on Leody Taveras’ watch. The 23-year-old leaped over the center-field wall, robbing a potential two-run homer for the second out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Orioles again hit a long ball to the wall. This time, it was the 6-foot-6-inch Peters’ turn to rob a homer from Pat Valaika. He ran to the left-field wall, keeping the game within a run.
“If those balls aren't caught, we're probably still playing right now,” said Peters, half-joking. “The energy going into the ninth inning probably isn't as it should be and you know that game is probably a lot different. I take great pride in defense just as much as I do in the box. I want to be in the lineup so, left field? Left field it is. I want to go out there and jump into the fence, jump over the fence, I mean I really don't care. I just want to help us win baseball games, and you know those catches were huge.”