By Richard W. Humphrey
Courtesy of RangerRap.com
There was no change atop the American League Wild Card standings Tuesday night as all three contenders won. The Texas Rangers had a spotless bullpen performance from four relievers to hold onto a 3-2 win over Houston to keep pace with Tampa Bay and Cleveland. It was the Rangers’ 15th win in 17 tries against the Astros this season, and the first time Texas has won two consecutive games this month.
Texas scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The first one tied the game at one, and the second one gave Texas a 2-1 lead. The third one, which came on Adrian Beltre’s 29th home run, broke a 2-2 tie. It was Beltre’s first home run this month; as his last one came August 28.
Yu Darvish started for Texas and had command problems, as just 56 of 101 pitches were strikes. He lasted 5-2/3 innings, allowing both Houston runs on four hits. He did add nine strikeouts to his Major League leading total. Neal Cotts relieved Darvish and became the pitcher of record when Adrian Beltre homered. Cotts struck out two of the three batters he retired and is now 6-3 on the season.
Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor completed the seventh and eighth innings, with Frasor getting a huge out on a short fly to center field that ended Houston’s eighth inning bid to tie or take the lead. Joe Nathan set down the spacemen quietly in the ninth inning, striking out two and coaxing a pop to first baseman Mitch Moreland, to earn his 41st save this season.
In New York, Tampa Bay struck early with a lead off home run from Matt Joyce, then added two more runs to jump out quickly to a 3-0 lead. They added two more runs in the sixth inning and three in the ninth to finish off a 7-0 whitewashing of the Yanks. Matt Moore was wild and needed 107 pitches to complete five innings, but it was good enough to win his 16th game against four losses.
In Cleveland, the Tribe took a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning, but coughed it up as the White Sox’ Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza homered to take a 4-3 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Indians were down to their last out when Jason Giambi came off the bench to hit his ninth home run of the season with a runner aboard to take a 5-4 win walk-off style.
Tampa Bay remains one game ahead of Cleveland, which stays one game ahead of the Texas Rangers in the race for two Wild Card spots. Baltimore was mathematically eliminated when they lost 3-2 in 10 innings to Toronto. Tampa’s win over the Yankees all but eliminated New York, as the Yanks are just one loss away from being out of the race. Kansas City was shut out by Seattle, 4-0, to drop to four games out of the second Wild Card berth with five games to play.
Texas plays Houston for the final time this season Wednesday night with Martin Perez (9-5) facing Dallas Keuchel (6-9). The Texas Rangers then host the Angels for four games to conclude the regular season this weekend.