Rangers leadoff hitter Leonys Martin was just trying to hit a ball over the five players positioned in the infield.
Martin instead knocked it over the wall for a game-ending three-run homer in the 10th inning as Texas, after trailing four times, pulled out a 14-11 victory over the Los Angeles Angels that took nearly five hours Tuesday night.
”This the biggest moment in my whole career so far,” said Martin, the former Cuban defector who signed with Texas two years ago. ”Last night, I had a dream like that.”
His dreamy thoughts came after the Rangers had opened the series against the Angels with another game-ending homer.
Daniel Stange (0-1), making his Angels debut and his first major league appearance since 2010, walked Mitch Moreland and Geovany Soto to start the 10th. David Murphy then reached on a fielder’s choice before Los Angeles put five players in the infield with only two outfielders.
That alignment didn’t matter when Martin sent his sixth homer of the season to the opposite field, barely clearing the 14-foot wall and just inside the left-field foul pole. It was the seventh at-bat in the game for the Texas leadoff hitter, who got more than just a ball to the outfield that would have won the game on the 434th pitch thrown by a combined 14 pitchers.
”He’s shown that he can do that. He’s hit some doubles down that left field line,” manager Ron Washington said. ”But the most important thing is he got a pitch up in the zone and he stayed on it.”
Closer Joe Nathan (2-1), the sixth Rangers pitcher, worked around a leadoff walk in the 10th for a scoreless inning.
It was the second night in a row the Rangers had a game-ending homer — the first time they’ve done that since 1981.
Before this series, the Rangers were swept in three games at Cleveland and had been shut out in three of four games. Washington held a 40-minute closed-door meeting after the finale against the Indians, and said afterward that his team seemed like it was sleepwalking.
Now, they’re walking on air.
”It wasn’t a meeting where I went up there and chewed butt. It was a meeting where I had to get them to understand what our purpose is, and what their purpose is, and what they’re capable of doing. And how to go about doing it. And everybody had a part in it,” Washington said. ”They committed themselves to each other to try to finish as strong as we possibly can. We have two games that were very exciting.”
Texas has consecutive victories for the first time in three weeks after scoring in each of the last four innings. The Rangers also gained ground on AL West-leading Oakland for the first time since June 27 — a span of 33 days. The Athletics lost 5-0 at home against Toronto, a West Coast game that ended before this one did after 4 hours, 46 minutes and just before midnight.
Texas, which won the series opener Monday when A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto homered in the ninth off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, forced extra innings Tuesday after Ian Kinsler drew a two-out walk in the ninth against Frieri. Kinsler then stole second base and scored on Adrian Beltre’s single to make it 11-all.
Frieri had converted 25 of 27 saves before his consecutive blown chances in Texas.
”This is the most frustrating moment of my career. I never went through this. I don’t know what to do,” he said. ”We’re very frustrated.”
Mark Trumbo and Collin Cowgill homered for the Angels, who lost their fifth straight game. Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP who spent the past five seasons in Texas, drove in four runs, while Mike Trout was 4 for 4 and with two walks after going 2 for 2 with two walks Monday night.
”We couldn’t do much more on the offensive side,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
The only Angels starter without a hit was third baseman Alberto Callaspo. He was replaced in the field in the fifth after being traded to AL West-leading Oakland for infielder Grant Green.
The Angels had their biggest lead, 11-7, after a four-run eighth when Erick Aybar’s grounder easily scored pinch-runner Kole Calhoun for an 8-7 lead.
J.B. Shuck stopped in the middle of the baseline to avoid being tagged by second baseman Ian Kinsler, and then got out of a rundown when the fifth relay throw wasn’t caught by pitcher Tanner Scheppers, an error that allowed him to get back to first. Howie Kendrick then added a two-run single, his 1,000th career hit, before Hamilton’s RBI single.
Soto got the Rangers within 11-10 with his three-run homer in the eighth, that ball landing not far from where he hit his game-ending homer Monday night.
Every Texas starter had a hit off C.J. Wilson, who allowed six runs and a season-high 11 hits while throwing 109 pitches in four innings against his former team. Los Angeles trailed 6-3 after the left-hander threw his last pitch. He struck out six and walked three.
Notes: Texas starter Derek Holland allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked two. … Wilson has an 11.74 ERA (20 runs over 15 1-3 innings) in four starts as an opposing pitcher at Rangers Ballpark. He was 27-14 with 25 saves and a 3.89 ERA in 172 games (38 starts) there before getting a $77.5 million, five-year deal from his hometown Angels after the 2011 season. … Angels manager Mike Scioscia was ejected in the second inning when he argued after when slow-footed Soto was called safe on a close play at first base. Crew chief Jerry Layne, who was at first base, heard only a few words from an irate Scioscia before tossing the manager. Layne then stood there stone-faced, appearing not to respond verbally, as Scioscia voiced his displeasure for a couple of more minutes before leaving the field.