ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers outfielder David Murphy knew it all along.
“Tonight it just felt like a win was inevitable,” said Murphy, one of many Texas heroes after the Rangers rallied for an 11-10 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
He could have also added incredible. It certainly was improbable.
A Texas team that was coming off its worst month of baseball in five years seemed poised to get August started off on the same sort of note.
Texas trailed 6-0 in the third inning and 7-6 in the ninth. Then, after forcing extra innings with an Ian Kinsler homer, the life appeared to once again be sucked out of the Rangers as the Angels scored three times in the top of the 10th off All-Star closer Joe Nathan. A loss would have shrunk the Texas lead in the American League West to two games, the smallest it’s been since April 13.
But the two time American League champs put together a rally worthy of champions, scoring four times in the bottom of the 10th with Elvis Andrus’ double down the line in left scoring the final two. It gave the Rangers their biggest come-from-behind win since Aug. 13, 2010.
It also pumped new life into a club that was searching for a spark.
“There are some games for sure that are special, kind of like tonight,” said Andrus, who entered the game in a 1 for 19 slide but went 4 for 6 with three RBIs. “We were facing a team that was behind us and had beat us twice already in our house. We were a little angry for sure. Today we showed way more energy. Everyone was more focused. We just went out and had fun and played baseball.”
It wasn’t all fun for the Rangers.
Not when they trailed 6-0 after the Angels took advantage of four Yu Darvish walks and an Ian Kinsler error to score six times in the third. Not when Chris Iannetta led off the 10th with a homer off Joe Nathan and Albert Pujols followed with his second homer of the game and fourth in two nights to put the Angels up by three.
But Texas, which scored the fewest runs in the majors in July, got a 449-foot homer from Nelson Cruz to get the 10th going off Ernesto Frieri, who blew his first save of the year on Kinsler’s homer.
Michael Young reached on an error and David Murphy walked to put the tying runs on base. The Angels went to veteran Jason Isringhausen, who was greeted by Mike Napoli with a single to left to load the bases. Mitch Moreland followed with a single to left to cut the deficit to one.
The Angels dodged one bullet when Kinsler popped up. But Andrus, who got ahead 3-0, lined a full-count pitch down the line in left to end the game.
That dramatic ending also upped the Rangers lead up to four games and was followed by the news that uber prospect Mike Olt would be called up from Frisco.
Olt will join a Texas clubhouse that was down Wednesday but never thought it was out.
“The people in this room remember we’ve been through a lot together,” said Young, who went 1 for 5 and scored two runs. “We’ve been through big wins. We’ve been through long seasons, long postseasons, big wins in the postseason, some tough losses together. We’ve been through all the wars, all the battles. A tough stretch in the regular season isn’t going to get us down.”
The Angels did everything they could the first two nights of the series to put doubt into the Rangers. They did their best again Wednesday, scoring seven times off Darvish and hitting three homers on the night.
But Texas got to Garrett Richards in the fifth for four runs. That opened the door enough to keep the game interesting.
By the time Andrus finished the 4 hour, 1 minute game the Rangers had rapped out 17 hits and benefited from 16 strikeouts from five pitchers.
“It’s huge simply because we put ourselves in a hole 6-1,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “The way those guys over there are swinging the bats, you figure that they were about to add some more. Then we got a handle on making some pitches and getting some outs. And we just kept battling and kept grinding and kept battling and we got blessed.”
Blessed with key plays like Nelson Cruz throwing out Kendrys Morales at the plate to end the ninth, keeping the game at one run for Kinsler. Blessed that they were the first team to rattle Frieri, who had been a rock for a leaky Los Angeles bullpen.
All those rallies and blessings set the stage for some history as Texas rallied from three runs in extra innings for the first time since 1975. In that game it was Tom Grieve delivering the walkoff to beat Detroit.
But then again, as Murphy said, maybe they weren’t blessed at all. After all, Wednesday’s win apparently was inevitable.