ARLINGTON, Texas – Rangers rookie Luis Sardinas came through in a pressure situation Saturday by relying on the basics.
Asked to lay down a squeeze bunt in the eighth inning, Sardinas perfectly tapped the ball back toward the mound. That allowed a charging Elvis Andrus to score easily from third and gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead in an eventual 5-0 win over Minnesota.
"Stick to the basics, that’s what you practice in a squeeze situation," Sardinas said through an interpreter. "You just have to put the ball down on the ground and I tried to aim it to the pitcher. I got the right pitch and I was able to execute."
The red-hot Adrian Beltre had just been walked to load the bases when Sardinas was inserted as a pinch-hitter for DH Donnie Murphy.
Rangers manager Ron Washington allowed the 21-year-old Sardinas to take a hack at the first pitch from Phil Hughes, which he fouled off, then gave the bunt sign.
"Sardinas gets a lot of credit," Washington said. "That’s a young kid up there in a tough situation. I gave him one opportunity to swing and then I put the squeeze on and he got it down."
Andrus took off with the pitch, a fastball on the outside part of the plate, and Sardinas smoothly pushed the ball back to Hughes, whose only option was to throw the ball to first.
"It was executed perfectly," Washington said. "He’s supposed to bunt the ball back to the pitcher, he did. I thought Elvis got off well. Even if he [Hughes] had caught that ball comfortably there was nothing he could do at home plate."
The next batter, Leonys Martin, doubled to right field to score two more runs. The extra runs in the eighth made for a stress-free ninth inning for reliever Neal Cotts and helped assure starter Yu Darvish of his eighth win.