Drama seems to suit Rangers in another walk-off victory

Shin-Soo Choo is mobbed by his teammates after his walk-off walk in the ninth inning against the Phillies.

Tim Heitman/Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s still too early to tell what kind of team the Texas Rangers will have in 2014 but we know one thing after just three games – this team likes drama.

For the second consecutive night the Rangers rallied to beat Philadelphia in walk-off fashion.

Wednesday it was Shin-Soo Choo’s bases-loaded walk with one out in the ninth that lifted the Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Phillies.

Texas trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth against Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon. But five of the first six Rangers reached base before the patient Choo drew the walk after Papelbon had gotten ahead in the count 1-2.

"Our backs were against the wall and we did what we had to do to get a win," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "That ninth inning was on display for everyone.

"That at-bat Choo had certainly was a great one. That’s why you play nine innings."

The Rangers had to do plenty go get to the Choo drama.

First they had to get four scoreless innings of relief from the unlikely trio of Shawn Tolleson, Pedro Figueroa and Seth Rosin. They worked in relief of Robbie Ross, who allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings in his first major-league start.

Despite the solid night by Ross, it didn’t look like it was going to be enough as the Rangers missed early scoring chances and were down 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth against Papelbon.

But then it all clicked for the offense. Adrian Beltre singled to open the inning. Mitch Moreland added a one-out double to put runners at second and third. Pinch-hitter Jim Adduci beat out an infield dribbler to bring home Beltre and move Moreland to third. Leonys Martin followed with an RBI single to center to tie the game.

Papelbon then walked Donnie Murphy to bring up Choo and set the stage for the first walk-off walk for the Rangers since Todd Zeile drew the game-winning free pass on July 16, 1999. It was also the first time the Rangers have rallied in the ninth from being down multiple runs since 2012.

Drama indeed.

"To come out and rally back right there at the end and come out with a win to seal the series is a nice way to start the season off," said Moreland, who hit his third career triple before scoring on a Martin RBI single in the seventh. "To see how we’ve come together in the last couple of games, it might not look like it from the outside, but I think looking at it from the inside we’ve really come together in the last couple of games and made it happen. Tonight was a real team effort."

The bullpen helped set the stage for the drama as Tolleson, Figueroa and Rosin combined to allow just two hits and one walk. Rosin pitched the final two innings for his first career win.

The Rangers had nothing for Philly starter Kyle Kendrick early. Philadelphia got him a run in the first on an error and two more in the third when Ryan Howard smacked a two-run homer off Ross.

That appeared to be more than enough after the Rangers blew a scoring chance in the first after getting runners on second and third with no outs. Texas had just one batter in scoring position over five innings before Moreland changed that with his triple.    

Ross got the ball to the bullpen by pitching five innings and giving up seven hits while striking out seven. He made one bad pitch, which Howard hit 406 feet. But Washington was happy with Ross’ first career start and so was the 24-year-old lefty.

Ross was also happy to be a spectator and see the bullpen and offense rally.

"It was nice going out there and getting to be a part of that," said Ross. "You can go out there and have fun and know the guys behind you are going to go out there and swing the sticks. I feel like today I picked around the zone a little bit and hopefully next time I can go out there and do a little different."