Gentry, Soto come up big when Rangers need it most
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers got what they expected from their known commodities in Sunday's pivotal 6-2 season finale-win against the Los Angeles Angels.
Starter Yu Darvish was effective, even though he exited the game in the sixth inning. Adrian Beltre, the team's best hitter all season, smacked an eighth-inning homer that helped break open the contest despite playing on a gimpy left hamstring.
And then there was the play of left fielder Craig Gentry and catcher Geovany Soto, who have each played pivotal roles in the Texas effort to force a Monday tiebreaker game against Tampa Bay.
Gentry, who has assumed the role as the team's left fielder, went 2 for 3 with two RBI and stole two bases. And Soto had the game-winning RBI with a double in the sixth inning and added the team's second homer of the eighth inning off Los Angeles' Ernesto Frieri.
The play of the duo should really come as no surprise as the Rangers are 9-1 in the last 10 games started by Gentry. He's also hitting .472 in that span. Soto is hot too, as he's hit safely in nine of his last 10 games with three doubles, three home runs and seven RBI.
There contributions in Sunday's must-win game were huge for Texas.
"Gentry just continues to play well," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He does a lot of things for us, defensively, runs the bases and makes things happen and gets us some big hits. Soto's been doing it all year. He's a professional and a team player, one of the best team players I've been around."
Gentry provide the spark the Texas offense needed in the fifth inning when he lined a single to center to score two runs and turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead against Los Angeles starter Jason Vargas. With Texas leading 3-2 in the sixth inning, he also helped provide some insurance.
Gentry singled to open the inning, stole second, went to third on a sacrifice and scored in Ian Kinsler's RBI single.
Gentry, who has been successful on 18 of his last 19 steal attempts, was trying to do what he could to provide a spark.
"I'm just doing whatever I can to help this team win," said Gentry. "I feel like we're playing really good baseball right now. Hopefully we can keep them momentum going and kind of ride this wave into October. I've been working hard every day and trying to come out and keep the confidence going. That's what I bring to the table, my speed, and I'm trying to use that."
Speed isn't one of the facets in Soto's game, but picking spots for key hits is. His RBI double with two outs in the sixth proved to be the game winning run and his ninth homer of the season was the final tally for the Rangers.
Soto has just nine home runs and 22 RBI on the season, but his timing has been impeccable. Thirteen of the last 26 hits he has this season have gone for extra bases.
"I'm just trying to help the club whenever I can," said Soto, who has been behind the plate for the last five Darvish starts. "Whenever I'm not playing, I work in the cage, work on my body just so whenever I'm up there I help the club win. It feels good but right now we're focused about tomorrow. We're focused on the game. It's a must win. We're going to come out here and see what happens."