video thumbnail

Hamilton delivers a walk-off hit in the 11th

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers topped the Indians, 8-7, in 11 innings on Friday at the Ballpark in Arlington in a game where too many players stepped up to name just one hero.

Elvis Andrus, who was part of two crucial double plays and scored the winning run with savvy baserunning on a slow infield single by Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, who tied the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, and Mike Napoli, who drove in a run in his seventh consecutive game with a solo homer, all come to mind.

But the newly revamped bullpen has the "most unlikely hero" title all but locked up.

After Derek Holland gave up six runs in 1 2/3 innings, the bullpen pitched 9 1/3 innings of one-run ball to give the Rangers' offense a chance to come back.

"The bullpen won the game, I mean, they did everything," said Young. "[Scott Feldman] came in and did a great job, Yoshinori [Tateyama] came in and did a good job. Mike [Adams] does a second inning of work. They all did a great job."

After Holland exited with the Rangers in a 6-1 hole, Feldman and Tateyama allowed just two hits over the course of the next 5 1/3 innings, one of which was a solo homer to Shelley Duncan.

"They responded," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly needed it, we were short down there, and when the starter only gives you 1 2/3 innings, you figure the night is going to be long. But Feldman came in and kept it right there for us, then Tatie came in and did what he had to do."

From there, all of the 37,842 who were in the stands on Friday can recount the late-inning heroics.

Young rescued the Rangers when they were down to their final out against Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez, hitting a two-run home run to knot the score up at 7.

Young said that he approached the at-bat in which he got his 1,997th career hit much like he approached any other at-bat -- just trying to hit the ball hard.

"I wasn't trying to do too much, I was trying to get short," Young said. "I wasn't trying to hit the ball out, I was just thinking about hitting the ball hard, to give [Nelson Cruz] a chance to hit."

With the game in extra innings, the Rangers' defense took center stage, as Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler combined to turn difficult double plays in back-to-back frames.

In the 10th, Andrus had to range away from second base to gather a grounder from Duncan. Andrus got the ball to Kinsler, who had to fend off a hard-charging Kosuke Fukudome at second base in order to get the out at first.

In the 11th, the duo doubled up on Michael Brantley, the Indians' speedy outfielder, who happened to be stealing on the play. Andrus hopped over him and then had time to gather and throw to first to get Jason Donald.

Washington, a former second baseman himself, was impressed to say the least.

"Elvis slides over in the hole and the ball jumps on him, he gets it to Ian -- one of the best turns I've ever seen a guy anywhere make," Washington said. "He can turn a double play with anybody. And then the next one was just as beautiful."

Of the five outs that Neftali Feliz got on the evening, four of them came on those two spectacular turns.

Andrus laid down a bunt single with two outs in the 11th and quickly advanced to second on a wild pitch. When Hamilton hit a slow roller to short, Andrus motored around third as Asdrubal Cabrera's throw to first did not have much on it.

When Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta fielded the catch, he glanced briefly at first-base umpire Derryl Cousins to see the call.

"You catch the ball and throw home," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "At first base, you don't even worry whether the guy is going to be safe or out. You just come off the bag and you throw home. That's the winning run. That's what you do."

That was just the opening Andrus needed. The shortstop dove home safely for the winning run as LaPorta's throw skipped uselessly into Santana's chest protector.

"A lot of guys play secure, let the next guy hit, but every time that I see a chance, a little hole, I try to get it," Andrus said.

The win was the Rangers' fifth walk-off victory of the season and kept them one-game ahead of the Angels, who defeated the Mariners. Comments