Rangers win again at Blue Jays, go up 2-0
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 10, 2015 06:02 PM
Texas Rangers' Hanser Alberto, left, jogs onto the field as relief pitcher Ross Ohlendorf, center, and catcher Bobby Wilson, right, celebrate the Rangers' 8-2 win against the Houston Astros in a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
TORONTO (AP) — Texas' seldom-used backup infielder Hanser Alberto thrived in his moment in the spotlight, hitting a tiebreaking single in the 14th inning that helped the Rangers beat Toronto 6-4 on Friday, taking a 2-0 lead in their American League Division Series.
After two road wins, the Rangers can clinch the best-of-five series at home on Sunday and become the first team into the final four of the MLB playoffs.
The other AL series is even at 1-1 after Kansas City rallied to beat Houston, while in the opening games of the two National League series, St. Louis defeated the Chicago Cubs in the first playoff game between the long-time rivals, and pitcher Jacob deGrom steered the New York Mets to victory at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Texas' victory seems to owe more to the bat used in the 14th inning than the individuals wielding it. Alberto decided to use the bat of teammate Delino DeShields and produced the go-ahead hit, and then DeShields used it for an infield hit that drove in an insurance run.
"I didn't even ask him for it," Alberto said. "Good wood, too, you know?"
Alberto, batting last and only in the lineup because star third baseman Adrian Beltre was out with a strained back, made an error that led to Toronto's first two runs but redeemed himself with his big hit in extra innings.
Alberto, who made his big league debut this season, also had a sacrifice fly.
"It's extremely special for him," Rangers first-year manager Jeff Banister said. "Really, a guy that has sat at the end of the bench for us, an extra player."
Another packed crowd at Rogers Centre that made a lot of noise early was quiet at the very end. Toronto, back in the postseason for the first time since winning the 1993 World Series, lost for the second straight day at home.
Texas' Rougned Odor hit a two-out single in the 14th but was nearly thrown out after going too far around second base on a single by Chris Gimenez, with the call confirmed by replay review.
"You wonder if 50,000 could be wrong," Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar said. "I'm pretty sure I saw some daylight there."
That call proved pivotal when Alberto lined a single to center, sending Odor tumbling home.
Kansas City rallied from a three-run deficit, getting a go-ahead single from Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning, and edged Houston 5-4.
In a tight game that brought back memories of the Royals' nip-and-tuck postseason last year that carried them to the World Series, Kansas City knotted the game at 4-4 in the sixth inning. Kansas City took the lead in the seventh when Alcides Escobar led off with a triple and Zobrist followed with his single.
Royals' closer Wade Davis produced the save in dramatic style. After issuing a one-out walk, the speedy Carlos Gomez came in as a pinch-runner. Davis snapped a throw to Eric Hosmer at first, and he neatly snagged it on one hop as Gomez made a dive back to the bag. Gomez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review.
Jose Altuve then grounded out to end it.
It was a crucial victory considering what awaits Kansas City in Game 3 on Sunday: Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who was 15-0 at home this season.
St. Louis' John Lackey lived up to his reputation as a pitcher who craves the ball in October, helping the Cardinals cool off the upstart Chicago Cubs with a 4-0 win in their series opener.
Lackey outpitched old teammate Jon Lester, pitching scoreless into the eighth inning, and rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty each homered late.
"Tonight was special, for sure," Lackey said. "The atmosphere was outstanding, the crowd was really into it, and I knew I'd have to pitch well."
He did it in front of a standing room only crowd of 47,830 — the second-largest at 10-year-old Busch Stadium.
Lackey protected a 1-0 lead by holding the Cubs hitless for five innings, getting help from Kris Bryant' double-play ball by to end the fourth. Addison Russell ended the no-hitter bid with a single to open the sixth, and Lackey allowed only one other in 7-1/3 innings.
New York's deGrom produced 13 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings to steer the Mets to a 3-1 win at the Dodgers, getting the better of Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw, in the club's first playoff game for nine years.
"Before the game I was pretty nervous," said deGrom, who at 27 is in just his second major league season. "But once I got out there warming up, I kind of settled down. It really went away after the first pitch I threw."
DeGrom (1-0) 13 strikeouts tied the franchise playoff record set by Tom Seaver in Game 1 of the 1973 NL Championship Series.
"I've got a little more confidence out there," deGrom said. "There were a couple times tonight, 3-2, where I threw a couple change-ups. Last year I probably wouldn't have done that."
Kershaw (0-1) endured his fifth straight postseason loss. Last season's NL MVP was pulled after loading the bases with three walks in the seventh inning. He struck out 11 and left with the Dodgers trailing 1-0.
However, he carried responsibility for two more runs because, with those bases loaded, Mets captain David Wright had a two-out, two-run single off Pedro Baez that put New York up 3-0.
"It's been nine years since I felt this," said Wright, who missed 115 games with injuries this season. "That's about as sweet as I thought it was going to be."