video thumbnail

Kinsler crushes a walk-off hit into the gap

ARLINGTON -- Down to their final out, with their offense still sputtering, the Rangers turned to a slumping Michael Young. He came through.

Young, who had three hits in his previous eight games, got a season-high four hits in six at-bats Sunday night, including a game-tying, two-run single with two outs in the ninth. Then, he led the 13th inning off with a double down the right-field line, beginning a rally that ended with Ian Kinsler's walk-off RBI single as the Rangers beat the Twins, 4-3, at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"In this game, sometimes you struggle. When you're a certain age in this game, people want to say you're through," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "But people here in Texas have been watching Michael for a long time. I wouldn't bet against him. Tonight, he came out and showed you what he's all about. Mike's a class act. He can hit. He can play baseball. Tonight, he proved that."

The Twins took a 3-0 lead after Joe Nathan gave up a pair of unearned runs in the ninth. The Rangers, who had scored just six runs in their previous 42 innings, erased that lead with Young's clutch hit, sending the game to extra innings for the second straight night. After leaving the bases loaded in the 11th and stranding two in the 12th, Kinsler, who went 4-for-7, delivered a timely hit of his own off Alex Burnett, giving the Rangers their first win in 31 games when trailing after eight innings.

"It was huge," Washington said. "We just kept battling. That ninth inning there, I think we showed the type of character that we have in that clubhouse. We didn't quit. We tied the ballgame. Each inning after that we kept getting them out there and finally we got them in."

"[Burnett] made some quality pitches, but he hung one and the guy killed it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He made a couple pitches on Kinsler down in the zone and that's what we talked to him about -- trying to get a ground ball. He threw a curveball or slider but hung it."

The Rangers, after dropping five in a row, have now won two straight games heading into the All-Star break and hold a four-game lead over the Angels in the American League West. Their 52-34 mark is the best record in team history going into the break and ties them with the Yankees for the most wins in the Majors.

"If you told us that's where we were going to be at the beginning of the season, I'm sure most of us in here would take that," Kinsler said. "It's been a good first half. I think we can definitely improve. That's the important thing. We just need to continue to play good baseball and try to improve any way we can."

Roy Oswalt, who surrendered a career-high 13 hits and 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings during a 19-2 loss to the White Sox in his last start, was much sharper against the Twins. He held them scoreless through the first five innings before a two-out RBI single by Justin Morneau in the sixth. He gave up one run on five hits, struck out three, and walked two while throwing 102 pitches, 64 for strikes.

After Oswalt was done, the Rangers' bullpen, a day after tossing four scoreless innings, did not allow an earned run in 7 2/3 innings. The Rangers used a season-high eight pitchers, including Scott Feldman, who threw 101 pitches and six innings in Wednesday's loss to the White Sox. Throwing on three days' rest, Feldman pitched two scoreless innings and picked up his third win.

"I was ready," Feldman said. "I think Roy threw the ball great, especially dealing with all that adversity with the game getting shut down. I thought the bullpen came in and kept the game right where it was and gave our offense a chance to win it."

Ryan Doumit grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch Oswalt threw following a 46-minute rain delay. A deafening clap of thunder in the fifth inning caused players on the field to scatter and race into their dugouts. Josh Willingham, who was on first base, dropped to his hands and knees after he heard the thunder. He was the last player to reach base against Oswalt until the sixth inning.

Oswalt retired the first two batters in the sixth before Joe Mauer singled to left and moved into scoring position when Willingham drew a full-count walk. Morneau then hit a first-pitch fastball up the middle and past a diving Elvis Andrus to bring Mauer home, the only run scored by either team until the ninth.

Kinsler hit a leadoff single in the first inning, was moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Andrus and advanced to third on a Josh Hamilton ground out. But Nelson Cruz, who went 3-for-5 and hit a walk-off double in the 10th inning Saturday, flied out to right to end the inning. Twins starter Cole De Vries tossed seven scoreless innings and the Rangers didn't get a runner past first base until the ninth.

"It was a slider up in the zone," Young said of his ninth-inning hit. "At that point, I was just trying to hit something hard. I knew the runners were out there. If I made contact, there was a good chance to get them in."

MLB.com Comments