Byrd helps Rangers rally past Tigers
Outfielder's two-run triple in ninth inning sparks comeback
ARLINGTON -- Some players have the distinction of being station-to-station runners.Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, two of the most unlikely clubs -- the Rangers and the Tigers -- featured station-to-station offenses. That is, until Marlon Byrd stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. At that point, Texas and Detroit had combined for 13 hits -- all singles. At that point, the Rangers also trailed by two runs and were in desperate need of a big hit. Byrd came through with a two-RBI triple. "It kept us going," Chris Davis said. "Marlon came up big for us. We needed somebody to light the fuse for us." That triple and two intentional walks set up Davis to put the game on ice. He came through, slapping a high 0-2 changeup over Tigers left fielder Matt Joyce to drive in Byrd for the game-winning run in a 5-4 Rangers victory. "In my mind, I thought it was right there," Davis said. "Not until I came in and saw the replay did I see how high it was. But I got a hit out of it, so I'm not complaining." Davis' clutch single gave the Rangers their eighth walk-off victory of the season. How appropriate it was that a base hit proved to be the difference. Somehow each club combined for six runs entering the bottom of the ninth despite neither having a single extra-base hit. Then a pair of Rangers who were in MRI tanks earlier in the day joined forces to spark a ninth-inning rally. Michael Young underwent an MRI on Tuesday to have his right ring finger and right wrist examined. The box score showed Young drew a leadoff walk. It doesn't show he went from being down 0-2 to working a full count and then getting on base. Josh Hamilton followed with the Rangers' sixth base hit of the night to put the tying runs on base and bring Byrd to the plate. Byrd received his MRI on his left knee on Tuesday just after Young. His wheels looked fine, though, as he rounded the bases for a triple and the game's first extra-base hit. "I can still run," Byrd said. "There's a little pain, but running's the easy part." Like Young, he also put up quite a battle against Tigers closer Fernando Rodney. Before putting his triple in play, he fought off four straight pitches. "Rodney was coming at me 97 mph," Byrd said. "I didn't really know how I was going to hit his fastball, so I kept trying to foul it off. I finally just stuck my bat out and put it in right field." To top off Young and Byrd's nights, they both learned their MRI results came back clear on Tuesday night. "I couldn't have asked for anything better," Young said. "My wrist was clean and my finger has some inflammation in it, but nothing different than what was bothering me before." Byrd's triple also extended his hitting streak to nine games. During that span, he's hitting .371, raising his average from .289 to .297 -- a far cry from his six-game hitless streak to begin the season and .200 average on June 1. "To be honest, Marlon was a slow starter last year," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You have to understand, he's a fighter and he doesn't quit. Nobody in this clubhouse quits, and when you keep fighting, good things happen." And there's a simple explanation for why Byrd and Young still are fighting with the playoffs far beyond their reach. "We lead by example," Byrd said. Another standup guy in the Rangers clubhouse put together a solid start that was nearly overshadowed by the ninth-inning comeback. Kevin Millwood gave the Rangers seven much-needed innings the night after Brandon McCarthy went just two-thirds of an inning, forcing the bullpen to pitch the final 8 1/3. Millwood had a hiccup in the first inning. He issued a walk and allowed two hits, which gave the Tigers an early 1-0 lead, but he settled in for the next five innings. After striking out Joyce to end the first frame, Millwood went on to retire 15 straight Tigers from the second to the sixth inning. Including the strikeout of Joyce, six of his 16 straight outs were strikeouts, which accounted for his total on the night. "I felt good," Millwood said. "Early on I struggled with location, but I figured it out and started making better pitches." Not even a 10-pitch at-bat against Miguel Cabrera in the top of the fourth could derail Millwood. After Cabrera fouled off five straight pitches, Millwood finally got him to ground out. Millwood then struck out Joyce a second time to end the inning. But Millwood finally began to falter in the seventh inning. He allowed three more singles and walked a batter as the Tigers pulled ahead, 4-2. He didn't come out for the eighth inning. "I just left it over the middle of the plate, and they're big league hitters," Millwood said. "They did what they were supposed to do with pitches over the plate." But Kameron Loe and Jamey Wright pitched a shutout inning apiece to give the Rangers hope. Millwood wasn't too surprised when the offense mounted its comeback two innings after his departure. "It's like we get used to it," Millwood said. "These guys never quit."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.