ARLINGTON -- Coming off arguably their most thrilling victory this season, the Rangers were able to do something Thursday they had not done since the All-Star break -- win two straight games.More important, the Rangers split a four-game series with the Angels and extended their lead in the American League West to five games.
After the Angels took a 7-1 lead in the third inning Wednesday night, it seemed as if they would cut the Rangers' division lead to two games, what would have been their slimmest lead since April 13. But Ian Kinsler sent the game to extra innings with a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and Elvis Andrus won it with a walk-off, two-run single in the 10th.
That win, coupled with the 15-9 victory on Thursday night, was an encouraging start to August after the Rangers went 9-14 and scored a Major League-worst 81 runs in July."We got angry and got back to being ourselves," Andrus said. "It's not just about yesterday. The past four or five games, actually, we've been hitting the ball better. Guys are having more quality at-bats. Nelson [Cruz], [David] Murphy, and [Mike] Napoli are swinging the bat extremely well. Those are the guys that we need. They were key last year for us." The last time the Rangers won games on consecutive days were the two games before the All-Star break, when they recorded 4-3 walk-off, extra-inning victories over the Twins on July 7-8. That was only after losing the first five games of the month, which saw them win fewer games in any month in team history since May 2007, when the Rangers went 9-20. "It was a gut check [Wednesday] night," manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly showed some life on the offensive side. That's what's been missing. When you're down against a team like that, there's no expectations of coming back. We just had the attitude that we would not be denied and we were going to get it done. It's embarrassing when you're getting beat and you're better than them."
Olt opens career with hit in first at-bat for Texas
ARLINGTON -- Mike Olt made his Major League debut Thursday, starting at first base and batting eighth in Thursday's series finale against the Angels.The Rangers' No. 3 prospect didn't take long to get comfortable, singling in his first at-bat against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson in the second inning. He finished 1-for-3 in the Rangers' 15-9 win.
"It was something I'll never forget," Olt said. "It was definitely an experience I've worked hard for my whole entire career. It was a special moment to be out there with these guys."
Olt's manager at Double-A Frisco, Steve Buechele, told him that he was getting called up late Wednesday night. Olt's name was thrown out there during speculation about deals leading up to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
"I couldn't talk," Olt said. "To have JD [general manger Jon Daniels] and all of our guys trust me, it does mean a lot. That's going to help me settle in here and work hard. I just want to make sure I can live up to the expectations. I don't want to let anyone down. I just want to come here and contribute.""We wanted to give Mike a chance," Daniels said. "We feel like he's earned it. Both our scouts and development staff have recommended that he can help the club. He's a good athlete. He's a baseball player. He's smart and he puts the effort in." In 95 games at Frisco, Olt was batting .288 with a Texas League-best 28 home runs, 82 RBIs and a .579 slugging percentage, which also led the Texas League. Primarily a third baseman in the Minor Leagues, Olt, who will wear No. 9, will likely see more time at first base and designated hitter against left-handed starters. "I'm going to play him against lefties and sometimes when I bench [Adrian] Beltre, he'll play third against righties," manager Ron Washington said. "I saw him in Spring Training and I thought he handled [first base] well. He's going to be out of his natural position more often than he'll be at his natural position."
As walks mount, Darvish tries to clear his mind
ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish pitched well enough in the first half of the season to earn All-Star honors in his rookie season. Since then, he has struggled.Five of the first season-high six Angels he walked Wednesday scored, including four in the six-run third inning. Since going 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA before the All-Star break, Darvish has gone 1-2 with a 7.66 ERA in his last four starts, walking 17 batters in 24 2/3 innings. After the thrilling, 11-10 victory, Darvish admitted the fact that issuing that many walks recently has gotten to his head. "I'll try to maybe have that walk issue cleared out of my mind and not even think about it," Darvish said. "I'm just going to turn over a new leaf next outing and just clear my mind. I think I'm going to have to think differently from here on out and become a new pitcher, become a better pitcher." Darvish's 145 strikeouts ranked fourth in the American League entering Wednesday, but Ubaldo Jimenez is the AL's only pitcher that has walked more than the 70 Darvish has walked. The last time Darvish issued fewer than three walks in a game was in a June 26 win over the Tigers. "He has to make an adjustment off the style that he's been throwing with," manager Ron Washington said. "Then, he can get back to his style once he gets consistency throwing the ball in the strike zone. That's his style of pitching. I think what he's trying to do is not change who he is, but you have to make adjustments."
Heavy workload of late doesn't faze Texas bullpen
ARLINGTON -- Since Scott Feldman tossed eight scoreless innings in a win over the White Sox last Sunday, the Rangers' bullpen has had to carry a bigger load.Relievers tossed six innings combined in losses to the Angels on Monday and Tuesday before having to throw five in Wednesday's 11-10, 10-inning victory. Yu Darvish was forced out of the game after just five innings. With the Rangers trailing, 7-1, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers combined to throw four shutout innings before Joe Nathan gave up a pair of home runs in the 10th inning. "Joe's unreal," Ross said. "Obviously he hadn't done that in a while, but it happens. It's baseball. He's consistent. He might have gotten hit around like that, but we still ended up winning the game. He kept us there. He could have gone out there and given up four runs. Instead, he gives up three and we end up winning." Roy Oswalt, who was moved to the bullpen after the team acquired Ryan Dempster, will be available as a reliever. Everyone else in the bullpen except Mike Adams, who has not pitched in more than a week, has pitched in the last three days. Four pitchers, including Ross, who held the Angels scoreless over 1 2/3 innings Wednesday, have had multiple outings over that stretch. "It extends the bullpen," manager Ron Washington said of Ross' outing Wednesday. "You don't have to bring a guy in as a matchup because he can get both sides. It does extend the bullpen. If you could put the perfect bullpen together, you'd like to have multi-inning guys down there. In 1 2/3 innings, we could have burned three guys."
Reliever Mark Lowe, who has been on the disabled list since June 29 with a strained intercostal muscle, threw two scorelss innings for Double-A Frisco on Thursday night in the third game of his rehab assignment. He gave up one hit, struck out two and walked one while throwing 24 of his 39 pitches for strikes.
Triple-A third baseman Tommy Mendonca was moved to Double-A Frisco on Thursday. He was hitting .208 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. He struck out 84 times and drew nine walks in 63 games with Round Rock.
Joe Nathan became the fourth reliever in Rangers history to allow two homers and earn a victory Wednesday and the first since John Wetteland did it on May 22, 1998, against the Royals.
The Rangers, who surrendered six runs in the third inning Wednesday, have scored six runs in an inning eight times and given up six runs in an inning eight times. Both figures lead the Major Leagues.
Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.