After dropping Game 1 to the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers took the field in Arlington on Saturday staring down the possibility of falling into an 0-2 hole. But the Rangers rose to meet the challenge, shaking off Friday's shutout loss to even the series with an 8-6 win.
Just like Friday night, the Baseball Nation staff live-blogged the game. If you missed it, here's a few of the highlights.
In the first inning, it looked like more of the same for the Rangers. Starter Derek Holland worked himself into a bases loaded jam before walking home a run. After the early trouble, Holland settled himself, getting out of the inning with only a flesh wound as the Rays took an early 2-0 lead.
After a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux, though, Holland got Sean Rodriguez to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice, and disaster averted. Holland and catcher Mike Napoli seemed to be on different pages through much of the inning, and Holland threw 29 pitches.
In the bottom half of the inning, Texas probably should have made up the deficit and then some, if not for a superb play by Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist. Elvis Andrus his a liner toward right, but Zobrist made a heck of a play to clear the bases.
Except Andrus's liner didn't reach right field, because second baseman Ben Zobrist snagged the ball in the outer bit of his glove's webbing. Worse (for the Rangers), Kinsler assumed Zobrist couldn't make the play and was easily doubled off first. What should (by all right) have been two on and nobody out became, faster than you can say Jack Robinson, two out and nobody on.
The Rays escaped unharmed, and after a scoreless first, Tampa Bay headed back to the dish and took advantage of Holland's shaky control. With one on and two out, Matt Joyce tagged Holland, giving his Rays a 3-0 lead.
Holland should have been out of the inning. Instead he threw a bunch of breaking balls out of the zone to All-Star Matt Joyce, fell behind in the count, and threw a fastball down the pipe that Joyce destroyed for a two-run home run off the facade of the upper deck in right field.
Considering how Friday went, one would think Texas was all but dead at this point. But not so: the Rangers scored their first runs of the series in the fourth as James Shields got a little wild for Tampa Bay. Five runs later, Texas had the lead, and the pendulum was swinging in Rangers' favor.
Alexi Ogando came on in relief of Holland in the fifth -- a luxury for Ron Washington as Rob Neyer explained -- and the Rays bats were suddenly silent. Texas' bats, however, were not. Shields left the game in the sixth, Jake McGee took over and the Rangers kept piling on. Interestingly enough, McGee plunked a batter, which is notable for the reasons Neyer explained below.
McGee's first batter was pinch-hitter Craig Gentry, who moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. McGee's second batter was Mitch Moreland, who took a fastball in the middle of the back. This was notable for a couple of reasons: 1) it loaded the bases, and 2) it was the first time in 2011 that McGee had plunked a batter.
But that was as close as the Rays would get, with the Rangers tacking on one more run and closing out the game for an 8-6 win. Tampa Bay heads back to the Trop with the series tied at one, but lost out on a chance to put the Rangers in an 0-2 hole.