Matched up against their division rivals, Hank Blalock scraped back from an 0-2 hole in the 8th inning against Oakland closer Huston Street to loop a single into right field for the go ahead runs on Sunday in Arlington.
Sammy Sosa fought through a chorus of catcalls in the Windy City and put together a nice series against the White Sox. Over the three game set, Sosa finished with four hits, two homeruns, and three runs batted in. He also worked a walk and was the lone base runner in Mark Buehrle's no-hitter on Wednesday night (although he was promptly picked off first).
On Saturday night with the Rangers holding on to a slim 1-0 lead, C.J. Wilson came into the game facing a two on, one out situation. After a walk to Nick Swisher that loaded up the sacks with Oakland runners, Wilson struck out clean-up hitter Eric Chavez. Then, he followed that up with a fist-pumping wave and a miss for strike three to Milton Bradley to get out of the inning and preserve the Rangers lead.
Willie Eyre, recently called up from Triple-A Oklahoma, came into the game following another great Robinson Tejeda outing on Sunday to throw an inning and two thirds of scoreless relief. He also managed to barehand a high chopper hit back to him by Bobby Crosby and fired a one-hopper to first that Mark Teixeira snagged, easily the biggest play of the game defensively for the Rangers.
Eric Gagne was unable to finish off the first save in his new home ballpark on Sunday afternoon after crumpling to the ground following a pitch to A's second baseman Mark Ellis. He limped off the mound with the aid of trainer Jamie Reed, the victim of an apparent strained hip. Fortunately, the injury isn't considered serious and Gagne is only day-to-day.
Friday night's starter Brandon McCarthy was the first in a line of pitchers that left that night's affair against the Athletics feeling very shell-shocked. He recorded the shortest outing of his major league career, lasting only an inning against the A's. After six runs and six hits, his earned run average now stands above 10.00. Oakland batters thumped the Rangers pitching staff to the tune of 16 runs on 13 hits that night.
Being a part of baseball history is something special. Unless, that is, you're the team that just got no-hit.
The righty put up two extremely impressive starts this past week, although he was only able to pick up the victory in one of them. On Wednesday, Tejeda shook off a solo homerun in the fourth inning by Jim Thome to retire the White Sox in order the following inning and retired nine of the next 11 guys he faced before exiting the game. Sunday, he looked untouchable through the first three innings allowing just one hit while striking out three. A bad pitch in the fifth led to a two-run homer that just made it over the left field wall, but Tejeda pitched well enough to keep the Rangers within striking distance all afternoon. He threw 106 pitches over his 6.1 innings of work, 77 of which were strikes.
Sunday, April 22: Rangers 4 - A's 3
With a division as wide open as the American League West, every game is a key ballgame regardless of what the calendar reads. This particular division matchup had all the makings of a heavyweight title bought between Robinson Tejeda and Oakland starter Chad Gaudin. Tejeda, who finished with six strikeouts, had a practically flawless afternoon were it not for a fat 0-2 fastball that A's right fielder Shannon Stewart turned on to drive out of the park. Gaudin, on the other hand, was able to hold the Rangers to just one run and four hits over his six innings of work before his usually sure-handed bullpen squandered his lead away. In the eighth inning, a mostly overcast day turned into a sun-drenched afternoon just in time for Hank Blalock to deposit an 0-2 pitch into right field to put the Rangers ahead for good.