Hernández, Montero Slam the Door to Secure Rangers' Critical Win Over Angels
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers finally got some breaks and came out on top of their AL West rival Los Angeles Angels by a score of 4-3 on Friday night at Globe Life Field.
The Rangers are now 4-8 on the season. It's still relatively early in the season, but this was a much needed win.
The Rangers created their own chances on the basepaths throughout the night. It didn't come without risk, as both Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Shin-Soo Choo were both caught stealing after beating the throw to second base, but over-slid the bag.
However, the Rangers' aggressive style was a key factor in the 4th inning when Angels starter Griffin Canning compounded on his control issues. With the bases loaded, Canning attempted to pick off Robinson Chirinos at second base, but his errant throw skipped into the outfield, allowing the tying run to score.
It was a pleasant sight for the Rangers to see the majority of breaks finally go their way.
"We put pressure on our guys," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "We didn’t get a ton of hits but we put a lot of pressure on the pitcher. He walked a bunch of guys, we made him throw the ball over the plate. Canning is a good pitcher, he obviously made a few mistakes, tried to pick a guy off, gave us a few freebies but a lot of it had to do with the resiliency of the at-bats."
The story of the night came out of the bullpen. And this time, it finally had a happy ending.
After Ian Gibaut got into a bit of trouble in the seventh inning, clinging to a 4-3 lead, Jonathan Hernández came in to try and get the final out of the inning with two Angels on base. He walked Anthony Rendon to load the bases, but got Tommy La Stella to pop out to Todd Frazier to escape the jam.
Hernández rebounded quickly with a dominant eighth inning, striking out the side without a whimper. Rafael Montero, who was activated earlier on Friday, came in a slammed the door by getting Brian Goodwin to groundout and struck out David Fletcher and Mike Trout to earn his first career save.
"First two batters, (Hernández) didn't look too good in that seventh inning, but comes back and makes a pitch 3-2," Woodward said. "The game could have changed right there. He ended up getting LaStella there, then comes back out and strikes out the side. So there were a lot of key moments for a lot of our younger guys to get through. And hopefully we can build off of that for the next time."
Woodward would have liked to have Montero make his 2020 debut in a lesser spot, but he warned him before the game he might get thrown right into the fire right away. Montero did good things for the Rangers in 2019 and they need relievers to perform and close out games.
"That was really cool to see. (It was) a lot of what we saw last year," Woodward said. "The command, the ability to throw pitches when he needed to. The sinker he threw to [Mike] Trout was pretty new, something he had been working on. He has a pretty good repertoire of pitches right now."
It's hard to say the twelfth game of the season is a must-win, but the Rangers really needed a win to get that horrid road trip out of their minds. The bullpen holding the lead for 3 2/3 innings is also a huge boost to a group that also needed something to finally go right.
"It’s huge," Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. "Anytime you can swing momentum upward, it’s a big deal, especially coming off that road trip, coming home and being comfortable means a lot."