Proof Of Life! Texas Rangers Show Championship Grit Against Mighty Los Angeles Dodgers

The Texas Rangers show some championship moxy with two gutty wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers after getting 'pummeled' in the series opener.
Jun 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Texas Rangers relief pitcher Kirby Yates (39) reacts after the final out of the ninth inning to earn a save against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Kirby Yates (39) reacts after the final out of the ninth inning to earn a save against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The undermanned, banged-up defending World Series champions showed some title-taking moxy this week at Dodgers Stadium.

Even if they didn't need it, the Texas Rangers reminded themselves of the ballclub they expect to be in 2024 after rallying to take two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a 3-1 gem Thursday night.

The Rangers' uneven, injury-riddled first two months have given scarce indication that they're a serious candidate to return to the World Series, and after a 15-2 thumping by the National League favorite Dodgers, the rest of the week looked bleak.

The Rangers, however, stymied the Dodgers' powerful lineup with another stellar start from Michael Lorenzen and a boffo performance by the bullpen, especially David Robertson and Kirby Yates. For the second straight night, Robertson struck out Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, and Freddie Freeman in order (this time with two runners on) in the eighth, and Yates closed it out with a save in the ninth.

"What a gutty effort, [Robertson] and Yates both, to get in the jam like that with the heart or their order, that's impressive," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said.

Robertson put himself "in a pickle" after the first two batters he faced Thursday reached base on a hit-by-pitch and single. That brought up the top of the Dodgers order with no outs and the tying runs on base in the eighth.

"He just nailed the location, he just regrouped and made some tremendous pitches which you have to do to those guys," Bochy said. "Well-played game. It started with Michael [Lorenzen]. He was on top of his game with a solid effort. He gave us what we needed."

With Corey Seager out of the lineup again with hamstring issues, the Rangers offense scored twice in the first inning with three singles.

"Guys did a great job of just finding ways to get runs across the board there and we were hoping for more than three, but our pitching held up and just did a terrific job against a really good-hitting ball club. To come in here and take a series, It's good for them. It should do a lot for them."

The Rangers roster is filled with experienced veterans who don't need their hands held through rough stretches. But baseball is a humbling game, and the series serves as a reminder — necessary or not — that the Rangers are a better club than their 33-35 record headed into a showdown against the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners starting at 9:10 p.m. Friday.

"It's all about bouncing back. You've got to move on. We got pummeled in the first game; there's no getting around it. What could go wrong, went wrong in that game," Bochy said. "They put it behind them. That's what you have to do in this game. It's not easy to win here against this club. They got to see that if we play our game, we can play with anybody. That's who they are. They bounced back all year last year and have at times this year. We're going to play a really good [Mariners] ballclub with good pitching, so we need to continue to play like this."

Jun 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Texas Rangers relief pitcher David Robertson (37) reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts (50), designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) and first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher David Robertson (37) reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts (50), designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) and first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Stefan Stevenson

STEFAN STEVENSON

Stefan Stevenson worked as a journalist and editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 25 years, covering sports, concerts, and general news. His beats have included the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers, and Texas Christian University football.