Mike Olt has had a tough start to the Major Leagues. But one thing he has been able to do is get the key hit when given the opportunity and tonight was no different. It was a low-scoring, well played game of baseball on both sides and the rookie who many were upset wasn’t traded at the Trade Deadline, came through with the biggest hit of the game for a win that gives the Rangers a chance to go for the series win tomorrow afternoon.
Derek Holland was in tough against Justin Verlander tonight and it didn’t start well – Holland gave up a lead off homerun to Austin Jackson but then settled down in what was probably his best start of the year even though he only had a no decision to show for it but against Verlander, that may be as good as a win. Holland pitched 7.2 innings allowing only two hits after the Jackson homerun and struck out nine, walking one. That is exactly what the Rangers need from Holland as the season goes forward. The ability for him to bounce back and then just shut down a potent Tigers offense.
Ron Washington didn’t want to make the same mistake he made yesterday when he left a starting pitcher in too long. In the eighth inning, he went to Ogando who shut the door and then, in the ninth inning brought in Robbie Ross to pitch to Prince Fielder. Ross walked fielder and forced Mike Adams to work out of a jam which he did very well and allowed for Olt’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The ninth inning was the bottom of the order working a run, which is also something the Rangers will need to be successful. The depth you see when a team is able to do that is the same thing that allows teams to successful in October. David Freese wasn’t a star before last year’s playoffs. Someone always steps up. When Nelson Cruz and Michael Young drew walks against Brayan Villarreal, Craig Gentry failed to get a sacrifice bunt down which was one of the first times he failed to step up in a big spot and then Geovany Soto struck out. Then, Olt was able to provide yet another big hit in his young Major League career and the first walk-off.
The fact that the Rangers were able to get a win in a game Verlander started is huge. The fact that they were able to have Holland go pitch-for-pitch with him was great and allowed their offense the time it needed to get the winning run on the board.