Rangers Take Sole Possession of First Place

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Sep 15, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland (18) and his teammates celebrate his game winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Rangers won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

126. Final. 5. 135. 6

The Texas Rangers (77-67) are in sole possession of first place, defeating the Houston Astros (77-68) 6-5 on a walk off win. I can’t believe I just typed that, and I am absolutely giddy with excitement. Shawn Tolleson (6-3, 2.71 ERA) gets the win for the Rangers, and Oliver Perez (0-2, 3.96 ERA) takes the loss for the Astros.

Derek Holland (3-2, 3.77 ERA) started the game for the Rangers tonight, and Holland struggled for the second start in a row. Holland pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing ten hits and five earned runs. The Astros are incredibly strike out prone, but Holland was only able to strike out one while walking two. His 106 pitches were incredibly high for pitching just 5 2/3 innings, and you would love to see him get back on track in the future.

The Rangers bullpen, yes the bullpen, came to the rescue again tonight, something you couldn’t have dreamed about earlier in the year. They have turned it around and turned it around in the most crucial of moments. Ross Ohlendorf pitched 2/3 of an inning, retiring both batters he faced, including a strikeout of Evan Gattis. Sam Freeman then came in and pitched a sparkling inning of work, striking out two and keeping the Astros off-balance. Sam Dyson followed and threw absolute gas in the eight inning, pitching 2/3 of an inning and turning it over to Shawn Tolleson. Tolleson did exactly what he needed to do, facing the minimum in his one innings of work.

Collin McHugh (16-7, 4.05 ERA) was roughed up by the Rangers this evening, and he lasted just 3 2/3 innings before getting yanked. He gave up five earned runs, surrendering eight hits while striking out four and walking three. He gave way to the Astros bullpen that did a good job of keeping the Astros in it, pitching 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before the Rangers got to them in the ninth.

The veterans in this lineup are going to carry the Rangers into the postseason, and they did more than their fair share tonight. Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre lead the way for the Rangers offense tonight, providing a serious threat in the middle of that Rangers lineup. Prince Fielder went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI, and a walk. His biggest hit obviously came to start the ninth, as he lined a 2-2 pitch into left field from Oliver Perez. Adrian Beltre went 4-for-5 for the Rangers tonight, with a run scored and an RBI as well. He, like Fielder, had his biggest hit of the night come in the ninth innings, when he lined a one into left center field. Drew Stubbs, who pinch ran for Fielder, advance to third on the hit. Mitch Moreland then lifted a line drive to center field, scoring Stubbs from third and giving the Rangers the victory.

I think it goes without saying on just how big this win is for the Rangers. They have overtaken first place in the AL West, a position that promises them a five game series. The Rangers obviously have a little ways to go to bring it home, but the Rangers have to like where they stand. They are playing the best baseball out of anyone in the AL West, and they will look to continue their recent success tomorrow.

The Rangers will turn to struggling starter Martin Perez (2-5, 5.43 ERA) as he looks to get back on track and guarantee a series win for the Rangers. The Rangers better be ready for a tough one, because the Astros will turn to staff ace Dallas Keuchel (17-7. 2.22 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from Globe Life Park in Arlington. You can watch the Rangers game live locally on Fox Sports Southwest, or watch on any connected device with an Mlb.tv subscription.

Next: How the Rangers are Making September Fun Again

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