The Texas Rangers lost 95 games and finished in last place in 2014. They lost ace Yu Darvish for this season when he underwent Tommy John surgery. And they were two games under .500 and eight games back on Aug. 2. Yet they not only rallied to win the AL West, they also won the first game of their division series 5-3 over the heavily favored Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
The victory came at a price: Third baseman Adrian Beltre was forced to leave in the third inning with a back injury so painful that he had tears in his eyes when he left the field. Just how high a price that injury was will not be fully known until the Rangers determine when he can return to play.
In the meantime, the rest of the Rangers more than compensated by beating up Cy Young candidate David Price. Texas scored five runs off Price, with Robinson Chirinos hitting a two-run home run in the fifth and Rougned Odor adding a solo homer in the seventh.
That was enough for Texas starter Yovani Gallardo and the Texas bullpen, who held baseball's most powerful offense to three runs.
Gallardo limited the Blue Jays to two runs in five innings. Keone Kela gave up a long home run to the first batter he faced in the sixth, then gave up a long fly ball on his next pitch that landed just a few feet foul of a home run but recovered to get out of the inning. Jake Diekman and Sam Dyson closed out Toronto the rest of the way.
Thumbs up: Odor had a big day at the plate and on the bases by scoring three runs his first three plate appearances. He was hit by a pitch his first two plate appearances, then paid back Price by lining a home run to right in the seventh inning. He also made several excellent plays in the field.
Thumbs down: Prince Fielder continued his postseason struggles that date to the 2012 ALCS. Fielder went hitless in three at-bats, extending his streak to 71 consecutive postseason at-bats without an RBI. Worse, he grounded into the first-inning double play that injured Beltre.
What's next: The Rangers will start the pitcher whose trade-deadline acquisition was crucial to Texas winning the West. Cole Hamels went 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA after coming to Texas.