While many were quick to write off the Texas Rangers, they aren't ready to lay down just yet.
The Rangers try to build on their first win in over a week Wednesday night when they continue a critical four-game road set against the fellow wild card-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Texas (82-68) had been limited to 20 runs during a season-worst seven-game losing streak before breaking out in Tuesday's 7-1 victory. Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin homered and drove in all seven runs as the Rangers pulled even with Tampa Bay (82-68) atop the wild-card standings.
"You've got to have a sense of relief when you lose seven in a row and you know you're a better team than that," said manager Ron Washington, whose club improved to 3-12 this month. "We just kept grinding and good things began to happen for us."
Kinsler's leadoff shot gave Texas its first lead since beating the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 on Sept. 8.
"Obviously we've been fighting from behind a lot in this last week," he said, "so to be able to get a first hit out of the way, and a first run out of the way ... given the circumstances, it's a big win."
The Rays had won four of five by a 24-11 margin before managing four hits Tuesday.
"I'm not anticipating us just to go out there and be Minnesota Fats (and run the table)," manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't see it, so it's just going to be back and forth. You've got to deal with it. Keep coming and prepare for it."
Tampa Bay now turns to rookie Chris Archer (9-7, 3.03 ERA), who had posted an 8.22 ERA in losing back-to-back starts spanning a combined 7 2-3 innings before bouncing back Friday at Minnesota. The right-hander struck out seven over six innings of three-hit ball in a 3-0 win.
"He pretty much had his way," Maddon said. "I just want to really eye him up, because our intent is to play well into October, and I want to make sure that he's well."
Archer, who was removed after 87 pitches, hasn't thrown more than 92 in any of his last four outings.
"I still feel mentally and physically there," he said. "But I have an understanding of the big picture and maybe saving a couple extra innings, just in case if we do make that magical playoff run."
Archer is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last three home starts. He allowed two runs and struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings in a 4-2, 10-inning loss to Texas on Sept. 8, 2012, his only appearance in the series.
The Rangers, meanwhile, hope to see Derek Holland (9-9, 3.49) recapture his form. The left-hander, who has compiled a 10.13 ERA during a season-worst three-start losing streak, surrendered six runs over three-plus innings Friday in a 9-8 defeat to Oakland.
"This was just horrendous. I was missing too much in the plate, I'm up in the zone. I haven't done my job. It's embarrassing," he told MLB's official website following his shortest outing of the year. "I need to do a way better job than that."
Holland is 0-1 despite a 1.69 ERA in his last two starts versus Tampa Bay. Evan Longoria is 9 for 24 with three homers and four doubles in their matchups.
Holland will get his first look at Wil Myers, who is 11 for 27 with two homers, five doubles and seven RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
The Associated Press News Service
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