They were running out of “just need a win” opportunities and they were running out of pitching to get that win, but with the lineup that has carried them all year, the Rangers went to work tonight to wear Seattle ace Luis Castillo down until they finally broke through with the clutch hits required to secure a spot in October for the first time since 2016.
After a classic 2023 blown save loss in the opener, and a debacle on Friday night, the Rangers came out and put their home run seeking ways on the backburner and returned to grinding as they made Castillo throw 86 pitches before getting out of the 3rd inning — something he would not accomplish.
It was the shortest outing of the season for Castillo and when he left, it was 4-0 Rangers after they worked five walks and got a trio of massive two-out RBI singles. It was exactly the kind of hits with RISP that had eluded them this whole road trip. Indeed, Texas didn’t have an extra base hit until an 8th inning double that brought home Evan Carter for a little extra insurance and didn’t even up going deep for any of their six runs.
Ironically, with the matchup looking so dire, with Andrew Heaney recalled from the bullpen to make a spot start in Jon Gray’s stead, the oft-maligned and depleted staff helped in the clincher by throwing zeroes all night aside from one mistake pitch.
Even if you don’t count Heaney as a member of the bullpen to chalk this up as a full bullpen game, the the pitchers that relieved Heaney tossed 4 2⁄3 innings while miraculously allowing just one solo home run to their ledger when Texas needed them most.
The victory gives the Rangers their 90th of the season and while that is a mark that it seemed like Texas would clear weeks ago, it is enough to punch their ticket to the American League playoffs which is a remarkable feat for a club that has fought ghosts and injuries to climb back up from an organizational low of the last half decade to get to this place again.
Next on the docket: Finishing off claiming this weird, wild division.
Player of the Game: Heaney will miss a guaranteed $20 million dollar player option that would have exercised with 150 innings this season by 2 2⁄3 innings. But the Rangers might oughta pay him anyway for his outing tonight.
With the evening’s starter listed as TBA less than 24 hours ago, and Texas desperate for a win, Heaney was called upon after weeks in the bullpen and gave the team 4 1⁄3 shutout innings as the bats were slowly getting the better of Castillo.
Up Next: The Rangers will close out the regular season with some business still to attend to and a starter still to be named. Meanwhile, the Mariners will send RHP George Kirby to the mound.
The Sunday afternoon season finale from T-Mobile Park is scheduled for 2:10 pm CT and will carried on BS Southwest.