Ivan inspiration? Spirits high for rising Rangers

Texas celebrates Pudge, then wins third straight to keep AL Wild Card hopes simmering

Ivan inspiration? Spirits high for rising Rangers

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers honored Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez by wearing their throwback 1999 jerseys on Saturday night. That team went to the postseason, and the 2017 edition is still stubbornly clinging to the idea that can happen again this year.

The bewildering American League Wild Card race will make believers out of almost any team, but the Rangers' confidence is on the rise again after they won their second straight over the Astros with an 8-3 victory at Globe Life Park.

The win came on a night when a sellout crowd of 47,306 showed up early to see the Rangers retire Rodriguez's No. 7 jersey. The victory over the Astros made the night a complete triumph.

Magnificent 7: Rangers retire Pudge's jersey

"What an incredible night, the electricity in the air," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We get to honor a Hall of Famer, a player beloved in this community. Our players really took to it because they love Pudge. He is incredible in our clubhouse around the guys. He gave us such inspiration tonight. For our guys to go out and play the way they did ... I felt our guys played a tremendous baseball game."

The win was the Rangers' third straight, but the importance was magnified because of the pregame ceremonies.

"Really special moment tonight," said Matt Bush, whose 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief proved crucial to the Rangers holding off the Astros and starter Tyson Ross getting the win coming off the disabled list.

Bush escapes a jam in the 6th

"For me personally, I'm glad I was able to be here to witness that and be part of that," Mike Napoli said. "There's something cool about seeing Pudge out there and talking to the fans. He's done so much for the game, accomplished so much as an individual, it's special."

The Rangers, taking advantage of an Astros team that has lost five straight and 12 of their last 16 games, are now 2 1/2 games behind the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Yankees lead the race, and then there are seven teams within two games of each other in the loss column.

The Rangers are one of them, even though they are still three games under .500.

"I've said it before, these guys aren't going anywhere," Banister said. "You see their heart, their resiliency, their grit, you saw it show up in these two games [against the Astros]. They know exactly what they want to do. We made it tough on ourselves, however there is still baseball yet to be played. They are going to continue to play hard."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.