Each of the teams the Rangers play during the road trip had a winning record last year, so they knew the games would be difficult.
But on Wednesday night, despite needing 14 innings, the Rangers pulled out a victory, beating the Blue Jays, 7-5. Texas blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning but took advantage of a wild pitch from Toronto's A.J. Burnett in the 14th inning to earn a win that ended its losing streak and started the road trip in the best way possible.
"I think we got the monkey off our back," said manager Ron Washington. "We certainly showed a lot of fight and some character tonight. After we lost that 5-2 lead and all the missed opportunities we had, we could have easily given in. But the guys kept fighting, and we pulled it out. It's a nice win. A very nice win."
The Rangers had plenty of opportunities to win before pulling it out in the 14th. They were leading by three runs entering the bottom of the eighth when reliever Joaquin Benoit came in to face the heart of the Jays lineup. After loading the bases and walking in a run, Benoit induced what might have been an inning-ending double-play ground ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Joe Inglett. First baseman Ben Broussard scooped the ball cleanly, but his wild throw to second base landed in the outfield, allowing two runs to score, and the Jays tied the game at 5.
Texas also had trouble cashing in off the nine Blue Jays pitchers used in the game. In total, the Rangers left 19 men on base. This included a stretch between the seventh and 14th innings in which Rangers hitters managed only one hit in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
In the 11th, Texas loaded the bases with none out but didn't score, as Jays rookie Jesse Carlson struck out Adam Melhuse, Marlon Byrd and David Murphy in order to end the threat. It was the first time in 48 years that a pitcher entered a game in extras with no outs and the bases loaded and struck out the side.
"We struggled with runners in scoring position, but we got the runs in when they counted," Washington said. "You just gotta keep battling. We keep getting [runners on base]. If you say we struggle with runners in scoring position, that means were getting them out there, and that's a good thing."
The Rangers had gained a two-run lead in the sixth inning when Jason Botts hit a scorching line-drive double to the right-center-field gap off Jays reliever Brian Tallet that scored two runs. Botts also contributed to the scoring in the fourth inning, when he sent an 0-1 pitch from Jays starter Jesse Litsch over the right-field wall for a towering solo home run. An eighth-inning home run by Frank Catalanotto increased the Rangers' lead to three runs, but after the Jays tied the game in the same inning, Texas was held scoreless until Catalanotto scored on Burnett's wild pitch.
"I was ready for [a wild pitch], and once the ball got by the catcher, I knew I had a chance to score," said Catalanotto. "[Burnett] throws a pretty nasty curveball, so you [have to] be ready at all times when he's on the mound."
Catcher Gerald Laird, who caught all 14 innings, said that getting the win was especially nice given that it to took so long to achieve.
"This was a win I think we needed," Laird said. "It's one of those wins where if you lose, it's like 'Oh, God.' But we won, and its a good feeling."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.