Rangers cash in on error to win in 10th

Rangers cash in on error to win in 10th

CLEVELAND -- Doug Mathis will soon be on his way back to the Minor Leagues, and who knows when he'll be back again. C.C. Sabathia is still in the Indians' rotation, he'll be a free agent after the season and he could be getting a big payday over the winter.

These two may never face off again.

But on a cool, sunny afternoon at Progressive Field, it was Rangers Rookie Pitcher 1, Indians American league Cy Young Award Winner 0, even if neither were involved in the decision.

Both were long gone by the 10th inning on Sunday, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored from first base on Ramon Vazquez's single and right fielder Ben Francisco's error to give the Rangers a 2-1 victory over the Indians.

But there's also no doubt that one of the biggest keys to this victory for the Rangers was Mathis, in his second Major League start, matching Sabathia pitch for pitch for much of the afternoon.

"That was huge," shortstop Michael Young said. "C.C. was throwing the ball extremely well and being himself. But Doug really settled down, battled him pitch for pitch and gave us an opportunity to make two runs stand up for the afternoon."

In doing so, the Rangers were able to take two of three from the Indians in a series in which they pitched Kason Gabbard, Scott Feldman and Mathis against Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee and Sabathia.

"It feels good when you win two of three against their top three guys like that," said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who hit a game-tying home run in the sixth inning. "We swung the bats well this weekend. Obviously, C.C. got after us pretty good and really pounded the strike zone, but Doug pitched a heck of a game to match him."

The Rangers are now 7-0-1 in their last eight series and have won 19 of their last 29 to move back to .500 on the season. Their pitching staff has a 4.12 ERA after the combined efforts of Mathis and relievers Frank Francisco, Jamey Wright and C.J. Wilson on Sunday.

Wright picked up the victory with two scoreless innings and Wilson picked up his 10th save. Wilson's looked quite sharp in his last two opportunities this week since a heart-to-heart chat with pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Dom Chiti after a blown save in Minnesota.

"I did have to make a mechanical adjustment," Wilson said. "Like I was saying a couple of weeks ago, there was a solution and I was looking for it. The coaches helped me out, and it has worked out."

Mathis also needed to make some adjustments after his last outing in Minnesota. He made his first Major League start on Tuesday and allowed nine runs in 2 1/3 innings. Sunday's start didn't begin much better.

"C.C. was throwing the ball extremely well and being himself. But Doug really settled down and battled him pitch for pitch and gave us an opportunity to make two runs stand up for the afternoon."
-- Michael Young

The Indians scored one in the first on a double by Francisco and singles by Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez, then loaded the bases in the second with a walk to David Dellucci, Casey Blake's single and a one-out walk to Grady Sizemore after Asdrubal Cabrera bunted the runners over.

Francisco followed with a little bouncer just to the left of the mound. Mathis pounced on it with his bare hand and was able to get the force out at home.

"I made that harder than I should have, but I wanted to get the guy out at home," Mathis said. "I asked some guys if I needed to barehand that and they said, 'Probably not.'"

Mathis then retired Hafner on a fly to right to end the threat and followed that up with four more scoreless innings before turning it over to Francisco.

"I was a lot more under control today," Mathis said. "Even early in those jams, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I slowed myself down and made quality pitches rather than being too anxious and rushing the ball."

Sabathia started the day with five scoreless innings, working out of a couple jams when Rangers baserunners ended some threats by inexplicably getting doubled off base. But Kinsler's home run leading off the sixth tied the game, and this one turned from a pitchers' duel between starters to a battle of bullpens. The Rangers ultimately won because after the first-inning singles by Hafner and Martinez, their pitchers held the Indians hitless in 12 straight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The Rangers were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, but they got the big break they needed to bypass that. Saltalamacchia set it up by working a 10-pitch walk off of reliever Masa Kobayashi with two outs in the 10th.

"That was a great at-bat," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Salty kept fighting him."

Ramon Vazquez then lined a single to right. Francisco went down on one knee to stop the ball, but it skipped right through him, rolling all the way to the wall. Saltalamacchia raced all the way around to score the go-ahead run.

"All I know is I smoked it good," Vazquez said. "I don't know what it did out there, but I'll take it, especially against them."

It gave the Rangers a victory on the day they sent out a rookie to face a Cy Young Award winner.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.