Role players deliver pivotal HRs in win over Blue Jays
By Dave Sessions
Special to MLB.com |
ARLINGTON -- On March 29, the Rangers gave Bobby Wilson and Drew Stubbs their walking papers, and a little more than six weeks later, they gave the Rangers a walk-off win.
Stubbs, who hit the game-winning homer in a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday, was released by the Rangers when he didn't make the Major League club out of Spring Training and declined an assignment to Triple-A.
"We didn't really want to lose them out of Spring Training," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But obviously you've seen what Wilson has done for us, an immediate impact with how he's swung the bat, how he's caught, how he's directed traffic, if you will, behind the plate. He's been that quarterback for these pitchers and has done a great job for us.
"In Stubbs' case, we've seen he got a big hit the other night, plus the baserunning, a giant home run for us tonight, something that we needed against that club."
Baseball can be a game of instant separations and quick reunions, and no one knows better than those two, who both finished last season with the Rangers and began Spring Training with the club only to be jettisoned at the end of camp. They briefly caught on with other teams before injuries to catcher Robinson Chirinos and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo opened the door for both players to return.
The Rangers got Wilson back in a trade on May 3, the same day Stubbs was released by the Braves, who had signed him after Texas let him go. Four days later, the Rangers signed Stubbs. Now, both have made a significant impact on their former-turned-current team the past two weeks. Stubbs used his elite speed to tag up on a shallow fly ball last Sunday in a game the Rangers won in Detroit, where Wilson hit his first homer of the season -- also a grand slam.
Saturday, Wilson hit a second-inning grand slam that gave the Rangers the lead until closer Shawn Tolleson struggled in the ninth and the Blue Jays tied it up. The Rangers went scoreless in the bottom of the ninth, but Stubbs got his first at-bat in the 10th after pinch-running for Mitch Moreland in the eighth.
Stubbs crushed a 1-2 pitch to left field for his fourth career walk-off homer.
"You've just got to be prepared for anything," Stubbs said. "Any way that you can help, is what I aim to do. … You kind of float around the bases knowing that your team's waiting for you at home plate and you just ended it. Regardless of how many times I've done it or will do it in the future, it never gets old."
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.