ARLINGTON -- If the Indians and Rangers see each other again this season, it will be under the bright October lights with much more on the line. For now, Texas will have to settle for finishing a successful season series with the Tribe with a 2-1 victory on Sunday at Globe Life Park.
With the win, the American League West-leading Rangers took three of four in this set to wrap up a 5-2 showing against the AL Central's top team. In Sunday's finale, lefty Derek Holland led the way with six solid innings, left fielder Carlos Gomez made a pair of key catches and both Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy drove in runs.
"Up and down the lineup it was just a pitchers' duel all day," Lucroy said. "Not many mistakes were made on either side. This was a quality baseball game between two really, really good teams. We were fortunate to come out on top there. A little hectic in the ninth, but we scratched it out."
Holland ended with five strikeouts and four hits scattered, picking up his sixth win of the year. The Rangers increased their lead in the AL West to 8 1/2 games, thanks to losses from the Astros and the Mariners. Cleveland maintained its 4 1/2-game lead in the AL Central because the Tigers lost as well.
The Indians received an encouraging start from righty Danny Salazar, who pushed some recent woes aside with a 10-strikeout showing against Texas. The starter logged 5 1/3 innings, holding the Rangers to two runs on five hits with two walks. Unfortunately for Salazar, Jason Kipnis' RBI single in the sixth was the lone run of support from the Tribe's struggling offense.
"As a team, we haven't been winning a lot lately, but we're going to get through this," Salazar said. "We didn't get to first place by coincidence. We were playing hard and we know we're going to get through this as a team, too."
Cleveland scored 16 total runs over its seven-game road trip through Oakland and Texas, but 12 of those came in Friday's win over the Rangers. The Indians were held to one run or fewer in each of the other six games.
"Some of the guys, you can tip the caps to their side for certain at-bats," Kipnis said. "But, there were definitely at-bats we didn't make the adjustments on, at least not quick enough. We'll just have to go back up there with a better game plan. I know a bunch of guys are looking forward to going back home right now."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Defense backs Holland: Holland entered Saturday allowing a .936 OPS to opponents the second time through the order this season. He limited the Indians to a 1-for-8 showing their second time through with the help of some quality defense in the fifth. Gomez took extra bases away from Jose Ramirez with a leaping, wall-banging catch in left for the inning's second out. For the final out, Lucroy pounced on a wild pitch and threw out Brandon Guyer, who tried to sprint to second on the play.
"[Gomez] has a great nose for the baseball," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He sees the ball off the bat well with his footwork -- a Gold Glover." More >
Living up in the zone: Salazar made progress over his recent outings (10.41 ERA in his last six turns), but still struggled with elevating his fastball at times. With a runner on second and two outs in the third, Desmond punched a first-pitch fastball, which was up, into right for an RBI single. With one out and a runner on second in the fourth, Lucroy did the same, putting the Indians in a 2-0 hole.
"I thought it was significantly better than we've seen, which is really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Salazar. "It wasn't enough to win the game, but to see him make those strides was really good, because now we can hopefully get him on a roll. They're such a tough lineup. They make you work one through nine." More >
Tribe's rally halted: The Indians finally broke through in the sixth, when Kipnis delivered an RBI single off Holland, cutting Texas' lead to one run. Francisco Lindor followed with a two-out hit of his own, setting the stage for Mike Napoli. The slugger drove a pitch to deep left, where Gomez did not take the cleanest route, but recovered in time to make a running grab to end the inning.
Sweet relief: Sam Dyson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to pick up his 29th save of the season. Dyson got Abraham Almonte to fly out to end the game after allowing a single and two walks to load the bases with one out for the Indians. Dyson's scoreless frame was one of three from the Rangers' bullpen. Jake Diekman fired a scoreless seventh and Matt Bush followed him in the eighth to preserve the win for Holland.
"I look at it this way: He got the job done," Banister said. "It may not look to everybody the way [they] want it to look. But I know the bottom line is, for me, the game's over and we're showering and celebrating."
"What we always talk about is being consistent, and I want to make sure I'm showing that. I know it's two games in a row, but the way I'm going to look at it is, 'Whoop-Dee-Doo.' I need to go out there and continue doing this." -- Holland, on his second consecutive quality outing since coming off 60-day disabled list More >
"That's the Danny we remember. That's the Danny we want to see every time out. That's the Danny that's capable of going and winning a bunch of games, that got him to the All-Star Game. He can play a big factor for us down the stretch here if that's the pitcher that we're going to have back on the mound every fifth day. So, we're encouraged by that." -- Kipnis, on Salazar
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Guyer was hit by a pitch from Holland in the fifth, it marked the outfielder's Major League-leading 28th HBP this season. That is the most by an AL batter since 1987, when Don Baylor was also hit 28 times. Baylor holds the AL record for being hit by a pitch 35 times in 1986.
Lindor ended the afternoon with three hits, giving him a Major League-high 21 games with at least three hits this season. Houston's Jose Altuve ranks second with 20 such games.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rangers kept a pivotal third-inning rally alive with a challenge, following a strikeout and caught stealing that would have ended the inning. Elvis Andrus was initially ruled out after trying to steal second base, as Nomar Mazara struck out. Rangers manager Jeff Banister challenged and the umpires overturned the call, ruling Andrus safe at second for his 19th steal of the year. Desmond then delivered a run-scoring single to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Righty Trevor Bauer (9-6, 3.88 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday in the opener of a three-game divisional set with the Twins at Progressive Field. Cleveland has gone 33-17 against American League Central foes this year, but has just a 5-8 record against last-place Minnesota.
Rangers:Yu Darvish will take the mound for game one of a three-game series against the Mariners at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. Darvish is averaging 11.31 strikeouts per nine innings since the All-Star break, which is the third-highest in the Majors.