ARLINGTON -- On a night the Rangers played terrific defense, the best play came leading off the ninth inning. Royals designated hitter Jose Guillen hit a grounder toward the left-side hole. Third baseman Michael Young lunged and couldn't get to it. Shortstop Elvis Andrus did. He made a backhanded stop on the outfield grass, then jumped up, turned and made a long high throw to first base.
"I thought first the throw was going to go into the fans," Andrus said. "But then it started down." First baseman Justin Smoak also thought it was going over his head. Instead the throw was right on target, Smoak made a quick adjustment at the end and Guillen was out by a step. "A great play," manager Ron Washington said. "A great play." The Rangers had several nice defensive plays for pitcher C.J. Wilson in a 4-1 victory over the Royals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Two of the biggest were on line drives. The Royals got their only run in the third inning on a one-out RBI single by Billy Butler. That cut the Rangers' lead to 3-1 and the Royals still had runners on first and second. Guillen then hit a scorching line drive that Andrus snagged to his left for the second out of the inning. Wilson then retired Alberto Callaspo on a fly to left to end the threat. In the fifth, the Royals had Yuniesky Betancourt on first with one out. They tried a hit-and-run but Scott Podsednik's line drive was snared by Young and turned into an inning-ending double play. "The defense was great tonight," Wilson said. There were also a couple of notable plays in the sixth. Butler, leading off the inning, hit a sharp grounder back to the mound. Wilson knocked it down with his bare hand, scrambled to retrieve it and flipped to first for the out. There was some concern that he might have damaged the hand, but he ended up being fine after a visit from trainer Kevin Harmon. "It's just a little sore but no big deal ... I've had worse," Wilson said. "It caught him on the fat part of the hand," Washington said. "He had a bee sting for a moment, but C.J. was C.J. He blew it off and kept on pitching." The inning ended with Callaspo hitting a fly ball to right. David Murphy came racing in to make the catch, only to have the baseball plop out of his glove. But he reacted quick enough to snag it before he dropped it. "It went right through the lowest part of the lights at the very end," Murphy said. "I took my eye off it ... it went right into the pocket and then bounced out a little. I was able to reach out and grab it. That would have been ugly if I didn't catch it." Instead everything turned out beautifully defensively for the Rangers on Friday night.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.