ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers had to keep winning to keep playing. After seven wins in a row, they have to do it one more time to get into the playoffs.
Craig Gentry had a key two-run single, Geovany Soto had a tiebreaking RBI double and a solo homer, and the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 Sunday to force a one-game tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot.
“They showed heart, fight, gut — any other adjective you want to find,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers (91-71), who began September with the AL West lead before a 5-15 slide, added game No. 163 to the regular season. They will host Tampa Bay on Monday night in baseball’s first wild-card tiebreaker since 2007. The winner plays two days later at wild-card leader Cleveland for a berth against Boston in the division series.
“You can’t say enough. Just the fight, the character of this team,” Gentry said. “From being about as low as we could possibly be and almost everybody probably counting us out, and to come home and play the way we have.”
Rookie left-hander Martin Perez (10-5, 3.55 ERA) starts for Texas on Monday against Tampa Bay and lefty David Price (9-8).
About the same time Tampa Bay wrapped up its 7-6 win at Toronto to necessitate a victory by the Rangers, Gentry hit a two-run single in the fifth for a 2-1 lead.
Los Angeles quickly tied the game in the sixth against major league strikeout leader Yu Darvish, but the Rangers went ahead to stay in the bottom half on Soto’s two-out double.
Adrian Beltre and Soto added solo homers in the eighth. It was Beltre’s 30th and the ninth for Soto, who has become the primary catcher for Darvish.
Texas has been in the playoffs the past three seasons, last year losing at home to Baltimore with Darvish on the mound in the AL’s first one-and-done wild-card game.