Mike Napoli belted a two-run base hit in a five-run fourth inning as the Texas Rangers leveled their American League Division Series against Tampa Bay with an 8-6 win on Saturday.
“I put a good at-bat together,” Napoli said.
Texas capitalized on some pitching errors by Rays ace James Shields to even the best-of-five series at 1-1.
Napoli had a game tying two-run single, before Shields threw two wild pitches to the same batter.
Ian Kinsler added a two-run double and Mitch Moreland had a solo home run for Texas.
After Napoli’s two-run single tied it at 3-3, one of the wild pitches by Shields sent home the tiebreaking run that put Texas ahead to stay.
“It was very satisfying because Tampa has some great pitching over there and pitching usually settles down a great offense, but we kept grinding and kept grinding, and, you know, I think we got our confidence back,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Rangers pitcher Derek Holland gave up six hits and three runs — one earned — over five innings.
Shields finished with a half dozen strikeouts over five-plus innings, but gave up eight hits and seven runs.
Napoli and Nelson Cruz had consecutive singles to start the sixth and knock Shields out of the game. Kinsler sent both of them home with a double to make it 7-3.
Moreland blasted a booming one-out homer in the eighth for the Rangers, their first homer of the playoffs and his first at home since June.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Texas were 0-7 all-time in American League Division Series games at home, including four losses to the New York Yankees over three series in the 1990s.
Game 3 is today in Tampa, Florida. Colby Lewis is scheduled to start for Texas, while David Price is set to pitch for Tampa Bay.
Robinson Cano blasted a Grand Slam and drove in six runs, while rookie Ivan Nova pitched superbly into the ninth in an unusual relief appearance as the New York Yankees brushed off a 23-hour rain delay to beat Detroit 9-3 in their suspended playoff opener.
“I wasn’t looking for a home run, just looking for an RBI,” Cano said. “I just did my job today. Hopefully, we will keep winning.”
The game resumed on Saturday afternoon one day after rain halted play in Friday’s planned game which lasted just 1-1/2 innings.
Cano almost hit another homer on Saturday in the fifth inning, but settled for a run-scoring double in the eighth to tie a club record for RBIs in a post-season game.
His seventh career playoff home run was the 11th Grand Slam in New York playoff history and the first since Ricky Ledee did it in the 1999 playoff semi-finals against Boston.
The Yankees broke the game open in the sixth with six runs against Detroit pitcher Doug Fister.
Brett Gardner had a two-run single with two outs to make it 4-1 and, moments later, Cano connected off Al Alburquerque for his fourth Grand Slam since Aug. 11.
“He left a curve ball up and I was able get it through the middle,” Gardner said.
The only other suspended game in playoff history was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia. The game was stopped after 5-1/2 innings because of heavy rain. The game resumed two days later and the Phillies eliminated Tampa Bay to win the World Series title.