It seemed as though the Texas Rangers would need just one run to win the rubber match and take a series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday evening.
That was, until Joe Nathan took the hill and struggled for the first time since April in the ninth inning, allowing two runs before closing the door on a 4-2 Rangers win. That shaky ninth inning made the performance of Leonys Martin even more important as the rookie Cuban defector went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, driving in three runs and scoring the Rangers' other run on an Elvis Andrus double.
Martin was playing center field for the banged up Craig Gentry, who was available but didn't play after aggravating his ankle on Friday night. You'd have to think Gentry will be back in the lineup soon, if not tonight against the Tigers, but the consistent at-bats are helping Martin acclimate himself to the big leagues.
"I just try to hold onto my emotions and do the best that I can," Martin told reporters after Sunday's game. "The more that I stay with the team, the better I feel. It is a big help with the guys that are here. What I have to do is concentrate.”
His manager echoed that statement, saying Martin still needs to work on other facets of the game, but added that he has the swinging the bat part down, which has been evident since he hit .344 in 31 games at Triple-A Round Rock before getting the call to Arlington last week when Josh Hamilton was hospitalized with an intestinal virus.
"We know the kid can swing the bat," Washington said. "It's the other parts of the game that we're trying to work on: baserunning, defense, situations, throwing to the right bag. But, he picked us up tonight big time: two two-out big hits and they were beautiful."