Rookie Mike Olt fouled off some tough pitches and nearly struck out before he delivered his first big hit with the Texas Rangers.
Olt's pinch-hit RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Nelson Cruz with the winning run in the Rangers' 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
During a nine-pitch at-bat, Olt fouled off four pitches and checked his swing on a curveball in the dirt. The 23-year-old Olt then drove a 2-2 pitch from Phil Coke past diving third baseman Miguel Cabrera into left field to score Cruz, who easily beat the throw home.
Olt, one of the Rangers' most highly touted prospects, was called up on Aug. 1 after belting 28 home runs in Double-A Frisco. The right-hander batted for Mitch Moreland against the left-handed Coke.
"It's been a surreal experience," Olt said. "It's been a special week. It's good to get in there and get my feet wet."
Cruz and Michael Young drew four-pitch walks from Brayan Villarreal (3-3) in the ninth before Coke relieved and got the next two outs. Olt then produced his winning hit. Olt was mobbed by his teammates in a wild celebration near first base after he became the first Rangers rookie with a game-ending pinch hit since Mike Lamb did it on May 5, 2000. "For a young kid, he looked calm to me," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't look overwhelmed."
The Rangers, who started a run on Friday of 20 games in 20 days, remained 5 1-2 games ahead of Oakland in the AL West. "We are playing well," Young said. "Hopefully this will give us momentum. We're in a stretch where we're playing some good teams."
Texas left-hander Derek Holland matched Detroit ace Justin Verlander in a rematch of last season's ALCS. Holland tied a season-high with nine strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one. Holland was 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his previous four starts. He got off to a rocky start when Jackson homered on the fourth pitch of the game and Omar Infante followed with a single.
After that, Holland allowed only a walk to Cabrera in the fourth and Peralta's single in the fifth. "(Holland) stood up for us," Washington said. "He was competing hard. He did what he had to do."