Odor provides a spark for the Rangers, who are one win from advancing
Rougned Odor was struggling so badly a month into this season that he was sent back to the minor leagues by the Texas Rangers.
Now the 21-year-old second baseman is a big reason why Texas returned home to Arlington with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series against Toronto.
Aggressive on the bases, Odor scored twice in Game 2 with a pair of nifty slides into the plate— one on a shallow sacrifice fly, and the other for the tiebreaking run in the 14th inning of the Rangers’ 6-4 win.
“Right now, he’s in a position that he feels good, and he feels his confidence level is high and he can do whatever,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said Saturday before the Rangers worked out at home.
Sort of like a then-22-year-old Andrus was in 2010, when the Rangers also had a 2-0 ALDS lead and were on the way to their first World Series. Andrus is now the longest-tenured position player in Texas.
Game 3 against the Blue Jays is Sunday night in Texas and will start about the same time the Dallas Cowboys should be finishing their home game across the street against the New England Patriots.
Left-hander Martin Perez (3-6) pitches for the Rangers in the potential clincher. Marco Estrada (13-8), who held hitters to a majorleague-low .183 batting average after the all-star break, starts for Toronto.
“We need a big outburst with the bats, score a lot of runs,” Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said. “We score in bunches. That’s kind of our trademark. . . . Hopefully we can do it one time, youknow, catch our breath a little bit and gain a little confidence [that] maybe we can hang in this thing.”
Odor got the game-winning rally in the 14th started Friday with a two-out infield single, then took a wide turn around second on a single to right by Chris Gimenez before sliding feet-first back into the base with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki quickly applying a tag — the safe call stood after a long video replay.
Two pitches later, Odor was going around catcher Russell Martin again, swiping his hand on the back of the plate to put Texas ahead to stay on Hanser Alberto’s single.
Manager Jeff Banister called Odor one of those players who will “completely will yourself to score” and who has the sole purpose of crossing the plate.
“That’s where I think Roogie Odor is,” Banister said. “Great heads-up base running, but also just to have the body control to be able to make the slides that he made. Incredible.”
A dozen innings before his goahead run, Odor came home on a short flyball to center to score on a close play. After diving head-first toward the plate and initially reaching with his left hand to get under Martin, Odor avoided the tag by pulling his left arm back andthen reaching around with his right hand to hit the plate.
“That excitement and exuberance that he plays with, it lifts everybody else in this clubhouse,” Gimenez said.
Odor hit .259 in 114 games as a rookie last season, when he was the youngest player in the majors as a 20-year-old, making his debut in May 2014.
After hitting .144 with 25 strikeouts in 90 at-bats through the first 31 games this season, he was sent back to Class AAA Round Rock. Since getting called back June 15, he is hitting .292 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in 93 games, including the first two games of this series.
Alberto is the rookie forced into action since veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre exited Game 1 early with lower back stiffness. Beltre, still considered day to day, was excused from Saturday’s workout to stay home and rest. He will be reevaluated again before Game 3 on Sunday night. Cecil is out for season
The season is over for Toronto left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, whohas a torn left calf muscle and has been replaced on the Blue Jays’ postseason roster.
Rookie right-hander Ryan Tepera was added to Toronto’s roster on Saturday. Tepera had a 3.27 ERA in 32 appearances over three stints with the Blue Jays this season.
Cecil, a former Mary land standout who was the All-Met player of the year with DeMatha in 2004, said Saturday that he won’t need surgery and will be ready for spring training. He got hurt while tagging out Mike Napoli in a rundown that ended the eighth inning of the Blue Jays’ 6-4 loss to Texas on Friday that gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the best-offive series.
While Cecil initially thought he only had a cramp, hesaid the “pain took over” once the adrenaline quickly wore off after the inningending play. Rondon gets locked out
Chicago Cubs closer Hector Rondon got stuck in the bullpen bathroom for several minutes after Game 1 of the NL Division Series.
JoeWalsh, St. Louis’s director of stadium operations, said the lock malfunctioned afterFriday night’s game, a 4-0 Cardinals win. Walsh said city fire department officials had been on standby before personnel got the lock to function.