Odor pro­vides a spark for the Rangers, who are one win from ad­vanc­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS -

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.

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