The Texas Rangers only outscored the Detroit Tigers by two runs in this weekend's four-game series, but they are taking home three victories and a hold on the second American League wild spot.
"That's a tough ball club, so it is extremely important to win a series like this on the road," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after Sunday's 4-2 win. "These guys know what is in front of them and where they want to go."
The Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 games, started the day with a half-game lead over the Angels in the wild card standings, with Baltimore another half-game back.
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Cole Hamels (7-8) got the win, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out two. Shawn Tolleson, the third Rangers reliever, pitched the ninth for his 25th save.
Rookie Matt Boyd (1-4) gave up three runs on five hits and three walks in six innings. Boyd was acquired from Toronto in last month's David Price trade.
"He had a little trouble throwing strikes, especially early on, but I think the overall results weren't too bad," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He was able to get us through six innings and keep the score down."
After scoring 25 runs in a two-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Tigers only managed nine against Texas, including five in three straight losses to end the series.
Ian Kinsler bristled when asked about Detroit's inconsistent offense, especially after the battered pitching staff held Texas to 11 runs in the series.
"If you look at the numbers, we're top of the league, offensively, in a lot of categories," he said. "Are we supposed to produce six runs every game? Is that how baseball works?"
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second after a terrible throw by Shin-Soo Choo. With Kinsler on first, Miguel Cabrera singled to right. Kinsler challenged Choo's strong arm, and the throw sailed over third baseman Adrian Beltre and Hamels before slamming into the lip of the dugout roof. Kinsler was awarded home and Cabrera ended up on second.
Gimenez tied the game in the third with a homer to left, but Jose Iglesias put Detroit back in front with a fourth-inning RBI single.
Beltre and Banister were both ejected in the fifth inning in an odd sequence. Home plate umpire Adam Hamari ejected Beltre from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes. That brought Banister onto the field for a lengthy argument.
After Banister returned to the bench, Beltre began arguing with first base umpire Ron Kulpa despite multiple signals from Kulpa to vacate the dugout. Part of the argument stemmed from the fact that the Rangers felt Prince Fielder, who was taking the day off, should have been ejected instead of Beltre.
"My teammate over there (Fielder) was the one who said something -- he even said, `It was me, 84,' but I guess I was the ugly one and got thrown out," Beltre said. "I don't know if he confused 84 with 29, we're always wrong, the players. Umpires are always right."
Eventually, Kulpa ejected Banister, bringing him back onto the field for a more heated argument.
"When Beltre found out he had been ejected, he continued to yell at me about being ejected," Kulpa said. "Banister didn't get him into the locker room, so at that point, Banister was ejected."
An inning later, the short-handed Rangers took the lead. Boyd hit Choo with an 0-2 pitch, and Elvis Andrus, who had entered the game for Beltre, followed with a bunt single. He appeared to hurt himself hitting the bag, but stayed in the game.
Mitch Moreland followed with a double to right that scored both runners, although Andrus wasn't running well.
Napoli made it 4-2 with a homer in the eighth, the first allowed by Blaine Hardy in 84 2-3 innings dating back to June 27, 2014.
"I remember the last one," said Hardy, who has only given up two homers in his career. "It was a walk-off homer to Jason Castro in Houston. That's baseball. Nobody's perfect."
Castro also hit a walk-off homer in Houston on Sunday in a 3-2 win over the Dodgers.
Rangers: Fielder and Andrus were out of Sunday's lineup for regularly scheduled days off, although Andrus had to cut his short after Beltre's ejection.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to a pseudoaneurysm in his throwing shoulder. The weakened blood vessel has caused loss of feeling in his middle finger, and he will be examined by a thoracic surgeon this week.
Rangers: Texas is off Monday before starting a three-game home series with Toronto.
Tigers: Detroit was scheduled for an off day in the middle of a seven-game homestand, but will now travel to Cincinnati to make up a game that was rained out on June 18. Buck Farmer (0-2, 8.39) will start for the Tigers, while Keyvius Sampson (2-1, 3.18) goes for Cincinnati.
TEXAS MAIZE AND BLUE
Banister, Hamels, Fielder and Derek Holland drove to Ann Arbor on Saturday to meet with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his team, the second day in a row that Holland made the trip. He and Banister both returned with one of Michigan's distinctive helmets, which several players wore while running pass routes in the outfield before Sunday's game.