ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Guilder Rodriguez played 13 seasons and 1,095 games in the minor leagues before the Texas Rangers called up the 31-year-old switch-hitting infielder earlier this month.
Now he has quite a night to remember, one shared with his father from Venezuela who watched him play in the United States for the first time in 10 years.
Rodriguez had his first two major league hits, including a tiebreaking RBI single, as the Rangers opened their final homestand with a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.
“This is my second-best moment after seeing my two daughters born,” Rodriguez said. “It’s unbelievable. I feel great.”
His first major league RBI came in the seventh, when his two-out single sent home Jake Smolinski and chased Astros starter Nick Tropeano (1-2), a pitcher Rodriguez was familiar with from the minor leagues. Smolinski was hit by a pitch to start the inning.
“I think the only word is special for me,” interim manager Tim Bogar said. “When he got his first hit, it was hard not to cry looking at his dad. It was pretty special that he got a chance to do it in front of his dad. Then the second hit that gave us the lead, that’s kind of storybook for us.”
Rougned Odor had a three-run triple for Texas, which won for the ninth time in its last 10 games. The Rangers got win No. 63 overall, ensuring that they will avoid their first 100-loss season since 1973.
“It puts a big smile on my face, just to know there’s no three digits in our loss column,” said Bogar, 10-6 since Ron Washington resigned. “But other than that, we know as an organization we’re not a team that’s a 100-loss team. We’re not heading in the wrong direction. It’s just a little bump in the road for us.”
Rodriguez made his major league debut two weeks ago, and at the time had the most minor league games for any current player before finally getting to the majors.
“It’s a thrill. To put in all that time in the minor leagues, and keep playing, and playing, and playing. A lot of guys would have given up,” Astros interim manager Tom Lawless said. “That’s the thing about baseball; you never give up. You never know, you might get the chance. Because your dream is a little kid is to play Major League baseball. And there he is.”
His father arrived from Venezuela on Sunday night, and sat in the second row near the Rangers bench. When his son singled in the third, the elder Rodriguez held both his arms in the air and then wiped tears from his eyes. That was the second of three consecutive Rangers to reach base before Odor tripled into the left-center field gap.
Rodriguez had an error at third base that led to an unearned tying run for Houston in the sixth. But when the Astros intentionally walked Robinson Chirinos ahead of Rodriguez in the seventh, Bogar had no intentions of using a pinch-hitter.
“You let it run through your mind because it’s baseball,” Bogar said. “But then you check yourself and you’re like, there’s no way you can hit for the kid.”
HOLLAND SOLID AGAIN
Derek Holland (2-0) scattered seven hits and allowed three runs, two earned, while pitching through one batter in the eighth. It was the left-hander’s fifth start since missing the first six months of the season rehabbing from left knee surgery.
Roman Mendez finished the eighth before Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
“I feel like I did my job. The main thing was that I didn’t have my best stuff but I went out there and pitched,” Holland said. “I made sure to bear down when I needed to.”
Astros: Lawless indicated that two relievers — RHP Josh Fields (right side strain) and LHP Darin Downs (right oblique) likely won’t pitch again this season.
Rangers: 2B Jurickson Profar, who has missed all season because of a muscle tear in his right shoulder, won’t play in the Arizona Fall League as expected after having more problems. Profar was back in Texas to see Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister after meeting in the last week with at least two other doctors.
The second game of a three-game series between the bottom two teams in the AL West, with left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (5-12) going for the Astros against Texas rookie right-hander Nick Martinez (4-11), who has a 2.74 ERA over his last four starts.