BALTIMORE — For the first time this postseason, Texas’ much-vaunted bullpen had to defend a slim lead late in the innings.
Josh Sporce, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc stumbled but didn’t fall.
Andrew Heaney and Dan Dunning helped Texas take a sixth-inning lead and endured some tense moments as the Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on Saturday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
“The bullpen did a great job,” manager Bruce Bochy noted. “He faced some obstacles but found a way to overcome them.”
Josh Jung homered and made a nice play at third base to start a crucial double play for Texas, which went 3-0 in these playoffs. All his victories have come in attendance.
Texas, which had led the American League West for most of the season, squandered a chance to win the pennant on the final day of the regular season.
The Rangers were able to settle for a wild card ticket to the playoffs. They reached the postseason without Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, with a bullpen that looked weak.
However, they have allowed just three runs in three games against the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
The final innings in the division series against the Rays wasn’t as stressful. Texas beat Tampa Bay 11-1 to snap a two-game winning streak.
Against the Orioles, the tension was high.
Heaney limited Baltimore to one run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings. Dunning relieved him and allowed one run in the sixth to get the win in two innings.
Will Smith, Spores, Cuban Chapman and Dominican Leclerc combined to get the last 10 outs, though there was some suspense.
Spurs hit seven straight balls to start the seventh inning. He issued the passport at the first turn.
Chapman walked the first two batters in the eighth before Jung moved to his left and picked off Anthony Santander’s short-hop grounder to start a 5-for-4 double play.
Chapman then singled out Ryan Mountcastle, a runner on third base, to end the inning.
Although he allowed Gunner Henderson to open the innings, Leclerc was credited with the save. Catcher Jonah Heim retired Henderson on a steal attempt, and the Orioles failed to put another runner on base.
For Rangers, Cuban Adolis Garcia went 1 for 5 with one run scored. Dominican Leodi Taveras 3-1.
For the Orioles, Venezuelan Anthony Santander went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Mexican Ramon Urias 2-1.