Rangers capitalize on rule change, walk off vs Indians
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The Texas Rangers took advantage of an experimental rule designed to limit extended extra-inning games, getting a game-ending single from Franklin Rollin in the ninth inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 on Tuesday in the final exhibition game for both teams.
Rollin singled home Zack Granite, who had been placed on second base to start the inning as part of a rule change implemented in spring training games this season. Granite stole third base and jogged home on Rollin's line drive to left field.
The rule was used in the minor leagues last season beginning in the 10th inning, and it will also apply to this year's All-Star Game. During spring training, the automatic baserunner was put in play beginning with the ninth inning, so long as both teams agreed. The rule will not be used during the regular season.
Rangers closer Jose Leclerc was the winning pitcher. He retired three batters on fly balls, stranding the runner placed on second.
Nomar Mazara hit a three-run home run, his first of the spring, for Texas. Mazara finished the exhibition season with a .300 average and nine RBIs.
Starting pitchers Mike Clevinger of Cleveland and the Rangers' Drew Smyly were warming up for their first regular-season starts Monday.
Smyly, who missed the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, held the Indians to one run in the first three innings but left after 3 2/3. He allowed three runs, six hits and three walks while striking out five.
Clevinger allowed four runs, two earned, in a third inning that featured Mazara's homer. Clevinger walked two, struck out five and gave up six hits.
AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT
On Tuesday morning, manager Chris Woodward indicated the Rangers would start the season with an eight-man bullpen, "as long as (left fielder) Joey (Gallo)'s healthy." Later, Woodward said Gallo would play Thursday. Gallo has been slowed this spring by a groin issue.
The Rangers also announced they have claimed RHP Kyle Dowdy on waivers from the Mets, and the Rule 5 draft pick will begin the season on Texas' roster. The 26-year-old was 9-12 with a 5.15 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A.
Indians: Manager Terry Francona said the team planned to have 3B Jose Ramirez (left knee contusion) in Thursday's opening day lineup. "He actually worked out in the field (in Arizona). He's going to fly to Minnesota, so he'll work out with us (Wednesday)." ... SS Francisco Lindor (strained right calf) had a home run and four RBIs in a minor league spring training game Monday. The team was more encouraged that he played eight innings in the field. Lindor will begin the season on the injured list.
Rangers: Gallo (strained right groin) will play in Thursday's opening game against the Cubs.
Indians: Play at Minnesota on Thursday. RHP Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.89 in 2018) will be the first Cleveland pitcher to make five straight opening day starts since Hall of Famer Stan Coveleski in 1921.
Rangers: Host the Cubs in the season opener on Thursday. LHP Mike Minor (12-8, 4.18 last year), in his first opening day start, will be the 10th Texas pitcher in 11 years to open a season.
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