ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have locked down that elusive last spot in the lineup during the final week of the season. Craig Gentry is playing every day in left field regardless of who is on the mound, leaving David Murphy and Jeff Baker to platoon at designated hitter.
"He has been greatly needed," manager Ron Washington said. "He has been the spark that we've been looking for. He's done a tremendous job defensively, he's making things happen on the basepaths and he's putting together good at-bats. I hope it continues."
Gentry went into Friday's game against the Angels with 12 hits in his last 25 at-bats over seven games. The Rangers were 6-1 in those games. He also has seven stolen bases and six runs scored. He started in left on Thursday night and threw out Howie Kendrick trying to score from second on a single in the fifth inning.
"I'm trying," Gentry said. "It's so important right now to do what we can do to scratch out a win. I'm doing whatever I can to help this team. Every game is crucial. We have to win."
While Gentry has been a part-time player, he has still been an integral part of the Rangers' success the past three years and has experience in big games. He is 5-for-17 (.294) in the postseason.
"I think it absolutely helps getting that experience on the big stage," Gentry said. "You definitely feel a lot of pressure from the outside, and it's easier to handle it because you have that experience. You can relax and play with confidence."
Gentry also has 21 stolen bases. He is the only player in club history to steal at least 20 bases in the season while having fewer than 250 at-bats.
Profar is youngest to hit pinch-hit, walk-off homer
ARLINGTON -- Jurickson Profar's pinch-hit walk-off home run made history on Thursday night. Profar was pinch-hitting in the designated-hitter spot when he led off the ninth inning with a game-winning home run for the Rangers against Angels reliever Michael Kohn.
Profar is the youngest player in Major League history to hit a walk-off home run as a pinch-hitter. The only other player to do it as a pinch-hitter before his 21st birthday was Jimmie Foxx for the Athletics on May 14, 1928. Foxx was pinch-hitting for Mickey Cochrane, and both are now in the Hall of Fame.
The Rangers' 6-5 victory marked their fourth consecutive victory against the Angels at the Ballpark in Arlington that ended with a walk-off home run. That's also something that has never been done in Major League history: one team beating another in four straight home games on walk-off home runs.
"To see Profar do that, it's an awesome sight and awesome feeling," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
The home run came on only Profar's second at-bat in the previous eight games. His last start was on Sept. 18 against the Rays. He has started nine games in September as opposed to 25 in August. Profar is planning to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic to help offset playing time lost while serving as the Rangers' utility infielder for much of the season.
Profar went into Friday's game hitting .235 with 30 runs scored, six home runs and 26 RBIs in 84 games. He had a .309 on-base percentage and a .337 slugging percentage. He did so while starting 29 games at second, 16 each at shortstop and designated hitter, 10 at third and four in left field.
"What he's been through wasn't unexpected," manager Ron Washington said. "If he had excelled, I would have been as surprised as anyone. Even with his struggles he has been a big part of where we are. He has to grow from it. He'll be a better player for it. He's a 20-year-old in a utility role. You've got veteran guys with years in the game who have trouble in that role. He has been invaluable, and down the road it will pay off."
Washington confident Jays, Twins will compete
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers went into the weekend needing help from the Twins and the Blue Jays. Both teams have losing records and have been eliminated from the postseason, but the Twins still have three games with the Indians and the Blue Jays have three games with the Rays.
Texas enters Friday trailing the Indians by one game for the second American League Wild Card spot. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he is confident the Twins and Blue Jays will battle to the final out of the season.
"I can tell you with Ron Gardenhire as manager of the Minnesota Twins, that answers that question," Washington said. "With John Gibbons as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, that answers that question. They are pros. That's just professionalism. That's all that is. You can't describe it any way else. No matter who you play or where you play, you want to win."
The Twins lost to the Indians, 6-5, on Thursday night. They scored four runs in the ninth but their rally came up short.
"We're playing a team in the pennant race here," Gardenhire said. "They're one game up. So there's going to be a lot of intensity coming from their dugout. Hopefully we can join in with it. There's a lot to play for because all of baseball is watching this series. I'm hoping our guys are going to want to get after it and play the game the right way and give these guys a run for their money and make them earn it."
The Blue Jays-Rays series begins tonight in Toronto.
"We want to finish good, we still have a say in what happens to Tampa over there, so we'd like to play a good series," Gibbons said. "That would bring some satisfaction to us. We've been playing pretty good baseball, we haven't been scoring a lot, it's a different offense, but guys are competing pretty good. Big hit here or there would make a difference."
• Pitcher Yu Darvish, when asked if he felt pressure pitching in a pennant race: "I'd feel pressure if I got caught cheating on my girlfriend. Other than that, no."
• The Rangers have 48 come-from-behind victories, the most in the Majors and the most in club history.
• The Rangers have been involved in nine games that ended with a walk-off home run, tied for the most in the Majors. The Rangers have won four and lost five.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.