A WIN IN THE CARDS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas -  Sunday afternoon, the Texas Rangers were two outs away from a win in the ninth inning, but gave up a home run to send the game into extra innings.  In the tenth inning, they gave up another run to stare at the strong possibility of losing their fourth straight extra inning game this season.  On this Sunday though, a win to clinch the series was in the cards, as the Rangers came back with with two runs in their half of the tenth inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4.

The game started poorly for Texas.  The first batter of the game – center fielder Harrison Bader – doubled, and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a walk.  The third batter – Paul DeJong then doubled them both home to give St. Louis a 2-0 0 lead with no outs.

Amazingly, the Cards went to the ninth inning with just those two runs on the board.  Shin-Soo Choo homered leading off the Ranger first inning to cut the lead in half.  Hunter Pence tied the game with a run scoring double in the fourth inning.  Danny Santana put the Rangers ahead 3-2 with a pinch hit home run in the eighth inning.

Chris Martin took the mound in the ninth inning hoping to earn the save.  After Yadier Molina grounded out, that hope vanished as Dexter Fowler tied the game with a home run.

In the tenth inning, St. Louis went ahead by putting a run on the board in text book fashion.  Bader’s lead-off double was followed with a ground out that moved Bader to third base, and he scored on DeJong’s sacrifice fly to give the Cards the 4-3 lead.

Rougned Odor got the Rangers tenth inning rally started with a lead-off single.  Santana pushed him into scoring position when he worked a walk.  Ranger manager Chris Woodward then went with Willie Calhoun to pinch hit.  Calhoun did not disappoint.  He singled to right center scoring Odor to tie the game and moving Santana to third.

An intentional walk loaded the bases, but took the bat out Choo’s hands.  Logan Forsythe then struck out giving the Cardinals the opportunity to get out of the inning with a double play.  Nomar Mazara didn’t comply with the plan.  He hit a fly to left center, which proved deep enough to score Santana with the game winner.

Jeanmar Gomez had given up the Cardinals’ go ahead run in the tenth inning, but he was credited with the win.  He’s 1-0.  St. Louis’s Jordan Hicks was the losing pitcher.  He’s 1-2.

The Rangers other win in the series came in Friday night’s opening game.  Texas won 7-3, winning the opening game of a series for just the third time this season in 15 series.

The offense exploded for seven runs in the second inning to take control of the game early.  Joey Gallo recorded two hits in the inning starting with a lead off double.  He scored the first run of the inning and later singled home the seventh run.  The big hit was Odor’s three run home run, and Choo also drove home two runs with his sixth home run.

The Rangers used Jose Leclerc as the opener on the mound.  He was excellent.  He retired the Cardinals in order in the first inning on 12 pitches, striking out two.  Adrian Sampson followed and completed 5-1/3rd innnings, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits.  He walked one and struck out one to earn his first Major League win.  Jesse Chavez and Chris Martin finished the game, with Martin giving up a solo home run for the Cardinals’ final run.

Former Ranger Miles Mikolas was the St. Louis starting and losing pitcher.  He retired just four batters as he gave up all seven Ranger runs on nine hits.  He’s 4-4 with the loss.

Saturday’s game was a clunker for Texas.  The start time was delayed 2:11 because of rain.  The Rangers committed two errors that led to three unearned runs, but at least one error and possibly two more were saved by questionable scoring calls.

Ariel Jurado was the Ranger starting pitcher.  His line of 4-1/3rd innings pitched allowing four runs, two of which were unearned, on five hits may not look good, but he pitched well.  He is 1-2 with the loss, but certainly will get more chances to become a regular in the starting rotation.

St. Louis broke open a 1-0 game in the fifth inning with five runs on their way to winning 8-2.  Cardinals’ starter Dakota Hudson is 3-3 with the win.

With the series win, Texas and Los Angeles are both 8.5 games behind red hot division leader Houston.  The Astros had their second 10-game winning streak of the season halted with a 4-3 loss in Boston Sunday.

Another great sign for Texas in this series was Leclerc.  He also pitched two innings on Sunday, retiring all six Cardinals he face, five of which were strikeouts.

The Rangers’ home stand continues with games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Seattle.  Mike Minor (4-3), Lance Lynn (5-3), and Adrian Sampson (1-3) are the announced starting pitchers for Texas.  Monday’s and Tuesday’s games start at 7:05 PM.  Wednesday afternoon’s getaway game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*    The Rangers now lead the American League with three pinch hit home runs.  Ranger pinch hitters are 7-16 for the season.

*     The Rangers announced that Josh Hamilton and former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene would be inducted into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame prior to the August 17 game.  They become the 21st and 22nd members.

*     The also Rangers announced that the Cardinals would face the Rangers in the first game in the new Globe Life Field.  The two teams will play an exhibition game on March 23, 2020.

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RANGERS BLAST K. C.

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers finished their nine-game road trip in style, winning the last two games to win their first road series of the year.  Texas blasted the Kansas City Royals 22-2 in the final two games of the series after losing the opener 11-5.

The series began with the Rangers’ fifth straight loss, and the night got worse from there.  Ranger captain Elvis Andrus ran hard late in the game trying to beat out a slow grounder past the pitcher that was fielded by the shortstop.  The throw to first base beat Andrus, who gave indication of a slight limp as he ran past first base.  He was immediately removed from the game and placed on the injured list the next day.

Shelby Miller was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he turned in his worst outing of the season.  He’s been bad, so that was hard to do.  He gave up eight earned runs in less than two innings, a performance that knocks him out of the starting rotation.  Manager Chris Woodward told the media that Miller would be working out of the bullpen for now.

Miller is 1-3 with the loss, and his ERA ballooned to more than a run per inning – 9.51.  Big ouch!  K. C.’s Danny Duffy is 2-1 with the win.  Offensively, Andrus (one), Joey Gallo (two) and Logan Forsythe (two) drove in the runs.  The teams combined to hit nine doubles in the game.

Willie Calhoun was summoned from AAA Nashville to replace Andrus on the roster.  He homered in his first Major League at bat of the season to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead in game two of the series.  Shin-Soo Choo and Ronald Guzman also hit home runs en route to a 6-1 win.

Mike Minor started and finished five innings allowing the Royals’ run to get the win that improved his record to 4-3.  His ERA sits at a dandy 2.81.  On Friday morning, that was sixth best in the American League.

On Thursday afternoon, the Rangers took control of a 1-1 game with a five run fifth inning.  They made some smart base running plays, and the Royals lent a helping hand by committing an error.

The Ranger offense just took off from there, scoring in each of the final six innings of the game.  Texas set season highs in runs scored (16) and hits (21).  Willie Calhoun got four hits on the day including his second home run in as many days, as he puts in a strong bid to stay in the Majors when injured players return to the roster.  Joey Gallo, Hunter Pence and Rougned Odor also hit home runs.

Lance Lynn completed seven innings allowing a run on six hits.  He is 5-3 with the win, and his ERA dropped under 5.00 at 4.94.  Brett Martin and Jeffrey Springs shut out K. C. in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Rangers are back home for three games this weekend with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Texas is 19-22 for the season, which puts them in fourth place in the division one game ahead of Oakland, percentage points behind third place Los Angeles and 8.5 games behind first place Houston.

The announced starting pitchers for Texas are still up in the air.  The primary pitcher, the ones that would normally start are Adrian Sampson on Friday and Ariel Jurado on Saturday.  However, the Rangers have named Jose Leclerc to be the “opener” in Friday’s game, and will likely also use an opener to pitch the first inning in Saturday’s game.  Drew Smyly is scheduled to either start or be the primary pitcher that follows an opener in Sunday’s game.  Game times are 7:05 PM Friday night, 3:05 PM Saturday afternoon, and 2:05 PM on Sunday afternoon.  (All times Central).

 

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ASTROS SWEEP

1-5 WEEK DROPS RANGERS TO AL WEST BASEMENT

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Houston Astros solidly pounded the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon in Minute Maid Park, 15-5 to complete a four game sweep and knock the Rangers into last place in the American League West.  The Astros have taken control of the Division with a 26-15 record.  The other four teams in the West are under .500.   Houston now has a 6.5 game lead over the second place Los Angeles Angels.  Texas at a season high four games under .500 at 17-21 trails Houston by 7.5 games.

The first 2.5 games of the series were competitive.  Wade Miley and Mike Minor locked up in a pitchers’ duel in Thursday night’s opening game.  Minor did not have one of his best starts giving up three runs in five innings on seven hits, but it was good enough to keep the Rangers in the game.  Miley gave up a two run home run to Hunter Pence in his six innings of work.

Houston led 4-2 in the eighth inning.  Pence came to bat with two runners on base and hit another ball that would have gone into the seats.  Houston’s Josh Reddick however made an outstanding catch reaching over the right field wall for the ball.

The final score was 4-2 with Miley (3-2) getting the win, and Minor (3-3) the loss.  Rafael Osuna shut out the Rangers in the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.

Justin Verlander pitched a magnificent game Friday night.  He gave up one hit in seven shutout innings to improve his record to 6-1.  The Rangers mustered just one more hit in the ninth inning.  Both hits were singles.

Lance Lynn started for Texas and held the Astros to three runs on six hits over seven innings.  The final score was 3-0.  Lynn is 4-3 with the loss, and Osuna recorded his 10th save.

Saturday night, Gerritt Cole struck out 12 in six innings to earn the win, which evened his record at 4-4.  Despite Cole’s sparkling performance, the Rangers trailed just 2-1 going to the sixth inning.

Ranger manager Chris Woodward employed an “opener” to start the game.  Jesse Chavez pitched a sparkling first inning, retiring the three Astros he faced on 10 pitches.  Drew Smyly followed and held Houston to two runs over the next four innings, one of which was unearned.

Smyly flat ran out of gas in the sixth inning.  He was a strike away from retiring the side, but he threw ball four to former Ranger Robinson Chirinos to load the bases with walks and two outs.  Kyle Dowdy followed and served up a grand slam home run to put the game out of the Rangers’ reach.

The Rangers bullpen faltered giving up six runs on the night.  The only offensive answer the Rangers had was a three run home run from Ronald Guzman.  The final score was 11-4.  Smyly is 0-3 with the loss.

The Astros Sunday rout of Texas came in support of Corbin Lewis making his first Major League start.  Lewis, who played high school ball in the Houston area and played for Texas A&M, was limited to around 80 pitches.  He pitched into the sixth inning allowing two runs on three hits to go to 1-0.

George Springer hit a home run leading off Houston’s first inning.  In the second inning, Springer singled home a run, and then scored on Alex Bregman’s home run.  The Astros failed to score in the third inning, but posted two runs in the fourth inning, four runs in the fifth, and five runs in the sixth.

Adrian Sampson was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he was lit up for six runs on nine hits in 3-1/3rd innings.  Ariel Jurado and Brett Martin gave up the rest of Houston’s runs.

Earlier in the week, Sampson started on Tuesday against the Pirates, and his breaking ball was erratic.  Some he threw had almost no break at all.  Others broke sharply and a lot.  The bottom line was that very few of them went where he wanted them to go.

In the fourth and fifth innings, he hit a batter each of which scored, as the Pirates erased a 2-1 deficit.  They scored twice in both innings to take a 5-2 lead.

Pence had given the Rangers the early lead with a two run home run.  He doubled home two more runs in the seventh inning to pull the Rangers within a run at 5-4, but that was all the Ranger’ offense could muster, making 5-4 the final score.  Sampson fell to 0-2 with the loss, while the Pirates’ Michael Feliz is 2-0 with the win.  Felipe Vasquez zipped the Rangers in the ninth inning with two strikeouts and a fly out for his 10th save.

The Rangers were staring at a series sweep against the Bucs as they trailed 6-2 in the eighth inning last Wednesday.  Pence pinch hit and slugged a grand slam home run to tie the game.  Texas scored three more runs in the ninth inning to win 9-6.  The seven runs scored over the final two innings were all scored with two outs.

Areil Jurado (1-1) was the winning pitcher, and Chris Martin earned his first save by pitching a perfect three up, three down ninth inning.  Pittsburgh’s Tyler Lyons (1-1) was the losing pitcher.

The Astros go on the road for six games this week, starting with three in Detroit Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  The announced starting pitchers are Brad Peacock (3-2) on Monday, Wade Miley (3-2) on Tuesday, and Justin Verlander (6-1) on Wednesday.  All three have 6:10 PM(Central) start times.  The road trip concludes next weekend in Boston after an off day Thursday.

The Rangers are off Monday, and then finish the current road trip in Kansas City.  The Rangers’ announced starting pitchers are Shelby Miller (1-2) on Tuesday, Mike Minor (3-3) on Wednesday and Lance Lynn (4-3) on Thursday.  Game times are 7:15 PM (Central) on Tuesday and Wednesday and 1:15 PM (Central) on Thursday.

NOTABLE:

*     Hunter Pence is a solid candidate to win the American League Player of the Week.  He hit .368 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

*     Elvis Andrus played in his 1,513th game Sunday to take over third place on the Rangers’ All-Time list.  He tied Jim Sundburg when he played Saturday.  Michael Young (1,823) and Rafael Palmeiro (1,573) are first and second.

*     The Rangers have lost the first game in 11 of their first 13 series this season.  The wins were in the two series with the Angels.

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RANGERS TAKE TWO FROM JAYS

Season Record Back to .500 With Series Win

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers took won this weekend’s series with the Toronto Blue Jays two game to one.  The series win brought the Rangers’ season record back to .500 at 16-16.  They also improved their home record to 12-7 in three home series.

The series opened with an old fashioned pitchers’ duel.  Texas starter Mike Minor was terrific, turning in eight shutout innings while allowing seven hits.  He struck out nine of the 24 batters he retired, and the performance brought his ERA down to 2.40, which is fifth best in the American League.

The problem for Minor and the Rangers was Blue Jays’ starter Trent Thornton.  He was even better than Minor.  He allowed just two base runners in seven innings – a walk to Joey Gallo and a single to Nomar Mazara, who was cut down trying to stretch his hit into a double.

The bullpens pitched well too.  After nine innings, the game was still scoreless.  After two extra innings, it was still scoreless.  In the 12th inning, the Blue Jays finally cracked the scoreboard scoring a run on an over throw at third base.

The Rangers didn’t score in their half of the 12th inning making the final score 1-0.  It was the first extra inning shutout loss for Texas in their current stadium.

Ariel Jurado, the Rangers’ fourth reliever after Minor departed, took the loss.  He’s 0-1.  Daniel Hudson, the Blue Jays’ fourth reliever after Thornton departed was the winning pitcher.  He’s 2-1, and Ken Giles earned his eighth save of the year by striking out the side in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The Rangers’ offense came back to town for the final two games.  They scored eight runs early Saturday night, with the big hit coming from Isiah Kiner-Falefa – a bases loaded triple that blew the game open.  All eight runs crossed the plate in the first three innings.

Lance Lynn did not pitch well for Texas, but he scrambled to complete six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.  He also walked five.

Jose Leclerc, the struggling former Ranger closer, took care of the seventh inning in one-two-three fashion, striking out two.   Chris Martin shut down the Jays in the eighth inning, and Shawn Kelley handled the ninth inning save opportunity in style, needing just eight pitches to close out the Jays.

8-5 was the final score.   Lynn is 4-2 with the win, and Kelley earned his second save of the year.  Toronto starter Thomas Pannone is 1-3 with the loss.

On Sunday, Drew Smyly came off the injured list to make the start for the Rangers.  He got through four innings throwing 68 pitches, allowing a run on two hits.  It was certainly a credible performance coming off the IL without a minor league rehab outing to rebuild his stamina.

He got run support early with Asdrubal Cabrera doubling home Gallo in the second inning, and then scoring himself on Rougned Odor’s second home run of the season.  The Rangers added three more runs in the third inning when Cabrera homered with two runners on base.  The Rangers led 6-1 after three innings, and the game was never in doubt from there.  The final score was 10-2.

Kyle Dowdy relieved Smyly and pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.  He’s 2-1.  The Jays’ Clay Buchholz gave up seven runs in four innings to take the loss.  He’s 0-2.

Texas remains in third place in the American League West trailing first place Houston by three games and second place Seattle by one, even though Seattle has one more loss than the Rangers.  Texas is two games ahead of the fourth place Angels and three games ahead of last place Oakland.

After a day off Monday, Texas is out of town for a nine game, three city road trip.  They travel to Pittsburgh for games Tuesday and Wednesday.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Adrian Sampson (0-1) in game one, and Shelby Miller (1-2) in game two.

NOTABLE:

*     Ronald Guzman joined the Frisco RoughRiders Saturday for a minor league rehab assignment.  He went 2-4 with a home run in his first Riders’ game.  The Rangers expect to activate him on Thursday in Houston.  A corresponding roster move is up in the air.  The two position players that have played in Guzman’s stead are Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe, neither of which have minor league options and would thus have to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors.  The Rangers obviously don’t want to lose either player, and could reduce their pitching staff to make room for Guzman.

*     Rougned Odor came into Sunday’s game with no hits in his last 21 at-bats, but he went 2-4 driving in three runs.  That brought his season average up to .141.

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SWEPT AT HOME

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers have been one of the best home teams in baseball winning 10 of their first 14 home games this year.  This week though, they returned from a West Coast road trip on a two game winnng streak, and promptly dipped below .500 by getting swept in a two-game series by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The highlight of the series was Adrian Sampson’s Tuesday night start.  He continues to stake a claim to being this team’s number three starter behind Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.  He fell an out short of earning a quality start as he completed 5-2/3rds scoreless innings.  Sampson gave up five hits, struck out five batters and walked no one.  His ERA is down to 3.58.

Asdrubal Cabrera supported Sampson with a two run single in the fourth inning.  Joey Gallo, the Rangers’ Player of the month for March-April, walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead going to the ninth inning.

Sampson’s first Major League win was just three outs away as closer Jose Leclerc took the mound to start the ninth.  A double, single and single opened the inning to score a run and left runners at first and third.

Leclerc struck out the next two batters to put the Rangers one out away from the win.  Josh Bell was the next hitter.  Bell is a graduate of Dallas Jesuit High School, and he tormented the team he grew up loving with a double that scored both runners to tie the game.

Neither team scored in the 10th inning.  The Pirates struck for a pair of home runs in the 11th with a batter reaching base on an error in between.  In the bottom half of the 11th, Gallo hit his 10th home run to become the first Ranger ever to hit 10 home runs before May 1.  It was too little, as three of the next four batters made outs to end the game.

The final score was 6-4.  Jesse Chavez (0-1) was the losing pitcher, and Kyle Crick (1-1) was Pittsburgh’s winning pitcher.  Felipe Vazquez nabbed his seventh save.

In Wednesday’s matinee, the Rangers scored first as Danny Santana doubled home a run in the second inning.  The lead lasted until the fourth inning when the Pirates struck for four runs.  A single and two walks loaded the bases.  Melky Cabrera’s single scored a run to tie the game at one.  Bryan Reynolds then cleared the bases with a double to give the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish.

The fourth inning ended Ranger starter Shelby Miller’s day.  He finished with four earned runs charged in 3-1/3rd innings on four hits, two walks and three strikeouts.  His ERA ballooned to 7.99.

The Pirates put two more runs on the board in the seventh, while the Rangers answered with one in the sixth and two in the seventh to make the score 6-5.  Kyle Dowdy was charged with the two seventh inning runs and one more in the eighth, while the Rangers failed to score in the eighth and ninth innings.

The final score was 7-5.  Miller took the loss to go to 1-2, and Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was the winning pitcher.  He’s 2-3.  Vasquez again earned the save, his eighth, after tossing a scoreless ninth inning.

The Rangers are 14-15 for the season, but still in third place three games behind first place Houston.  The Angels and Athletics also have 14 wins, but have more losses to trail Texas in the American League West.

Texas is off again Thursday and then host the Toronto Blue Jays in a three game series this weekend.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (3-2) on Friday, Lance Lynn (3-2) on Saturday, and Drew Smyly (0-2) on Sunday.  Start times are 7:05 PM (Central) on Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 PM on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     A Ranger starting pitcher has thrown five innings or more in only 12 of the 29 games.  Eight of those 12 starts were turned in by Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.

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A GREAT SPLIT!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers arrived in Seattle with their starting rotation in shreds, their bullpen was dog tired, and their offense wasn’t clicking.  The drudgery of getting swept in Oakland continued by losing the first two games to Seattle to extend their losing streak to five games.  However, they bounced back with good pitching and an explosive offense to leave Seattle Sunday with a split in the series and riding a two game winning streak before starting a five game home stand.

The big game of the series was Saturday’s turnaround that ended the losing streak.  It came on the heels of a disappointing 11 inning loss in game two Friday night.  Mike Minor has not only established himself as the Rangers’ number one starter, but also as one of the top 10 pitchers in the American League.  He showed why Saturday.

Minor completed seven innings with 111 pitches, the most thrown by a Ranger pitcher in two years.  He gave up just one run on three hits and 13 of the 21 outs he recorded were strikeouts, tying the Ranger record by a Ranger left-handed pitcher.

He was heavily supported by the Rangers’ offense, which came alive to plaster the Seattle scoreboard with 15 runs on 20 hits, both season highs.  All nine offensive starters had at least one hit, and seven had multi-hit games.  Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo each hit a home run, and Andrus, Hunter Pence and Logan Forsythe each drove in three runs as Texas won 15-1!

Minor is 3-2 with the win, and Seattle’s Mike Leake, who was rocked for nine runs on 10 hits, took the loss to fall to 2-3.

Sunday’s game looked a lot like Saturday’s.  Lance Lynn made a strong start completing seven innings while allowing a run on five hits.  He struck out nine.

The offense almost duplicated Saturday’s hammering of Seattle’s pitchers.  They scored 14 runs on 17 hits.  Andrus, Forsythe, Pence, and Shin-Soo Choo hit home runs.  Pence led the way with four RBIs and Forsythe had three.

The 14-1 win went to Lynn, who is now 3-2.  Mariner starter Erik Swanson is 0-3 with the loss after giving up nine runs on 11 hits in four innings.

When the series began, the Rangers were so pitching desperate that they flew in Taylor Hearn from Nashville to make the start on Thursday.  Hearn is ranked by MLB.com as the number 11 pitching prospect in the Rangers system.  He had made four starts at Nashville with a 1-3 record and 4.05 ERA.  His strikeout total was impressive, but his walk total was also high.

On Thursday, he faced eight batters retiring only one.  Those that reached base included four that walked, as Hearn simply couldn’t find the plate.  He threw 39 pitches, and only 18 were strikes.  Plus his fastball that was clocked north of 95 MPH at AAA registered only 90-92.  Five runs scored, four earned which leaves his ERA at 108.00!

After Hearn was replaced, the night only got worse for Texas.  14-2 was the final score, the most runs allowed in a game this year by the Rangers.  To save an inning on the bullpen, catcher Jeff Mathis pitched the eighth inning, retiring three of the four batters he faced.

Hearn complained of soreness in his forearm after he was relieved.  He was placed on the injured list on Friday and will be shut down from throwing for three weeks and then reassessed.  He likely will not be back on the mound in a game situation until June.

The Rangers also sent Jeffrey Springs to the minors.  Ariel Jurado and Wei-Chieh Huang were added to the roster to bring fresh arms to the bullpen.  Rougned Odor was also activated from the injured list and Patrick Wisdom was optioned to Nashville before Friday’s game.  Asdrubal Cabrera also left Thursday’s game with a leg injury but the Rangers held off on making a roster move to see how he fared, and he did not play again in the series.

Friday’s game was especially disappointing.  Texas trailed 4-2 going into the eighth inning, but pushed across single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

It was still tied when Seattle came to bat in the 11th inning.  Kyle Dowdy gave up a single and then walked two batters after retiring Seattle’s first batter.  Mitch Haniger then grounded to Forsythe at third base.  Forsythe opted to try for the inning ended double play.  However, he didn’t get the ball out of his glove cleanly, and the only out recorded was the force at second base.  The runner on third scored to end the game.

Dowdy is 1-1 with the loss.  Roenis Elias, Seattle’s eighth pitcher in the game, is 2-0 with the win.

The two big wins Saturday and Sunday salvaged what looked to be a horrid week.  The Rangers actually ended the week with a positive run differential of plus two (46-44).  They finished the week with a 14-13 record still over .500 with one game left in April.  They woke up Monday morning in third place, 2.5 games behind division leader Houston, but tied in the loss column with second place Seattle that has played four more games than Texas.

This week the Rangers get Monday and Thursday off sandwiching in a two game series with Pittsburgh.  Adrian Sampson (0-1) and Shelby Miller (1-1) are the announced starting pitchers for Texas.  Tuesday’s game starts at 7:05, and Wednesday’s game  is an afternoon matinee starting at 1:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus played his 1,500th game as a Ranger on Friday night.  He is the fifth player to play that many games as a Ranger.  The other four are Michael Young, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Sundberg, and Ivan Rodriguez.

*     Former Rangers’ hitting coach and Dallas native Rudy Jaramillo was inducted into the Dallas ISD Athletics Hall of Fame.  Jaramillo is recognized as one of the greatest hitting coaches of all time, and his Major League resume includes stints with both Texas teams – 15 years with Texas and four years with Houston.

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SWEPT BY THE BAY

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers were swept in a series for the first time this season, losing three straight games in the city by the city by the bay.  The Oakland Athletics won all three games and left the Rangers’ starting rotation in shreds.

Mike Minor and Lance Lynn have been the Rangers two best starting pitchers.  Both came into the series off three solid starts including a complete game shutout by Minor last week.   The pair opened the series with Minor going Monday in game one and Lynn a day later.  Neither pitched well as the A’s clinched the series with wins both days.

Minor said after Monday’s game, “I couldn’t locate the fastball.  (The) slider wasn’t there, and the changeup was kind of flat.”  Minor cranked out six innings, allowing four runs.

Lynn made no excuses after Tuesday’s game.  He said his performance was “Terrible.  It wasn’t there tonight.”  Lynn lasted just 3-1/3rd innings giving up eight earned runs on nine hits.

Minor and Lynn are both 2-2 after getting tagged with the losses.

The offense wasn’t good either.  On Monday, Patrick Wisdom doubled home the only Ranger run of the game in the seventh inning.  6-1 was the final score.

On Tuesday, Texas scratched out five runs, but three of them came in the final four innings after Oakland had taken a commanding 10-2 lead.  Danny Santana got three hits and drove in two runs with his second home run.  Texas had lots of scoring opportunities, but went 3-13 with runners in scoring position, as the A’s won 11-5.

Drew Smyly was the scheduled starter for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but he was placed on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday with mid-arm tightness in his left (throwing) arm.  Reliever Wei-Chieh Huang was called up from AAA Nashville and gave up two runs on three hits Tuesday night in his Major League debut.

Ranger manager Chris Woodward decided to go with Kyle Dowdy for Wednesday’s start, in what effectively became a bullpen game.  Dowdy gave up three runs in three innings, all scoring on Marcus Semien’s fourth home run.

Jesse Chavez followed Dowdy and gave up two runs in two innings, one of which came on Matt Chapman’s eighth home run.  Adrian Sampson, the announced starting pitcher for Thursday’s game in Seattle, relieved Chavez and completed three scoreless innings.  He was the only Ranger pitcher to appear in this game that wasn’t scored upon.

The Rangers’ offense kept the team in the game.  Nomar Mazara hit a pair of home runs, both solo shots, and Logan Forsythe hit his second (another solo shot) as the Rangers stayed close.  They tied the game at five in the seventh inning with catcher Jeff Mathis scoring on a wild pitch.

In the Rangers’ ninth inning, two walks put runners on first and second with one out.  Delino DeShields then grounded to short for what was called an inning ending double play.  Replays showed that second baseman Jurickson Profar was clearly off second base when he tried to make the first out.  However, Woodward didn’t properly notify the umpires of his intention to request a replay review of the play.  The umpires did not allow the review, and the double play call stood.

Oakland then walked off with the win in their half of the ninth.  A single and a stolen base put Stephen Piscotty in scoring position.  He scored on a two out single by Chad Pinder, as the A’s won 6-5.  Chris Martin (0-2) was the losing pitcher.

The Rangers and Athletics are now virtually tied for third place in the American League West.  Both teams trail first place Houston by 2.5 games, but Texas leads Oakland by percentage points.

The Rangers now move on to Seattle for four games.  They confirmed that Taylor Hearn, their top AAA pitching prospect, will join the team and start Thursday’s game.  Huang was optioned to Nashville to make room for Hearn on the active roster.  Shelby Miller (1-1), Minor (2-2) and Lynn (2-2) are the announced starting pitchers for Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s games.  Game times are 9:10 PM (Central) on Thursday and Friday, 8:10 PM (Central) on Saturday and 3:10 PM (Central) on Sunday afternoon.

NOTABLE:

*     Joey Gallo was named the American League “Player of the Week” for the week ending April 21.  He hit .478 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.  It was the first time in his career to win the award.

*     Taylor Hearn is a Dallas area native that played in high school at Royse City.  He was 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA in four starts at Nashville and is ranked as the number 11 prospect in the Rangers’ farm system by MLB.com.

 

 

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BEST WEEK OF THE SEASON!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers closed out their best week of the season, by taking the final two games of their three game series with the Houston Astros.  They finished the week with five wins in six games, and closed out the home stand with six wins in eight games. The Rangers have moved solidly into third place in the American League West at 12-8, just one-half game behind Houston and 1.5 games behind league leading Seattle.

Houston came into the series as the hottest team in baseball winning 10 of their previous 11 games, and the pitching match-ups in this series heavily favored the Houstonians.  However, the Rangers scrambled back after losing game one to Justin Verlander to score 20 runs on Saturday and Sunday to win the series.

Verlander last faced the Rangers on April 2, completing just four innings in a game Texas won.  He looked intent on paying the Rangers back in this weekend’s opening game, as he tossed seven innings of one run ball en route to a 7-2 win.  He gave up three hits and walked three of the 27 batters he faced.  One of those hits was a Danny Santana home run, his first as a Ranger

The first three batters of the game scored to give the Astros an early 3-0 lead.  George Springer doubled, and he was followed by home runs from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman.  All three hits were clocked with exit velocity in excess of 100 MPH.

Drew Smyly was the Ranger starting pitcher that was rocked with those round trippers.  He lasted 3-2/3rds innings and needed 102 pitches to do it.  He was touched for four runs on five hits, though he did strike out eight of the 11 batters he retired.

Joey Gallo hit a mammoth home run, his seventh, in the ninth inning for the Rangers’ other score.  Verlander is 3-0 with the win, while Smyly drops to 0-2 with the loss.

Saturday’s game was similar in flow with the roles reversed.  This time it was the Rangers that took the early lead, scoring five first inning runs.  Shin-Soo Choo doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and promptly scored on Santana’s single.  Two walks followed to load the bases, and a one out single scored two more.  The final two runs scored on another hit and an Astro fielding error.

Adrian Sampson was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he lasted into the fifth inning.  He ended up allowing two runs on seven hits.  Shawn Kelley relieved and was credited with the win.  He’s 3-0.

Texas added another run in the third inning on Gallo’s eighth home run.  Gallo doubled in the fifth inning and scored again on an Asdrubal Cabrera single.  Delino DeShields closed out the Rangers’ scoring later in the inning with a two run triple to make the final score 9-4.

Gerrit Cole was the Astros’ starting and losing pitcher.  He gave up all nine runs, a career high.  Cole is 1-3 on the season.

Sunday’s game started like Saturday’s.  The Rangers again scored runs early with three in the first inning.  Gallo tripled home two runs and scored on Hunter Pence’s sacrifice fly.  The Astros got one run back in the third inning on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly, but the Rangers immediately answered with four runs in their half of the inning.  Gallo drove in the first run with a groundout, and Pence and Logan Forsythe each homered.  Pence’s came with a man on base to give the Rangers a seemingly commanding lead at 7-1.

The seemingly commanding lead grew to 10-1 with three more Ranger runs in the fourth inning.  Elvis Andrus doubled home two runs, and Gallo hit a sacrifice fly.

Shelby Miller was the Ranger’s starting pitcher, and he became just the second starting pitcher not named Mike Minor or Lance Lynn to complete five innings in a game.  Miller held the Astros to one run through five innings, but he was greeted with a pair of home runs leading off the sixth inning by Bregman and Brantley.  He retired Carlos Correa on a pop out for the only out he would record in the inning.  Yuri Gurriel then reached on an error and Miller’s day was done.

Jeffrey Springs relieved and gave up a single and a triple before getting the last two outs on a sacrifice fly and a strikeout.  When the dust had cleared, it was game on at 10-6.

Gallo singled home a run in the bottom of the sixth to get the lead back to five runs at 11-6.  It was a strange hit – a high pop that at first looked to be coming down in short right field, but got wind blown to short left field, where five Astros surrounded it, but none caught it.

Houston got two runs back in the eighth inning on solo home runs by Correa and Josh Reddick.  The ninth inning was much more tense for Texas.  Jose Leclerc took the mound to earn the save, but he had control problems.  He was greeted by a Springer home run to start the inning, closing the Ranger lead to 11-9.  A walk, a line out to right field and a strikeout brought Leclerc within one out of earning that save.  He couldn’t get it.  He walked the next three batters to make it a one run game at 11-10.

At that point, Leclerc had thrown 36 pitches, only 17 of which were strikes, and manager Chris Woodward made the change bringing in  veteran Shawn Kelley.  Kelley did the job, striking out Robinson Chirinos for the save, his first of the year.

The Rangers now hit the road next week for three games in Oakland and four in Seattle.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (2-1) on Monday, Lance Lynn (2-1) on Tuesday and Drew Smyly (0-2) on Wednesday.  Game times are 9:07 PM (Central) on Monday and Tuesday, and 2:37 PM (Central) on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers at 12-8 are four games over .500 for the first time since 2016.  They also hold a 4-2 lead over the Astros for the treasured Silver Boot trophy that goes to the winner of the season series between the two Texas teams.

*     Joey Gallo is a solid candidate for American League Player of the Week as he hit .478 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

*     The schedule can be strange at times.  After Sunday’s play the Astros have played six of their 21 games at their home field – Minute Maid Park in Houston – and have played the same number against the Rangers in Globe Life Ballpark.

*     Joey Gallo’s sacrifice fly was his first in the Major Leagues after more than 1,300 plate appearances.

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RANGERS BREAK OUT THE BROOMS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers broke out the brooms Wednesday night as they completed a three game series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.  Texas played solid baseball.  They outscored the Angels 18-11 and did not commit an error.  The Rangers have now won a season high four games in a row that has moved them into third place in the American League West, just 1.5 games (one in the loss column) behind the first place Houston Astros, the team that comes to town this weekend for a three game series.

Monday night’s series opening game looked a lot like last Sunday’s series finale against Oakland.  The Angels took the early lead as they scored three runs in the first inning, and another in the third inning to lead 4-1.  Shelby Miller was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he again did not last through the fifth inning.  He gave up the four runs on six hits and three walks.

After falling behind, the Rangers’ big bats showed up.  They scored three runs in the third inning to tie the game, four more in the fifth inning to take an 8-4 lead, and three more in the sixth inning to essentially put the game away en route to a 12-7 win.  Asdrubal Cabrera and Joey Gallo each hit their fifth home run of the season, and Shin-Soo Choo hit his first of the year as the Rangers posted 14 hits in all, six of which went for extra bases.

Kyle Dowdy relieved Miller and allowed a run in 2-2/3rds innings to qualify for the win.  Kyle Bird followed Dowdy to the mound.  He gave up two runs in the eighth inning, and loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning by hitting a batter and walking two more.  That turned the game into a save opportunity, and Ranger manager Chris Woodward called on closer Jose LeClerc for the final out.  He coaxed a ground out to short stop that ended the game.

Dowdy earned the win.  He’s 1-0.  Leclerc was credited with his fourth save.  Los Angeles reliever Cam Bedrosian was the losing pitcher.  He’s 1-1.

Tuesday night’s story was starting pitcher Mike Minor.  He threw a complete game shutout, and received home run support from team leaders Cabrera and Gallo, who both hit their sixth of the year, as the Rangers won 5-0.

First pitch strikes are always good to throw.  Minor faced 30 batters and threw first pitch strikes to 24 of them.  He retired 23 of those batters.  He gave up three hits and walked two batters.  His record improved to 2-1 with the win.  The Angels’ Jaime Barria started and was charged with the loss after he gave up four runs in five innings.  He’s 1-1.

On Wednesday, Lance Lynn struggled early giving up single runs in the second and third innings to put the Angels ahead 2-0.  Lynn did right the ship to pitch into the sixth inning, giving up just the two runs on seven hits and three walks.  He struck out two batters and threw 102 pitches.  Lynn has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his four starts.

Two Angels’ fielding errors in the fourth inning put a run on the scoreboard for Texas.  An inning later, the Rangers took charge of the game.  The first three batters singled to tie the game at 2-2.  Choo then drove home a pair of runs with a triple and later scored on Danny Santana’s double to put the Rangers in front 5-2.

Chris Martin gave up a run in the eighth inning, and Leclerc gave up another before closing out the Angels in the ninth inning to make the final score 5-4.  Lynn is 2-1 with the win, and Mike Harvey (0-2) was charged with the loss.  Leclerc earned his fifth save.

The home stand finishes this weekend with three games against Houston.  It’s the second trip to Arlington for the Astros in this young season.  They lost two of three games to the Rangers on April 1, 2 & 3, but has lost just one game since that series.  They have taken over first place from the Mariners in the A. L. West with a 12-6 record.  The announced pitching match-ups are Justin Verlander (2-0) vs. Drew Smyly (0-1) on Friday night, Gerrit Cole (1-2) vs. Adrian Sampson (0-1) on Saturday night, and Collin McHugh (3-1) vs. Shelby Miller (0-1) on Sunday afternoon.  The night games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM, and the Sunday afternoon game’s start time is 2:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     Prior to Tuesday night, Mike Minor had one complete game in his career, and it was an eight inning complete game.  He had never thrown a pitch in the ninth inning as a starting pitcher until Tuesday’s shutout.  He threw 103 pitches Tuesday.

*     Lance Lynn had three walks in his first three starts of the season, but matched that total with three walks Wednesday night.

*     The rained out game last Saturday will be made up as part of a day/night doubleheader on June 8.  The makeup game will start at 1:05 PM along with the regularly scheduled game against Oakland at 8:05 PM.

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OAKLAND & TEXAS SPLIT

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers split a pair of games this weekend after the scheduled game on Saturday was postponed due to rain.  The games were almost identical in flow with strong bullpen and diligent offensive performances deciding each game.

The Rangers won on Sunday after trailing 7-2 going to the fifth inning.  Ranger starting pitcher Adrian Sampson gave up single runs in the first, second and third innings.  His outing turned into a disaster in the fourth inning after he retired the first two batters.  A four pitch walk to Jurickson Profar started the downfall.  Three singles and a double followed as the A’s score four times to take the 7-2 lead.

Texas had plated two runs on just one hit in the first inning.  Delino DeShields led off and reached first base on a throwing error.  Smoking hot Elvis Andrus followed with a triple and later stole home.

DeShields figured in the Rangers’ third run in the fifth inning as he doubled, stole third base and scored on a groundout to make the score 7-3.

The recently maligned Ranger bullpen put together five shutout innings after Sampson’s start.  Jesse Chavez, Jeanmar Gomez, Jeffrey Springs and Jose LeClerc followed Sampson, with Gomez going two innings.  Gomez struck out the side in the sixth inning to turn in his best performance of the year.

Andrus homered in the seventh inning to cut the A’s lead to three runs at 7-4.

That led to the dramatic eighth inning.  A single, a forceout and a walk put Ranger base runners on first and second with one out.  Asdrubal Cabrera singled home a run to make the score 7-5.  Danny Santana was then summoned from the Ranger bench to pinch hit.  Santana was taking his first Major League at-bat of the season after being called up Saturday, and he made the most of it.  He tripled to tie the game at seven!

Jeff Mathis pop foul was the second out bringing DeShields to the plate.  With a 1-1 count, DeShields dropped a bunt toward third base.  Catcher Josh Phegley charged out to retrieve the bunted ball, but his throw to first base was late, and Santana scored from third on the play to give the Rangers the lead at 8-7, which was the final score after Jose Leclerc finished off Oakland in the ninth inning.

Springs was the winning pitcher.  He’s 2-0.  Leclerc earned his third save of the year.  Joakim Soria (0-2) took the loss for Oakland.

The Rangers got off to the seemingly commanding lead in Friday night’s series opening game.  The first two Ranger batters of the game, Shin-Soo Choo and Logan Forsythe, each doubled.  Forsythe later scored to give Texas a 2-0 lead.

Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the fourth inning, a solo shot that pushed the Rangers’ lead to 3-1.  Andrus seemingly put the game away with a three run home run in the fifth inning to make the score 6-1.

Drew Smyly was the Ranger starting pitcher and the good Ranger story of the game.  He came into Friday night’s tilt with the A’s with an 0-1 record and 7.11 ERA in his first two starts in which he totaled just 6-1/3rd innings.  On Friday night though; he was dominant for five innings.  He allowed one run on three hits, striking out five and walking no one to become the first Ranger starting pitcher not named Mike Minor or Lance Lynn to complete five innings.

Ranger manager Chris Woodward should have taken five strong innings and called it a night, but he chose to run Smyly out to the mound in the sixth, and his outing fell apart.  Phegley singled leading off the inning, and Smyly walked the next two batters to end his night on the mound.

Those three base runners scored to ruin Smyly’s stat line on the night.  Chavez relieved, and the first two batters he faced singled and grounded into a run scoring fielder’s choice to clear the loaded bases Chavez inherited.  Chavez then gave up a double to score the runner he’d put on base to bring the A’s to within a run at 6-5.

Oakland tied the game in the seventh inning with Ramon Laureano’s home run off Shawn Kelley and took the lead in the eighth inning with Khris Davis’s home run off Chris Martin.  Oakland added an insurance run in the ninth to make the final score 8-6.

Davis is a noted Ranger killer.  His home run Friday was his 10th of this young season, clearly leading the Major Leagues, and it was Davis’s 29th career home run against the Rangers.

The Rangers are still at .500 at 7-7 in the third week of the season, and still in last place as the other four teams in the American League West have records over .500.  They open a three game series Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels.  Shelby Miler (0-1), Mike Minor (1-1) and Lance Lynn (1-1) are the announced pitchers for Texas.

ROSTER MOVES: Rougned Odor “tweaked” his right knee during Friday’s batting practice and was scratched from the Rangers’ starting lineup prior to the game.  On Saturday, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sprained knee, and infielder Danny Santana was summoned from AAA Nashville to take his place on the active roster.  Edinson Volquez was moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to make room on the 40-man roster for Santana.  Volquez did not have an MRI this past week as originally planned.  He reports feeling much better, so the prognosis is to shut him down from throwing for six weeks, and see how he feels.  Since he was going to be shut down for six weeks, it was decided to hold off on the MRI to give the swelling more time to subside.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus is clearly the hottest Ranger at the plate.  He had three hits Sunday and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.  That brought his batting average up to .414.  He has 24 hits in 14 games.

*     Jurickson Profar, a former Ranger and a fan favorite among many Arlington fans, made his first appearance this weekend as a Ranger opponent.  He played second base for Oakland and went 2-6 at the plate with one RBI.  A good performance, but overall he’s off to a slow start hitting only .191 after Sunday’s game.

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