IT IS DONE

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The last day of Major League baseball at Globe Life Park, nee The Ballpark in Arlington, came and went last Sunday.  On the field, the Rangers beat the Yankees 6-1 to take two wins in the final series at the park.

It was another hot day with a start time temperature of 91, but it did not dissuade fans from attending.  There were enormous lines to get into the stadium more than an hour before the first pitch, and the official number for the sellout crowd was 47,144.

It was nice that the Rangers won, but the day was not really about a game on the field.  It was a day to celebrate the ballpark.  Globe Life Field became the nicest ballpark ever to get replaced.  The gorgeous exterior, the beautiful arches, the grass field, the remembrances of old ballparks that no longer exist such as Tiger Stadium’s home run porch in right field.  It’s a gem and still one of the 10 most beautiful parks in Major League baseball.

On the field, Lance Lynn turned in the best pitching performance of the day in Major League baseball.  He completed 7.1 innings, allowing just two hits.  One was a home run off the bat of Aaron Judge, his 27th of the season.  The other was a Gary Sanchez single.  He struck out 10 Yankees.

Manager Chris Woodward sent Lynn out for the eighth inning only to allow him to push his pitch count over 100 to keep his streak of consecutive games with at least 100 pitches alive.  Sunday was his team record 31st.  Lynn is certainly the work horse of this year’s pitching staff, leading the team with 16 wins, 208.1 innings pitched and 246 strikeouts.  His 3.67 ERA was seventh best in the American League.

One batter into the eighth inning pushed Lynn over the 100 pitch mark.  Woodward was out of the dugout immediately to remove Lynn from the game which also allowed the big pitcher to leave the field to a rousing standing ovation from appreciative fans.

Jose Leclerc finished the game allowing a single to Clint Frazier.  Leclerc retired the other five batters he faced – three by strikeout.  The honor of being the last batter in a Major League game at the park went to Giancarlo Stanton, who struck out to end the game.

Before the game began, long time season ticket holders paraded in along the outfield warning track.  Long time employees paraded onto the field to assemble around the edge of the infield.

When the first American League game was played in 1994, the most stirring rendition of the National Anthem ever was played by world renown pianist Van Cliburn along with the Ft. Worth symphony orchestra.  Van Cliburn is no longer with us, but the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra played the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s game.

After the game, there was a parade to take home plate from Globe Life Ballpark to the new field.  Prior to the parade, the all-time Globe Life Ballpark team was introduced.  There were a number of tremendous standing ovations for players such as Josh Hamilton, the most talented player to ever wear a Ranger uniform, Rafael Palmeiro, future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre, and the face of the franchise for so many years – Michael Young.

Four of the all-time players sounded like they were booed.  Shin-Soo Choo was met with a chorus of “Chooooooooo”.  Nelson Cruz was met with a strong chorus of ”Cruuuuuuz”.  Yu Darvish was met with a loud “Yuuuuuuu”.

The sounds greeting the announcement of Alex Rodriguez though were clearly ”boos”.  A shame.  Arod royally deserved to be recognized.  He was with Texas for three seasons - 2001, 2002 and 2003.  He played in all but one game during those three years.  He hit 156 home runs, an average of 52 per year. He was the American League MVP in 2003.

Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia announced before the game that he planned to retire after the season.  Early in the game, Chuck Morgan announced Sabathia’s intention to the crowd, which responded with a rousing ovation for Sabathia.  He’s been a marvelous pitcher for years and will get serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.

The largest ovation on the day however came before the game began.  Kenny Rogers was announced as one of the all-time Globe Life Ballpark team, and he trotted out of the Ranger dugout to home plate.  Odd.  The question was why home plate?  Why not the pitchers mound?

The answer came quickly.  Former Ranger pitcher and team President Nolan Ryan came out of the Ranger dugout to deliver the ceremonial first pitch.  Ryan got the biggest ovation.

NOTABLE:

*     The two officers that ran the ball club when the stadium was built were in attendance Sunday – Tom Schieffer and George Bush.  They also were recognized to a hearty ovation from fans.

*     Rangers’ outfielder David Hulse got the first hit in 1994, while Yankees’ outfielder Clint Frazier got the last hit.  Milwaukee’s David Nilsson hit the first home run, and New York’s Aaron Judge hit the last one.

*     North Texas Soccer Club, which is owned and operated by FC Dallas, will play their USL League One games at the Ballpark for the next three seasons.  The XFL’s Dallas Renegades will play their home games there beginning in February.

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BOSOX TAKE TWO

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Last year’s World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, came to Arlington this week, but surprisingly, they like the Rangers had already been eliminated from post season play this year.  The Sox however, showed their offensive muscle to take two of three games from Texas.

Tuesday’s opening game was a slug fest that Boston won 12-10.  The teams combined for 22 runs on 29 hits.  Nice game if you like offense.  Edinson Volquez was the Ranger “opener”, but he could not get out of the first inning.  The Red Sox knocked him around for four runs (all earned) on five hits.

Volquez has had a nice career winning 93 games since breaking into the Majors in 2005 with the Rangers.  He originally said this would be his last year, but recently he hinted that he might come back next year if the Rangers want him.  Hopefully, Tuesday’s outing will not be his final Major League appearance.

The Rangers came right back with four runs in their half of the first inning to tie the game, and both teams scored a single run in the second inning.  Game on at 5-5 going to the third!

However, Boston’s offense wasn’t slowing down.  Ariel Jurado followed Volquez to the mound and completed three innings, giving up another four runs on six hits.  The Sox led 8-5 going to the fifth inning, and then padded the lead with four more fifth inning runs.  Brett Martin gave up three on the night and Shawn Kelley gave up one.

The Rangers’ shoddy defense was a contributing factor.  Two errors led to five of the 12 runs being unearned.  Rougned Odor homered in the fifth to drive in two runs.  Danny Santana and Scott Heineman drove in two more in the sixth inning, and Elvis Andrus brought home another in the seventh to pull the Rangers close at 12-10.

However, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman tossed scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth innings to bring home the 12-10 win for Boston.  Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox’ starter, lasted five innings giving up seven runs on 11 hits, but he got the win thanks to Boston’s offensive largesse.  He’s 19-6, and Workman earned his 16th save.  Jurado is 7-11 with the loss.

Wednesday was similar to Tuesday for Boston.  The Sox rallied from a 3-0 first inning deficit to tie the game in the second inning and take a 5-3 lead in the third.  The Rangers never scored again, as Boston added five more runs to make the final score 10-3.

Ranger starter Koby Allard took the loss.  He’s 4-2.  Boston starter Rick Porcello went to 14-12 in what was likely his final appearance with the Red Sox.

The finale was Thursday afternoon.  The projected high in the area was 95, but surprisingly, the start time temperature was just 89.  Mike Minor was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he was also the winning pitcher to go to 14-11 as the Rangers salvaged a 7-5 win to avoid a sweep

Six of the Ranger runs scored from home runs.  The big Ranger hit was a grand slam from Danny Santana in the fifth inning, his second slam of the year.  Willie Calhoun and Odor also hit solo shots.

The real focus of the game was on Ranger starter Mike Minor who needed nine strikeouts to reach a career high 200.  He started strong recording two in the first inning and striking out the side in the third.  After seven innings, Minor still needed one.

The Red Sox however seemed more determined to keep Minor from reaching 200 than they did about winning a game in which they trailed by two runs.  Boston manager Joey Cora directed his hitters to swing at the first pitch, and amazingly, Minor was able to retire the Sox on three pitches in the eighth inning.

Minor said after the game that he felt the Red Sox were “messing with him” in the eighth inning.  He decided to “mess with them” in the ninth, throwing a knuckle ball to Sandy Leon leading off the inning.  It was the first time Minor had thrown a knuckle ball in a Major League game.

The 200th strikeout finally came in the ninth.  Chris Owings was called out for the second out of the inning on a pitch that ended Minor’s day on the mound, but not without controversy.  With one strike, Owings popped a foul ball toward first base.  Minor said after the game that both he and catcher Jose Trevino yelled at first baseman Ronald Guzman to let it drop.  Guzman did.  Instead of out number two, it was strike two to Owings.  Home plate umpire C. B. Buckner then gave Minor an assist with a called strike three on a larger than usual strike zone.

Jose Leclerc immediately relieved as Minor had thrown a season and career high 126 pitches.  Leclerc struck out the only batter he faced to earn his 14th save.  Minor is 14-10 with the win, and 14 wins is his career high.  It was a bullpen day for Boston, and Ryan Weber, the sixth Sox pitcher on the day, took the loss.  He’s 2-4.

Texas has clinched third place at 76-83.  The Yankees come to town this weekend to finish out the season and Major League baseball at Globe Life Ballpark.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Joe Palumbo (0-2) on Friday, TBD on Saturday and Lance Lynn (15-11) on Sunday.  Games times (all Central) are 7:05 PM on Friday and Saturday and 2:05 PM on Sunday.

 

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A BAD WEEK

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers beat Oakland Sunday 8-3 to end their last road trip of the year on a winning note.  It also ended a season high seven game losing streak, as the Rangers had been swept at home by Oakland the weekend before and dropped two more games to the Astros to go 0-9 in Minute Maid Park this season.

The week started Tuesday in Houston, and they faced the 2019 Cy Young Award winner.  No the Award winner has not been announced, but it is almost certain to be Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole.  That’s the starting pitchers Texas faced in Houston.

Lance Lynn was the Tuesday’s starting pitcher for Texas, and he matched Verlander zero for zero for the first four innings.  Yuri Gurriel homered off Lynn in the fifth to put Houston in front 1-0.  Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 3-0.

Nomar Mazara hit his 18th homer of the year in the seventh inning to cut the Astros’ lead to 3-1, but that was all the scoring on the night for Texas, as the Rangers managed just six hits.

Lynn gave up a fourth run in the seventh inning to finish his night.  He took the loss to go to 14-11.  Verlander left after allowing four hits over six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.50.  He’s 19-6.  Hector Rondon, Will Harris and Roberto Osuna pitched the final three innings with Osuna earning his 34th save.

On Wednesday, Cole won his 18th.  He allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings.  Kolby Allard pitched the first five innings for Texas giving up four hits.  Unfortunately for Allard, one of the four was a home run to Gurriel with a runner aboard.  Allard was thus the losing pitcher to fall to 4-1.

The Rangers cut the lead in half when they pushed across a run in the seventh inning.  Jose Altuve however answered with a solo home run in the Astros’ half of the seventh inning to recapture the two run lead.  Ronald Guzman homered for Texas in the eighth inning to complete the scoring on the night making the final score 3-2.

The road trip continued on Friday in Oakland, where the A’s were perhaps the hottest team in baseball.  Mike Minor was the Ranger starter in the opening game, but he didn’t slow down the A’s.  A three run home run in the first inning started Oakland’s scoring parade.  The lead doubled to 6-0 with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.  Minor gave up all six, and all were earned.

Meanwhile, Mike Fiers was simply magnificent for Oakland.  He was touched for just two hits, both singles, over eight innings.  The A’s added two more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make the final score 8-0.  Fiers is 15-4 with the win, and Minor is 13-10 with the loss.

Saturday’s game was more of the same.  Oakland jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning.  Ranger starter Brock Burke retired just two batters and the two relievers that followed him also failed to record three outs.  It was 11-0 by the sixth inning.

Elvis Andrus, Danny Santana and Nick Solak hit solo home runs to put the Rangers on the scoreboard, but 12-3 was the final score.  Burke is 0-2 with the loss, and Oakland starter Sean Manea went to 3-0 with the win.

In Sunday’s final road game of the season, the Rangers took charge early with four first inning runs.  They added one more in the third, two more in the fourth and one more in the fifth inning.  Choo and Mazara homered.  Willie Calhoun homered twice.  The final score was 8-3.

Lynn started and gave up two runs on seven hits.  He’s 15-11 with the win.  Oakland starting pitcher Tanner Roark took the loss to go to 10-9.

When the Rangers took two of three against Tampa Bay earlier this month, their record stood at .500.  They spoke of trying to maintain that record for the season.  The seven game losing streak foiled that plan.  They come home six games under .500 at 75-81.  The opponents this week are Boston and New York.  It’s not likely they’ll win all six to reach .500.

The week also pointed up how far the Rangers need to go to be a factor in the American League West again.  Houston and Oakland are first and second in the division.  Both have a solid nucleus going forward.  Injuries have definitely slowed the Rangers in the second half of the season, particularly those to Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence.  However, Oakland and Houston each have a better starting rotation, bullpen and offense than the Rangers.

The announced starting pitchers for Texas in the Boston series are Edinson Volquez (0-1) opening for Ariel Jurado (7-10) on Tuesday, Kolby Allard (4-1) on Wednesday, and Mike MInor (13-10) on Thursday.  The game times are 7:05 PM (Central) on Tuesday and Wednesday and 1:05 PM on Thursday.

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RANGERS TAKE TWO FROM TAMPA

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers opened the week by winning a three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays two games to one.  The Rays are in a close race with Oakland and Cleveland for the two Wild Card berths, so every game is crucial for them.  The two losses dropped them behind Oakland for the number one Wild Card berth.  The wins for Texas brought the Rangers’ season record back to .500 at 74-74.  It was also Texas’s first series win over a team with a winning record since they took two out of three from St. Louis in May.

The series opened with a fantastic game to watch.  Lance Lynn pitched great!  He completed seven innings allowing a run on four hits.

Texas took the lead with three runs in the fourth inning.  Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch leading off the inning.  He scored on Willie Calhoun’s double, and Nick Solak followed with his third home run.

However, the Rays got a run off Lynn in the fifth inning, and they tied the game in the eighth when Joey Wendle led off with a triple and Austin Meadows homered off Rafael Montero.  That cost Lynn the chance to be the winning pitcher.

The game stayed tied into the 11th inning.  A throwing error by Rougned Odor with two outs and two runners on base pushed across a go ahead run for the Rays.  A second unearned run scored on the single that followed.

Former Ranger Pete Fairbanks pitched the bottom of the 11th.  He gave up two hits, but kept Texas off the scoreboard to record his first Major League save.  Emilio Pagan (4-2) got the win, and Emmanuel Clase was the hard luck loser moving his record to 2-3.

Texas came back to win an amazing offensive game on Wednesday.  Tampa scored two in the first inning off Ranger starter Ariel Jurado.  Not to worry.  The Rangers came back in a bull rush as the first five Ranger hitters of the night scored.  The Rangers sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning, and seven of them scored to seemingly take control of the game.  Elvis Andrus had two hits in the inning.

That was a dream.  The Rays came back in the second inning to score five runs to tie the game and chase Jurado to the showers.  Tampa Bay broke the tie with a fourth inning run.  In the eighth inning with two outs, Solak singled, Danny Santana walked and Odor homered to put the Rangers in front 10-8.

Ji-Man Choi homered in the ninth inning to make the final score 10-9.  Ian Gibaut was the winning pitcher.  He’s 1-0.  Jose Leclerc got the save, his 12th, despite giving up Choi’s home run.  Colin Poche took the loss to fall to 4-5.

Thursday’s finale was another teriffic game.  Kolby Allard started for Texas and looked on target for his fifth win.  He gave up a run in the second inning after the Rangers had given him a 1-0 lead in the first.

Three one out singles in the fourth inning broke the tie.  Delino DeShields later scored on a wild pitch, and Solak hit his second home run of the series to make the score 5-1.

Allard ran into trouble though in the fifth inning.  He retired none of the five batters he faced and three of them scored to pull Tampa Bay to within a run.  Luke Farrell relieved and became the pitcher of record for the win since Allard did not complete five innings.  He pitched two sparkling innings.

Three Ranger relievers limited the Rays to two hits and no runs over the final three innings to secure the win.  Odor homered in the eighth inning to make the final score 6-4.  Farrell (1-0) got his first win as a Ranger, and Leclerc earned his 13th save.  Rays’ starter Brendan McKay (2-4) was tagged with the loss.

The Rangers now have 14 games remaining.  This weekend, Oakland comes to town for three games.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Brock Burke (0-1) on Friday night, Mike Minor (13-8) on Saturday, and TBD on Sunday.  Games times (all Central) are 7:05 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 PM on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     There were five Rangers on the active roster that have previously been part of the Rampa Bay Rays organization:  Nick Solak, who had six hits in 11 at bats in the series, Brock Burke, Ian Gibaut, Taylor Guerrieri, and Logan Forsythe.

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FOUR GAME ROAD SWEEP!

Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers routed the Baltimore Orioles Sunday afternoon 10-4 to complete a four game road sweep.  Baltimore with just 46 wins on the season is not a strong opponent, but irrespective of the quality of the opponent, four game road sweeps are rare.  The last in Ranger history was a four game sweep more than six years ago in August of 2013 against Houston.

The four wins brought the Ranger record to one game under .500 at 72-73 raising the possibility that Texas can finish at .500 or better.  There are 12 home games compared with just five road games remaining on the Rangers’ schedule, though all 17 games are against teams with winning records.

The series opened Thursday with a terrifically played game.  The Orioles’ John Means shut out Texas over the first six innings.  Ranger starter Kolby Allard was almost as good.  He gave up a lead-off double in the sixth inning to Trey Mancini, who moved to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly, to give Baltimore a 1-0 lead.

Elvis Andrus led off the Ranger seventh inning with a single, and two batters later, Nick Solak hit his second Major League home run to put the Rangers in front 2-1.  Solak walked in the ninth inning and later scored an insurance run to make the final score 3-1.

Allard’s record went to 4-0 with the win.  Jose Leclerc finished off the Birds in the ninth to earn his 10th save.  Means was charged with the loss to go to 10-10.

Friday night, the offenses started fast.  Each team knocked a pair of home runs over the first three innings.  Willie Calhoun and Mancini hit solo shots in the first inning.  Richie Martin hit a three run shot in the bottom of the second, but Calhoun matched it with a three run shot in the top of the third inning making the score 4-4.  It was Calhoun’s first career two home run game.

Anthony Santander hit a two run home run in the Birds’ fifth to break the tie and put Baltimore in front 6-4.  The Rangers went back ahead with three seventh inning runs.  A double and two walks loaded the bases to start the inning.  All three runners scored on the two singles that followed.

Brock Burke struggled through five innings as the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  He admitted after the game that he had lost eight or nine pounds from a stomach virus, but knew the team needed some innings Friday night with a bullpen game scheduled for Saturday.  He gave up all six runs, but the Rangers were in the game when he left.

Four relievers blanked the Orioles over the final four innings for the 7-6 win.  Brett Martin (2-3) was the winning pitcher, and Leclerc earned his 11th save.  Orioles’ reliever Paul Fry took the loss to go to 1-8.

The Rangers exploded for six first inning runs to start Saturday’s game.  The first six Ranger hitters of the game reached base and scored, with Rougned Odor driving in the final two with his 23rd home run.  Baltimore struck back with three first inning runs off Jonathan Hernandez, who pitched into the third inning.

Johander Mendez followed Hernandez to the mound and was the star of the game.  He made his Ranger 2019 debut after suffering with an elbow injury for most of the season.  He retired seven batters – six by strikeout and was awarded the win.  He’s 1-0.

Odor unquestionably had been struggling as he was hitting .193 after Thursday’s game.  On Saturday though, he broke out with two more hits to go with his first inning home run to finish 3-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs.  He was finally above the Mendoza line at .202.

Orioles starter Aaron Brooks took the loss in the 9-4 Ranger win.  Brooks is 4-8.

Sunday’s rout started early.  Texas scored one in the first inning, three more in the second, and added single runs in the third and fourth innings to lead 6-1.  Texas added four more runs in the sixth and seventh innings to support Mike Minor’s eight inning, two run effort.

Odor homered again and went 2-5 to bring his average up to .204.  That’s still an embarrassingly low number, but it’s up 11 points in three days, and Odor does lead the Rangers in home runs and RBIs.  Ronald Guzman went 3-5 and also homered.

Minor is 13-8 with the win and likely has four more starts left in the season.  Baltimore starter Asher Wojciechowski (2-8) took the loss.

Texas has an off day Monday.  The Tampa Bay Rays then come to Arlington for three games.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Lance Lynn (14-10) on Tuesday, Ariel Jurado (7-10) on Wednesday, and Kolby Allard (4-0) on Thursday.  The start time for all three games is 7:05 PM Central.

NOTABLE:

*     The sweep enabled the Rangers to finish the road trip with a 5-2 record.  The four-game sweep was also the first over Baltimore on the road since the 1972 season when the Rangers in their first year in Arlington won only 54 games total.

*     In Sunday’s game, the Rangers banged out 20 hits, and every starter had at least one base knock.

*     The final seventeen games break down as follows:  Houston for two and Oakland for three on the road, and three games each against Tampa Bay, Oakland, Boston and New York at home.

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YANKEES AT LAST

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The unbalanced schedule with each team playing 19 games against their four divisional opponents usually affords a preponderance of divisional games in September. What can be better than head-to-head competition to decide the division champion and perhaps a Wild Card berth?  Oddly this season, the schedule has most of the divisional play happening before September.  The Rangers have just nine September games against divisional foes, and 16 against American League East opponents.

The Rangers faced the Yankees for the first time this season to start the week.  New York took two out of three.  No surprise here.  The Yankees have lost just one series at home all season.  They are now 18-1-3 in home series.

The Rangers won game one behind a strong starting pitching effort from Mike Minor.  He shut out the Yankees over the first 7-1/3rd innings, and Shawn Kelley and Emmanuel Clase completed the shutout.  The final score was 7-0, with Minor winning his 12th game against eight losses.  The Yankees had gone 220 games without being shutout since June of 2018.

The Ranger batters touched Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka for two runs over the first six innings.  They added five more runs off of Nestor Cortes, Jr. and Tyler Lyons over the final three.  Tanaka is 10-8 with the loss.

That was the good news for Texas in this series.  The Rangers scored just twice more with ninth inning home runs from Scott Heineman and Rougned Odor in the second and third games of the series.  The final scores were 10-1 on Tuesday and 4-1 on Wednesday.  Starters Edinson Volquez (0-1) and Lance Lynn (14-10) were the losing pitchers.

James Paxton, the Yankees’ starting pitcher Tuesday, was almost untouchable.  He allowed just two base runners (a single and a walk) as he blanked the Rangers over seven innings on 95 pitches to improve to 12-6.  Four of the five Ranger pitchers that appeared in the game gave up a home run, as the Bronx Bombers lived up to their name by hitting five on the night.

The Yankees made Wednesday’s rubber match a bullpen game.  Six pitchers took the mound with Luis Cessa, the second pitcher in the game, getting the win.  He’s 2-1.  He labored through five innings on 108 pitches, allowing three runs.

The losses in the final two games put the Rangers five games under .500 at 68-73.  They now open a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Kolby Allard (3-0) on Thursday, Brock Burke (0-1) on Friday, TBA on Saturday, and Mike Minor (12-8) on Sunday.  These will be the last four games this year against an opponent with a losing record.  Game times (Central) are 6:05 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 12:05 PM on Sunday.

Last weekend, the Rangers split a four game series against the Seattle Mariners.  On Thursday, Lance Lynn started, and he pitched a fine game.  He gave up an earned run on four hits over six innings.  An egregious error on a dropped throw to first base charged him with two more unearned runs.  The Rangers rallied to tie the game at 3-3.  Jose Leclerc has been good sometimes and bad sometimes of late.  On this night, he wasn’t good, coughing up two runs in the ninth inning to take the loss in a 5-3 Seattle win.

On Friday, Kolby Allard started and gave up two runs over 5-1/3rd innings.  He got the win to go to 3-0 as the Rangers scored six runs on seven hits.  The score was 6-3.

On Saturday, the Rangers won again.  They scored two runs in the ninth to walk-off with a 3-2 win.  Elvis Andrus scored on an infield ground ball and Isiah Kiner-Felafa singled home the game winner.

The Rangers had the chance to win the series on Sunday, but it wasn’t to be.  Brett Martin as the opener, gave up four first inning runs. September call-up Luke Farrell followed Martin to the mound and gave up two more runs.  Seven Ranger pitchers ended up seeing action in a bullpen game that Texas lost 11-3.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers have allowed 198 home runs this season in 141 games.  That’s a pace to give up 227 round trippers for the season.  The club record is 220.

*     The Rangers dismissed their entire staff at AAA Nashville – manager Jason Wood, pitching coach Brian Shouse, and bullpen coach Eric Gagne.  Hitting coach Howard Johnson will not return, but may accept another position in the organization.  Also AA Frisco manager Joe Mikuluk was dismissed.

 

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RANGERS TAKE SEASON SERIES WITH ANGELS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

This week, the Texas Rangers split a two game series with the Los Angeles Angels to win the season series 10-9.  The Rangers come home for a weekend series with Seattle having gone 2-4 on the two city road trip.

On Tuesday, Mike Minor shut out the Angels for the first six innings, and the Rangers gave him a lead with Shin-Soo Choo singling in a third inning run.

The game fell apart for Texas in the seventh though.  Minor gave up a single and two walks to load the bases to start the inning.  A one out double and a two out single scored four runs for the Angels.

Each team scored a run in the eighth inning to make the final score 5-2.  The Rangers’ run came on Danny Santana’s 23rd home run.

Minor drops to 11-8, and his ERA is up to 3.25.  Angels reliever Miguel Del Pozo got the final out in the Ranger seventh inning to earn the win, his first in the Major Leagues.  Del Pozo was signed by the Rangers last December as a minor league free agent.  After going 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA in 42-2/3rds innings, the Rangers traded him to the Angels for cash considerations on August 9.

On Wednesday, the Rangers chose to open the game with Emmanuel Clase and follow him in the second inning with announced starter Ariel Jurado.  Clase loaded the bases with one out, but escaped scoreboard damage with an inning ending double play.

Jurado followed Clase to the mound and turned in a sparkling performance.  He got a big assist from Delino DeShields, who made arguably the Rangers’ catch of the year.  The fly off Brian Goodwin’s bat in the third inning was clearly over the fence, but DeShields hauled it in.  Jurado finished the night with six shut out innings on two hits to earn the win.  He’s 7-10.

Rafael Montero and Jose Leclerc finished off the eighth and ninth innings to complete the shutout.  Leclerc was credited with his ninth save.

Angels’ starter Patrick Sandoval was almost as good as Jurado.  The Angels’ starting pitcher blanked the Rangers over the first five innings on one hit.  Tuesday’s winning pitcher Del Pozo took the mound to start the sixth and retired just one of the three batters he faced.  A walk and a single put runners at first and second base and ended Del Pozo’s night.  Keynan Middleton relieved and gave up a single to Nick Solak that scored Elvis Andrus running from second base.  That tagged Del Pozo with the loss to make his record 1-1.

The Rangers added two more runs in the eighth inning.  Solak and Logan Forsythe singled and Isiah Kiner-Falefa doubled them home to conclude the scoring on the night to make the final score 3-0.

The Rangers come home for the weekend – a four game series with Seattle.  Lance Lynn (14-9) is Thursday’s starting pitcher.  It will be an interesting traffic night at the ballpark.  Game time is 7:05 PM and literally paces away from Globe Life Field, the Dallas Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at ATT Stadium with a 7:00 PM kickoff.

Friday night’s Ranger starting pitcher is Kolby Allard (2-0) and Saturday night’s starting pitcher is TBD.  Brock Burke (0-1) is likely to pitch Saturday, but the Rangers may use an opener in the first inning.

Saturday’s game will also present traffic problems as Auburn plays Oregon at ATT Stadium with a 6:30 PM start time.  Prior to Saturday’s game, the Rangers will honor Michael Young by retiring his uniform number 10.

Sunday’s starting pitcher is also listed as TBD.  This game will be the first after the rosters expand and is likely to be a bullpen day to give the starting rotation an extra day of rest.  Game times (all Central) are 7:05 PM for Friday and Saturday’s games.  Sunday’s start time is 2:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     Mike Trout homered Tuesday night, his 43rd this season and his 11th against the Rangers this year.   The 11 home runs against one team in a season is an Angel record as well as a Ranger record for opponent home runs given up to one player.

*     Rougned Odor went 0-4 in the series to drop his batting average to .193.  He has no hits in his last 26 at bats.

*     Tuesday’s loss dropped the Rangers five games under .500, tying the season high set in May.

*     Retired Texas Ranger Adrian Beltre attended Tuesday’s game.

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WHITE SOX TAKE SEASON SERIES

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Chicago White Sox took three out of four from the Texas Rangers this weekend, finishing Sunday afternoon with a one hit shutout of the Lawmen.  Chicago wins the season series four games to three.  Texas finished the week 4-4, with a 1.5 game lead over the Angels for third place in the American League West.  They are 21 games out of first place.  The division leading Astros have a magic number of 10 to mathematically eliminate the Rangers from winning the American League West.  Any combination of Astros’ wins and Rangers’ losses that add up to 10 will eliminate Texas.

The highlight of the weekend for Texas was Saturday evening’s game.  Kolby Allard started for Texas, his fourth start with Texas since coming over from Atlanta in a July 31 trade.  Allard pitched into the seventh inning, shutting out the Sox over 6-1/3rd innings on six hits.  He allowed no walks and struck out eight.

The final score was 4-0 as Rafael Montero and Jose Leclerc finished the whitewashing of Chicago.  White Sox starter Ivan Nova gave up two runs in 5-2/3rds innings to take the loss and go to 9-10 for the year.

Allard is 2-0 with the win.  He got run support from Willie Calhoun and Danny Santana, who each hit a two run home run.

Getting shutout Sunday was not a disaster.  Brock Burke, who had debuted last Tuesday with six shutout innings against the Angels, again completed six innings allowing a run on two hits.  He walked three and struck out five, but the Rangers managed just one hit in the game – a single from Shin-Soo Choo, such that Burke took the loss.  He’s 0-1.

Ariel Jurado started the series opener and got hit hard early.  The White Sox nicked him for a run in the second inning and four more in the third.  Manager Chris Woodward stuck with him though after coming into the series having played four games in three days, two of which went extra innings.  Jurado responded by completing the game allowing just one more run.

All the offense the Rangers could muster was a solo home run from Elvis Andrus making the final score 6-1.  The good news despite the loss was that the bullpen got a day off.  Jurado is 6-10 with the loss, while White Sox starter Ross (former Ranger) Detwiler pitched six innings of one run ball to get the win and improve to 2-3.

On Friday night, the Rangers pushed three runs across in the first inning on a home run by Calhoun.  Unfortunately, that was all the Rangers would score on the night.  The Rangers got just two more hits after the first inning.

Lance Lynn was the Ranger starting pitcher, and it wasn’t his best outing.  He did strike out 11, but gave up seven runs on seven hits over 5-2/3rds innings.  Lynn took the loss to go to 14-9.  The final score was 8-3, and Dylan Cease, the Sox’ starting pitcher, was the winner.  He’s 3-6.

The Rangers get a day off Monday and then open a two game series against the Angels.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (11-7) on Tuesday and Ariel Jurado (6-10) on Wednesday.  Game time for both games is 9:10 PM (Central).

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers scored just eight runs on 17 hits in the four game series, and all eight were driven in by home runs.  Willie Calhoun drove in five of the eight runs.

*     Hunter Pence did not play in this series because of lower back stiffness.  The Rangers hope he’ll be ready by Tuesday when the Angels’ series opens.

*     Brock Burke is the first Ranger pitcher ever to pitch at least six innings and allow one or fewer runs in his first two starts with Texas.  His ERA is 0.75!

*     The Rangers’ team batting average on the road is down to .231, the lowest in the American League.

*     Rougned Odor’s batting average is down to .195 and his OPS is .679.  For August, he is hitting .145 with a .553 OPS.

*     The Astros are 23-2 at home against the other four teams from the A. L. West.  Texas is 0-7 in two series, and play two more games in the Bayou City on September 18 and 19.

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THE BATTLE FOR THIRD PLACE

RANGERS TAKE SERIES WITH THREE WALK OFF WINS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels battled for third place in the American League West this week.  The Angels arrived with a one game lead over the fourth place Rangers, but Texas won three of four games to pull ahead of Los Angeles by one game – two in the loss column.  In each of the wins, the Rangers scored the winning run in their final at bat.  Two of the victories came in extra innings games.

Monday night’s game looked like it was decided shortly after the game began.  The Angels put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning, a rally capped by a three run Albert Pujols home run.  After two innings, the Angels led 7-1.

Kolby Allard was the Ranger starting pitcher that gave up the seven runs.  With a doubleheader staring the Rangers in the face on Tuesday, manager Chris Woodward elected to stick with Allard to save his bullpen, and he rewarded Woodward’s faith.  He held the Angels scoreless over the next three innings, facing just nine batters.  He retired eight of them, and the one that walked was erased by a double play.

Meanwhile, the Rangers’ offense began to chip away at the Angels’ lead.  Catcher Jose Trevino hit his first Major League home run in the fourth inning.  The Rangers loaded the bases in the fifth inning, and proceeded to unload them with a double and a ground out.  That brought the score to 7-5, and it was game on!

In the eighth inning, the Rangers tied the game on a pair of run scoring singles from Hunter Pence and Rougned Odor.  Four Ranger relievers held the Angels off the scoreboard in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

That sent the game to extra innings, and Rafael Montero continued the fine bullpen work on this night with two scoreless innings.  In the Rangers’ half of the 11th inning, Trevino walked with two outs.  He advanced to third on Shin-Soo Choo’s single, and scored on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s infield hit for the walk-off win.

Montero goes to 2-0 with the 8-7 win, while LA reliever Noe Ramirez took the loss.  He’s 4-2.

The Rangers split Tuesday’s doubleheader, but there was reason for optimism.  Nick Solak was summoned from AAA to replace Nomar Mazara on the active roster.  Mazara was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained quad.  Solak had been tearing up AAA pitching since the Rangers acquired him in a July trade with Tampa Bay.  He had at least one hit in all 18 games he had played at Nashville after the trade.  Ten of his hits were home runs.

In the day game of the doubleheader, Solak got his first hit, and then he hit his first Major League home run in the nightcap.  Solak’s home run was a solo shot in the fifth inning.  Two batters later, Trevino doubled and ultimately scored on Danny Santana’s single, making the score 2-0.

The two runs were good enough to lead the game because another rookie making his Major League debut – Brock Burke – pitched a masterful game as the starting pitcher.  He shut out the Angels over six innings, facing the top of the Angels’ batting order – which is about as good as any in baseball – three times.  He gave up four hits, walked two batters and struck out four.  Burke is now scheduled to start again on Sunday.

In the eighth inning, Shawn Kelley gave up a run, cutting the Rangers’ lead to 2-1.  In the ninth inning, Jose Leclerc was charged with a blown save when he gave up a home run to Brian Goodwin that tied the game.

It was extra innings again.  Emmanuel Clase still another rookies zipped through the Angels in the 10th and 11th innings.

In the Rangers’ 11th, Delino DeShields singled and stole second with two outs.  That brought Solak to the plate again.  In this day and age, most analytics indicate strikeouts don’t matter, and batters are definitely striking out in record numbers.  Solak however proved the analytics wrong.  He put the ball in play – a ground ball to first base.  It wasn’t a difficult chance for Pujols, but it somehow eluded the future Hall of Famers’ glove.  The speedy DeShields had no trouble scoring from second.  Ballgame!

Clase earned his first Major League win to go to 1-2.  Angels’ reliever Ty Buttrey took the hard luck loss to go to 6-6.

The afternoon game had gone to the Angels.  Joe Palumbo, still another rookie, was the Ranger starting pitcher, and a blister ended his outing in the second inning.  He was charged with three runs and the loss to go to 0-2.

Phillips Valdez followed Palumbo and gave up two more runs.  Willie Calhoun homered in the sixth for the only Ranger score of the day, making the final score 5-1.

Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney was spectacular.  He completed eight innings, allowing just four hits and striking out a career high 14 Rangers.  At one point, he retired 16 batters in a row.  He’s 3-3 with the win.

Mike Minor was Wednesday’s starting pitcher, and he was very good for three innings.  Calhoun homered again in the third inning to put the Rangers on the scoreboard.  Solak followed with a double, and he later scored on DeShields’ single as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead.

The Angels tied the game in the fourth inning, but the Rangers immediately answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth.  Calhoun and Solak again scored the runs.  Calhoun led off with a double.  Solak drove him in with a single and later scored on a DeShields’ single.

The Angels though tied the game with two runs in the fifth inning and scored three in the sixth to take a 7-4 lead.  Pence singled home two runs in the seventh as the Rangers pulled to within a run at 7-6.  Choo singled home a run in the eighth inning to tie the game.

That set the stage for the ninth inning walk off win.  Elvis Andrus singled leading off the inning.  Two wild pitches moved him to third base, and Pence singled him home for the 8-7 win.

The Rangers are in the midst of playing four straight four game series.  They continue this weekend in Chicago beginning Thursday night.  The announced starting pitchers for the series are Ariel Jurado (6-9) on Thursday, Lance Lynn (14-8) on Friday, Kolby Allard (1-0) on Saturday, and Brock Burke (0-0) on Sunday.  Game times (Central) are 7:10 PM Thursday and Friday, 6:10 PM on Saturday, and 1:10 PM on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     Willie Calhoun hit .433 (13-39) on the home stand with three home runs.

*     Sam Huff was named the Rangers’ minor league Player of the Year.  He’s hitting .288 with 28 home runs and 79 RBIs at Low-A Hickory and Advanced-A Down East.

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BROOMS IN ARLINGTON

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Brooms were needed in Arlington Sunday, but it was the Minnesota Twins that did the sweeping.  They won all four games of this weekend’s series with the Texas Rangers in the battle of the two teams that used to be known at the Washington Senators.  It was the first time the Twins (the first Washington Senators) had swept the Rangers (the second Washington Senators) in a four game series.

Game one of the series was almost over before it began.  Ranger starting pitcher Pedro Payano was rocked hard – so hard that he was optioned to AAA Nashville after the game.  The Twins didn’t score in the first inning, but proceeded to score in each of the next five innings, starting with five runs in the second.  After the Twins hit in the fifth inning, they had built the lead to 11-0.

The Rangers did battle back to score three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 12-5.  It could easily have been more.  Aggressive base running cost them three outs on the bases.  Manager Chris Woodward wants his team to be aggressive running the bases.  Aggressive is one thing; stupid is another.  There’s no reason to make an out on the bases, much less three when they were so far behind.

The final score was 13-6 handing the loss to Payano (1-2) with the loss.  He pitched into the fourth inning, giving up five earned runs on five hits and three walks.  Four relievers followed, and Shawn Kelley is the only one that did not allow a run.

Twins’ starter Michael Pineda went to 8-5 with the win.  He completed five innings and Devin Smeltzer pitched the final four innings to qualify for a save (his first) despite the lopsided score.  Pineda and Smeltzer each gave up three runs.

Mike Minor has been the Rangers’ hottest pitcher of late.  He came into the second game of the series having thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings and three straight wins.  Both of those streaks ended Friday night.  He gave up a two run home run to Max Kepler in the fourth inning to end the scoreless innings streak.  After the Rangers took a 3-2 lead, Minor gave up another two run dinger to Jonathan Schoop in the seventh inning.  That made the score 4-3, which was the final.

Nomar Mazara doubled home two runs, and the third Ranger run scored on a wild pitch.

Minor is 11-7 with the loss, though his ERA is still less than 3.00 at 2.94.  Reliever Tyler Duffey was the winning pitcher.  Sergio Romo earned the save, his 20th.

On Saturday, the Twins struck for six first inning runs and added two more in the second inning.  The Rangers though scored two in the first and four more in the second to put the Twins in range at 8-6.  Danny Santana was the Rangers’ big stick as he hit two run home runs in the first and second innings.

Ariel Jurado was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  He lasted two innings giving up eight runs, but six of the runs were unearned.  He took the loss to go to 6-9, and his hold on a rotation spot is tenuous.  Four relievers finished the game.  Three of them allowed more runs.  The final score was 12-7 with Duffey getting his second win of the series to go to 4-1.

Sunday’s game was very winnable for Texas, but it didn’t happen because of poor defense.  Texas committed two errors and a very catchable ball in left field did not get caught driving in two runs with two outs in the first inning.

Lance Lynn was the starting pitcher, and the miscues caused him to throw an extra 25 pitches.  He didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled through five innings allowing three runs on four hits and five walks.  His 112 pitch count forced him out of the game.

After getting behind 3-0, Jeff Mathis drove in two runs in the fourth inning, making this his first game this year to drive in more than one run.  Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh inning to tie the game at three.  However in the eighth inning, Jorge Polanco tripled with the bases loaded to put the Twins ahead 6-3, which was the final score.

Ranger reliever Emmanuel Clase was charged with the three eighth inning runs to take the loss.  He’s 0-2.  Former Ranger closer Sam Dyson was the Twins’ winning pitcher.  He’s 5-1.  Taylor Rogers closed it out for his 19th save.

Texas has now lost 10 of their last 12 games to fall four games under .500.  They have dropped behind the Angels into fourth place in the division, trailing the first place Astros by 18.5 games.

The Angels come to town for four games over the next three days.  The game that was not played in July when Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room will be made up as part of a day/night doubleheader on Tuesday.  The Rangers’ announced starting pitchers are Kolby Allard (1-0) on Monday and rookies Brock Burke making his Major League debut in game one and Joe Palumbo (0-1) in game two on Tuesday.   Mike Minor (11-7) is Wednesday’s scheduled starter.  The day game of Tuesday’s double header is scheduled to start at 1:05 PM.  The Monday and Tuesday night games are slated to begin at 7:05 PM, and Wednesday’s game is scheduled to begin at 6:05 PM.  (All game times are Central Daylight Time.)

NOTABLE:

*    Joey Gallo has begun taking swings at balls off a tee.  He wants to return before the end of the season, but admits he is still at least 3-4 weeks away from being able to play in a game.

*     The Rangers offense fizzled this weekend largely because they couldn’t get key hits.  For the series, the Rangers went 7-35 with runners in scoring position.

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