ASLEEP IN SEATTLE

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers finished the season last weekend with four games in Seattle.  The Mariners had been eliminated from the playoff picture prior to the series, and the Rangers of course were effectively eliminated by late April.  The result was that these games had the look and feel of spring training.  Interim manager Don Wakamatsu gave many of his lineup thoughts in a pre-game interview with Eric Nadel.  He planned to give his position players at least one start in the field.  The starting pitchers were really looking to solidify their bid for being in next year’s rotation.  He also wanted Adrian Beltre to play third base in Sunday’s series finale, perhaps his last Major League game.

Ariel Jurado had a strong outing on Thursday to start the series.  He completed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits.  He struck out three, but walked none.  The Rangers put a pair of runs on the board in their half of the seventh for the only scoring of the night.  Ronald Guzman singled home the first run, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa drove in the other the hard way.  He was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Mike Moore, Conner Sadzeck and Jose Leclerc finished off the shutout over the final three innings.  Jurado is 5-5 with the win, and Leclerc finished the season with his 12th save.

The Mariners came back to win the final three games, as the Rangers’ offense effectively slept through the weekend.  On Friday, Martin Perez was the starting pitcher, and he was miserable.  He didn’t get out of the second inning, allowing five runs.  He deserved a better fate though, as two balls were misplayed, and just two of the runs were earned.

The Rangers trailed 9-0 as they came to bat in the fourth inning, but they made a game of it by scoring six runs in the fourth and fifth innings.  Beltre and Nomar Mazara each hit run scoring doubles in the fourth inning, and Robinson Chirinos homered to plate four runs.  Elvis Andrus doubled home a run in the fifth inning and later scored on Beltre’s sacrifice fly.

That was as close as the Rangers would get though.  Five relievers shutout the Rangers over the final four innings, and the Mariners added three runs off Moore to make the final score 12-6.  Perez is 2-7 with the loss.

Adrian Sampson was the Saturday starting pitcher.  He is from the Pacific Northwest, so had a host of family and friends in attendance to see him pitch.  He did not disappoint.  He pitched 6-2/3rds innings, allowing two earned runs and three runs total.

Unfortunately, the Ranger bats were silent.  Beltre doubled home the only Ranger run of the game in the first inning.  The final score was 4-1, and Sampson is 0-3 with the loss, though he has likely pitched himself into at least strong consideration for next year’s rotation.

Both teams played like they wanted to get Sunday’s game over with quick.  It took just 2:14 to play.  Yovani Gallardo was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  He gave up two runs in the second inning and a third run in the fifth inning, which he wasn’t able to complete.  Drew Robinson homered in the sixth for the Rangers’ only run, making the final score 3-1.  Gallardo falls to 8-8 with the loss.

Beltre took the field to warm up for the sixth inning, but was replaced by Jurickson Profar before the inning began.  He received a well deserved ovation from the Seattle fans.  Beltre played five years for the Mariners, 2005-2009 appearing in 717 games.  Perhaps his best friend in the game is Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez, and Beltre went straight to the Mariners’ dugout when he was replaced to be greeted by his friend.

The Rangers finished the season with a 1-6 week to bring their season record to 67-95.  That ties them with Cincinnati for the seventh worst record in baseball next season.  Cincinnati’s 2017 record was worse than the Rangers, so the Reds pick seventh and the Rangers eighth in next June’s amateur draft.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre was selected as the Rangers’ Player of the Month for September.  It was the 12th time he has been the Rangers’ Player of the Month.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ANGELS SWEEP

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Los Angeles Angels swept the Texas Rangers in a three game series to start the week.  The Rangers’ offense has basically died over the last two weeks, and scored just seven runs in the series.  It’s also heavily reliant on the home run.  The Rangers hit five in this series, driving in six of the seven runs they scored.  Texas is now a season high 34 games out of first place, and their winning percentage is actually lower since the All-Star break than it was before.

On Monday night, the Rangers opened the series by losing 5-4 in extra innings, a game that ended the Angels’ five game losing streak.  Adrian Sampson was the starting pitcher, and he lasted into the sixth inning allowing four runs on five hits.

The Rangers got a solo home run from Ronald Guzman in the second inning, and a two run shot from Jurickson Profar in the sixth inning.  The score stood at 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, when Guzman doubled.  Delino DeShields pinch ran and scored on Elvis Andrus’s pinch hit single to tie the game.

Chris Martin sent the game to extra innings by setting the Angels down one-two-three in the bottom of the ninth.  Jose Leclerc walked a batter, but retired the other three in the 10th inning.  Matt Moore took the mound in the 11th inning with the score still tied at four.  He threw just three pitches.  Angels’ pinch hitter Jose Breceno blasted the third one over the fence in left center field to end the game.  Moore is 3-8 with the loss.

On Tuesday, Yovani Gallardo was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he too lasted into the sixth inning, giving up two runs on three hits.  Martin Perez relieved and failed to retire any of the three batters he faced.  He gave up two hits and a third batter reached on an error.  Two of the three scored, but both runs were unearned because of the error.

Joey Gallo hit his 40th home run, a solo shot in the third inning.  It was the second straight year that Gallo has reached the 40 home run plateau.  That was all the scoring on the night making the final score 4-1.  Gallardo is 8-7 with the loss, and his ERA is 6.40.

On Wednesday, Adrian Beltre and Jurickson Profar homered for all the Rangers’ scoring on the night.  Yohander Mendez was the starting pitcher and he was gone with one out in the fifth inning, giving up two runs on three hits.  He did walk four batters though.

The game was tied at 2 going to the eighth inning.  Angels’ phenom Shohei Ohtani untied it with a home run.  The Rangers went quietly in the ninth with two strikeouts and a groundout to make the final score 3-2.  Chris Martin served up the pitch for Ohtani’s round tripper to take the loss and fall to 1-5.

The Rangers now head to Seattle for four games to complete the season.  The announced starting pitchers for the Rangers are Ariel Jurado on Thursday, Martin Perez on Friday, Adrian Sampspn on Saturday and Yovani Gallardo on Sunday afternoon.

NOTABLE

*     Joey Gallo becomes the fourth Ranger player to hit 40 home runs in back to back seasons, the first since Alex Rodriguez in 2002 and 2003.  Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro are the other two.

*     Jurickson Profar becomes the first Ranger switch hitter to hit 20 home runs since Milton Bradley in 2008.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BANISTER OUT!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The big story of this weekend’s three game series between the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners happened before a pitch was thrown.  Friday morning, beat writers covering the team citing reliable sources reported that the Rangers would not retain manager Jeff Banister for the 2019 season.  By Friday afternoon, the club made it official.  Banister was relieved of his managerial duties effective immediately, and Bench Coach Don Wakamatsu took over as interim manager for the final 10 games of the season.

A surprise?  When a team plays as poorly as the Rangers’ record this season, bold changes usually get made.  It is often the manager that gets the axe.  Did Banister deserve to be let go?  Probably not on his record as manager.  He took the team to division championships in his first two seasons (2015 and 2016).  Johnny Oates is the only manager that won more – three.  Injuries derailed the 2017 team, and when the 2018 season began, the team was already in the re-building mode trying to open another window of opportunity to make the team worthy of a playoff run for multiple years.

Even GM Jon Daniels admitted that the team’s poor record in 2018 was much more his fault than Banister’s.  He simply put together a team with the talent destined to finish last in the division.

On the other hand, the real question at this point does not involve placing blame on where the team is now.  The real question is that now that the team has finally fessed up that they are in a rebuilding stage and likely will not be a serious playoff contender until at least 2020 and probably later, who is the best man to manage the team in 2019 and 2020 if not beyond to develop the talent to be a contender? The answer was not Banister.

Banister followed Ron Washington, who was known as a players’ manager.  Washington was extremely successful with the veteran teams the Rangers fielded in 2010-2013.  As the veterans moved on, there were times people wondered if the inmates were running the asylum under Washington’s laissez faire management style.  The manager following Washington needed to be more structured.  Banister proved to be the right person, as he rallied the talent for the two division titles.

From the beginning though, Banister’s tough guy, grind it out approach rubbed some players the wrong way.  There was definitely a faction that didn’t like Banister even during the winning years.  Winning usually quells complaints, but when the team stopped winning divisions in 2017 and 2018, the discontent became an uproar.  It’s difficult to make the tough guy approach last over a long period of time.

Daniels promised a thorough search for a new manager when the season ends, just as he did after the 2014 season.  Wakamatsu has indicated he would like to be considered, and all indications are that he will.  A lot of Banister’s problems with the team were in his communication skills, and Wakamatsu was brought in to assist in that area.  He has managed in the Majors with Seattle, and he has a heavy load of coaching experience in the Majors, including coaching with the Rangers on the staffs of Buck Showalter, Ron Washington and Banister.  Being with the team this year, he has an excellent knowledge of the current personnel.  Wakamatsu should be a strong candidate for the opening.

In reality, Daniels has given little indication of the strong points he’ll be seeking in his new manager.  There has been a trend in recent years for teams to hire managers with little and in some cases no coaching or managerial experience that are younger and theoretically relate better to players.  The results have varied.  But again, Daniels has given very little insight into the qualities he will be seeking with this managerial hire.

When the Rangers’ owners extended Daniels’ contract early this season, they effectively cast their fate on rebuilding the team with Daniels.  Apparently, they are confident that Daniels will again make a good managerial hire.

THE GAMES:

On Friday night, Wakamatsu recorded his first Ranger win.  Texas won 8-3 in the first rain shortened game in the history of Globe Life Ballpark.  Adrian Beltre homered and drove in five runs.  The home run was his 476th, which gave him sole possession of 30th place on the all-time home run list.  Joey Gallo also homered, his 38th.

Ariel Jurado was the primary pitcher following opener Connor Sadzeck.  Jurado finished innings two through six, allowing two runs on six hits.  He got the win to go to 5-4.

Mike Minor was Saturday’s starting pitcher.  He wasn’t sharp scrambling through four scoreless innings, but he couldn’t make it five.  Robinson Cano homered with two runners aboard and two outs to give Seattle a 3-0 lead.  Minor’s night ended one batter later on a walk.  His pitch count was 96.

Three was all the runs Seattle would need, as the Ranger offense didn’t bother to score Saturday night.  The first four relievers that followed Minor each gave up runs as the Mariners scored in every remaining inning.  13-0 was the final score, as the Rangers managed just three singles on the night.  Minor is 12-8 with the loss.

The highlight of Sunday’s game came in the sixth inning.  Wakamatsu removed Adrian Beltre from the game.  He trotted from his position at third base greeted by his teammates and to a standing ovation from the adoring crowd.  Everyone realized this could well have been Beltre’s final appearance in a Ranger uniform as a player in Arlington.

After the game, Beltre was quoted “This is the first time I’m actually thinking of packing and maybe not coming back.  Mentally, I’m ready for whatever decision I’m going to make.  It was a weird day today.”

Martin Perez was Sunday’s starting pitcher instead of Adrian Simpson as previously announced.  Perez has pitched well in relief such that he earned the chance to start again.  He lasted just four innings as he is no longer stretched out to go but about 50 pitches.  He used 49 of them well, allowing a run on two hits.  He’ll get one more start in Seattle next week.

The Rangers erupted for four runs in the sixth inning to take the lead.  Mazara doubled home the first two runs to put Texas ahead.  Robinson Chirinos singled him home for the third run.  Two more singles loaded the bases, and Carlos Tocci brought Chirinos home with a sacrifice fly.

Gallo completed the scoring on the day with a two run home run in the eighth inning to make the final score 6-1.  It was Gallo’s 39th home run, leaving him a week to hit at least one more to reach 40 for the second season in a row.

Four relievers shutout the Mariners after Perez left.  Jeffrey Springs (1-1) earned the win.

Texas plays every day next week on the road to finish the season.  The trip begins with three games in Anaheim against the Angels, and four in Seattle with the Mariners.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Adrian Sampson on Monday, Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday and Yohander Mendez on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

*     Assistant General Manager Jayce Tingler was added to the coaching staff on Saturday taking over the bench coach role formerly held by interim manager Don Wakamatsu.

*    The final home attendance this season was 2,107,107 (26,014 per game), a drop of 400,653 (16%) from last season.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RAYS’ SWEEP

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Texas Rangers this week in a three game series at Globe Life Ballpark.  The Rays outscored the Rangers 16-3, but the real difference in the series was motivation.  The Rays arrived on a roll with the best record in baseball since the All-Star break.  They are fighting to overcome an horrific start to the season to make the playoffs.  The Rays are motivated!

Meanwhile, the Rangers are embedded in last place in the West with the only question to be decided about the team’s fate is where they will pick in next summer’s amateur draft. This team is playing out the last two weeks of the season just trying to get it over with.

The Rays shut out Texas on six hits in the first two games.  Tampa won 3-0 on Monday night allowing the Rangers just two infield singles.  On Tuesday, the score was 4-0.  All four of the Rangers’ hits went into the outfield, and one even went for extra bases.  Both teams brought the offense to Wednesday afternoon’s finale with Tampa Bay winning 9-3.

Ji-Man Choi supplied the offense on Monday night.  He went 2-4 with a home run, driving in two runs and scoring once.  Tyler Glasnow, a pitcher the Rays received from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade, won his first game as a Ray as he allowed just two infield hits over six shutout innings.  Three relievers shut down Texas without a hit over the final third of the game with Sergio Romo pitching the ninth inning to earn his 22nd save.

Adrian Sampson was the Ranger starter.  He’s making a case for being part of next year’s starting rotation, and Monday night, he made a good case.  He lasted 5-2/3rds innings, allowing two Rays’ runs on six hits and a walk.  Sampson is 0-2 with the loss.

Martin Perez had his best outing since being relegated to the bullpen going 2-2/3rds innings and yielding just one hit.

On the offensive side, Nomar Mazara and Isiah Kiner-Falefa got the two infield hits.

Tuesday night was a special night for Tampa’s Blake Snell.  He doesn’t have the name recognition of Cleveland’s Cory Kluber or Boston’s Chris Sale; but on the field, he is neck and neck with them to be this season’s Cy Young Award winner.  He completed five shutout innings without having his best stuff.  His mechanics were a touch out of sync leading to control problems that ran his pitch count to 92 over the five innings.

However, his stuff was good enough for a win when three relievers completed the shutout.  Snell became the first 20 game winner of the season, and the outing lowered his ERA to 1.97.

The Rays blasted Yovani Gallardo and five relievers for 15 hits.  Surprisingly, the Rangers held them to just four runs despite the hit barrage.  The Rangers turned three double plays to hold down the scoring.  Willy Adames homered in the fourth inning to put the Rays on the board 2-0.  The next two hitters doubled to extend the lead to 3-0, and the Rays added another run in the seventh inning.

Gallardo surrendered three runs on eight hits over the first five innings.  Matt Moore gave up the fourth run.  Gallardo is 8-6 with the loss.

Delino DeShields, Kiner-Falefa, Robinson Chirinos and Hanser Alberto had the Ranger hits, with Alberto knocking the double.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Rays jumped on Ranger starting pitcher Yohander Mendez early.  They scored eight runs in the second, third and fourth innings to knock Mendez out of the game and pin the second loss this season on him.  He’s 2-2.

On the offensive side of note, Adrian Beltre had two hits including a home run.  It is the 475th of his career which moved him into a 30th place tie on the all-time home run list with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell.  (Good company!)

Texas gets their final day off during the season on Thursday.  They then host Seattle over the weekend to close out the home portion of the 2018 schedule.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor on Saturday and Adrian Sampson on Sunday.  In Friday’s game, Connor Sadzeck will start the game as the opener, and Arield Jurado will follow as the primary pitcher.

NOTABLE:

*     Matt Bush underwent elbow surgery this week.  It’s not Tommy John surgery, but it will keep him out until mid-season 2019.

*     Based upon the standings after Wednesday’s games, the Rangers would pick seventh in next summer’s amateur draft.  Cincinnati would get the eighth pick, but they are just one-half game better than the Rangers, so Ranger fans should be rooting for the Reds to win more games over the season’s final 10 days.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

100? NO!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers mathematically avoided a 100 loss season by taking two of three games from the San Diego Padres this weekend.  Texas won the first two games, and were within three outs of a sweep before losing game three.  The two wins assure that 98 losses will be the most the Rangers can lose this season.

Texas won 4-0 to open the series Friday night.  Jurickson Profar showed that he has become a backbone of the Rangers’ offense, as he was involved in every scoring play.  The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Profar singled home Nomar Mazara.  In the seventh inning, he slugged a two run home run, his 17th of the season.  In between, Profar scored on a groundout fielders choice in the fifth inning.  In total, he was 3-4, with three RBIs and two runs scored.

The Rangers employed the “opener” to start the game.  Connor Sadzeck got the Padres out in the first inning walking one, but facing just three batters thanks to a double play.  Yohander Mendez then put his best foot forward in a bid to become part of the Rangers’ 2019 starting rotation.  He followed Sadzeck with five shutout innings on three hits.  Jeffrey Springs and Jose Leclerc finished off the Padres over the final third of the game.

Adrian Beltre had two hits in the game to take over 15th place on the all-time hit list as he passed George Brett.  Beltre now has the most career hits of any Major League player that played third base for a majority of their careers.

Mendez is 2-1 with the win, and the performance dropped his ERA to a respectable 3.86.

The Rangers again used an opener in Saturday’s game.  Alex Claudio started, gave up a hit, but finished the first inning without a Padre score.  Ariel Jurado followed, allowing three runs in four innings on two hits and two walks.  The outing raised his ERA above 7.00 at 7.01, but amazingly, he became the winning pitcher when the Rangers rallied for five runs in the sixth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Joey Gallo had homered in the second inning for the Ranger run.  The Rangers sixth inning scoring explosion began with the bases loaded and two outs.  Robinson Chirinos doubled home all three runners to take the 4-3 lead.  He then scored on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s double, who later scored on Shin-Soo Choo’s single.

That was all the scoring on the night, as the Rangers won 6-3.  Jurado is 3-5 with the win and Leclerc collected his 11th save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

On Sunday, the Rangers looked poised to complete the sweep.  Mike Minor, clearly the Rangers’ best starting pitcher, gave up two runs in 6-1/3rd innings.  He also doubled in his final at bat for the first hit this season by a Ranger pitcher.

Willie Calhoun and Profar homered in the second and third innings, and Chirinos singled home a third run in the sixth.  The Rangers threatened, but didn’t score again as they twice left the bases loaded.

It was still 3-2 going to the ninth.  After pitching Friday and Saturday, Leclerc was not available.  Jeffrey Springs got the save opportunity.  He retired the first batter he faced, but a soft pop dropped in short right field, and a double singled home the runner to tie the game.

A flyout brought the Rangers to within an out of sending the game to extra innings.  Springs pitched carefully to the next two hitters and walked them both to load the bases.  Francisco Mejia then hit a grand slam home run to win the game 7-4.  Springs is 0-1 with the loss

The Rangers have 13 games remaining in the season.  The first six are in Arlington starting Monday night when the Tampa Bay Rays are in town.  The Rays took two of three games this weekend from Oakland to trail the A’s by six games for the second Wild Card berth.  Their chances of making the playoffs are slim; but they have a chance, so the games in Arlington this week are extremely important to Tampa Bay.

The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Adrian Sampson on Monday, Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday and Yohander Mendez on Wednesday.  Manager Jeff Banister however may employ an opener.  The first two games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM (Central), and Wednesday’s is an afternoon matinee with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers finished with a 4-2 record against San Diego this year, and finished inter-league play with a 9-11 record.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS DROP THIRD SERIES IN A ROW

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers’ offense did a disappearing act to conclude the series with the Los Angeles Angels that started the week.  Texas won the series opener on Monday, but dropped the final two games for their third straight series loss.  If next season’s amateur draft order was based upon the current standings, the Rangers would have the seventh pick in the first round.

The Rangers ended their four game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Angels on Monday night.  Texas opened the second inning with a pair of walks to Adrian Beltre and Jurickson Profar.  Joey Gallo then doubled them home for the first two scores of the game.  One out later, Ronald Guzman doubled the Ranger lead to 4-0 with a home run, his 15th.

Mike Minor was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he said after the game that his mechanics were a little off and that he never really got into a confident groove.  In the end though, he made it through six innings on 88 pitches, allowing one run on six hits.  The Angels scored the run in the fourth inning and still had runners at first and third with one out, but Minor got out of the jam without any more runs scoring.

Shoehei Ohtani singled home the Angels second run in the seventh inning, and Gallo singled home the Rangers’ fifth run in the eighth inning to make the final score 5-2.  Minor is 12-7 with the win, and Jose Leclerc continued his incredible run with a four up, three down ninth inning to earn his 10th save.

On Tuesday, Adrian Sampson was the Rangers starting pitcher.  Sampson was making his second Major League appearance and first start since the 2016 season, as he has dealt with shoulder surgery and the ensuing rehab.  He lasted five innings allowing two hits.  Unfortunately, one of those hits was a Jose Fernandez home run.

Three Ranger relievers finished the game keeping the Angels off the scoreboard.  Unfortunately, the Rangers’ offense did not come up with support.  It was a bullpen game for Los Angeles as they used eight pitchers in the game.  It worked well, as Texas went to the eighth inning without a hit.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa broke up the no hitter with a single.  Two batters later, Kiner-Falefa went to third base on Rougned Odor’s single.

That was as close as the Rangers got to scoring.  Profar grounded out to end the eighth, and three ground outs in the ninth inning ended the game at 1-0.

Sampson is 0-1 with the loss.

The Rangers’ scoreless streak extended to 16 innings on Wednesday before Gallo homered.  It was his team leading 36th of the season.  That was all the Rangers’ scoring on the night.

Yovani Gallardo was Wednesday’s starting pitcher, and he should have been the opener, not the primary pitcher.  He retired the Angels without allowing a hit in the first inning, but was hit hard in the second and third innings.  He gave up six runs on six hits, and was out of the game after three innings.

The Angels tacked on two more runs to make the final score 8-1.  Gallardo falls to 8-5 with the loss, and his ERA moved up to 6.67.  There has to be at least a question as to whether Gallardo will start again this season for the Rangers.  Surely, Gallardo’s remaining starts could be better utilized by being allocated to younger pitchers.

The Rangers are off Thursday, and continue their road trip in San Diego this weekend.  It will be the Rangers’ fifth straight road series in California.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Yohander Mendez on Friday night, Ariel Jurado on Saturday night, and Mike Minor on Sunday afternoon.  Manager Jeff Banister however hinted that he might use an opener in two of the games, presumably the Friday and Saturday games.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre had no hits in the series and remains in 16th place on the all-time hit list with 3,153, one hit behind George Brett for 15th place.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OAKLAND ROLLS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Oakland Athletics continued their playoff push by sweeping the three games series this weekend from the Texas Rangers.  Baseball fans 240 south of the Metroplex were rooting for the Rangers to assist their Astros toward the American League West championship, but the Rangers responded with no wins.  With the conclusion of this series, the Rangers are 21 games under .500 and a season high 28 games out of first place in the American League West.

Friday’s game was the only night game of the series.  Yovani Gallardo was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  Gallardo has eight wins since joining the Rangers in mid-season, but he has been hit harder than his record would indicate.  That didn’t change Friday night.  Ramon Laureano touched Gallardo for a first inning home run for the early 1-0 Oakland lead.  Marcus Semien came up with a two run home run in the second, and before the inning ended, Matt Chapman singled with the bases loaded to drive in two more.  Texas was in a 5-0 hole when they came to bat in the third inning.

Joey Gallo homered with Elvis Andrus on base in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Gallardo got in trouble again in the fifth inning, but Connor Sadzeck relieved and bailed him out of any additional scoreboard damage.  Gallardo’s line on the night:  4-1/3rd innings pitched, five earned runs allowed on six hits, five walks and one hit batsman.  He faced 24 batters and 12 reached base.  He threw 101 pitches and took the loss to go to 8-4.

Adrian Sampson took the mound to start the sixth.  He didn’t finish it.  He retired just one batter, while allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits.  That pushed the A’s lead to 8-2.  Ronald Guzman doubled home a run in the seventh inning, and Gallo doubled home another in the eighth inning to make the final score 8-4.

Saturday afternoon, Yohander Mendez was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  He admitted after the game that it was a struggle to spot all his pitches.  He lasted just four innings throwing 87 pitches.  Amazingly though, he allowed just one hit – a Khris Davis home following a walk in the first inning for a 2-0 Oakland lead.  It was Davis’s 41st home run of the season, 10 of which were hit against the Rangers.

Beltre halved the A’s lead with a second inning home run.  Nomar Mazara doubled home two more in the third inning to put the Rangers in the lead at 3-2, and Jurickson Profar hit his 16th home run of the season in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 4-2.

However, Martin Perez followed Mendez to the mound.  Perez was recently relegated to the bullpen for ineffectiveness as a starter.  He’s been just as ineffective if not more so as a reliever.  On Saturday, he gave up three runs on four hits in two innings, and Alex Claudio gave up another run to put the A’s ahead 6-4.

It was still 6-4 going to the eighth inning, but Beltre tied the game with a home run after Mazara had singled.  Chris Martin however could not keep the game tied.  He started on the mound in the eighth inning, giving up two more runs on three hits.

That made the score 8-6, which was the final after the Rangers went quietly in the ninth inning without putting a runner on base.  Martin is 1-4 with the loss.

The Rangers got off to a good start to salvaging a win and avoiding a sweep on Sunday afternoon.  Texas went with an “opener” to start the game – Jeffrey Springs.  He was so good that manager Jeff Banister left him in for three innings, in which he allowed just one hit and no runs.

Meanwhile, the offense staked the pitchers to a three run lead.  Mazara drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning.  Rougned Odor and Beltre hit run scoring singles in the third inning.

It was downhill for the Rangers after the third inning.  Primary pitcher Ariel Jurado took the mound in the fourth inning, but he didn’t last long.  He managed just two outs, while giving up five runs on four hits and two walks.

The Ranger offense failed to score the rest of the game, and the A’s added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to win their fourth game in a row and get to within 2-1/2 games of the first place Astros.  Jurado is 2-5 with the loss and his ERA crept over 7.00 at 7.03.

The Rangers continue their West Coast swing in Anaheim for three games with the Angels.  The announced starting pitchers are Mike Minor on Monday night, Adrian Sampson on Tuesday night and Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday night.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre had hits in all three games of the series, including a pair of home runs in Saturday’s game, the 33rd multi-home run game of his career.  He passed Paul Waner to take over 16th place on the all time hit list with 3,153, which is just one hit behind George Brett for 15th place.

*     Texas is 1-5-0 in the last six series and completed the season series against Oakland with a 6-13 record.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ANGELS TAKE A PAIR

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Wednesday night to win the rubber game of this week’s three game series.  The Angels pounced on Ranger starting pitcher Bartolo Colon for two runs in the first inning, and never trailed in the game.  Colon completed just four innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk.  Shohei Ohtani hit a pair of home runs to spearhead the Angels attack.

Colon and Ohtani proved to be bigger stories than the game.  Ohtani underwent an MRI which indicated that he needs Tommy John surgery.  He has not agreed to undergo the procedure, but most likely he’ll be lost as a pitcher to the Angels in 2019.  There is word that he likely will still be able to hit next season.

The Colon question revolves around the Rangers’ plan for him over the final days of the season.  His record is 7-12 with Wednesday’s loss, and his ERA is up to 5.55.  He’s allowed more home runs than any pitcher in baseball.  The Rangers have been pleased to have Colon to promote in this lost season as he took the lead in wins for a native Latin American, but he’s 45 and most likely doesn’t figure in the Rangers’ plans after this season.  Are the Rangers better off giving the remaining games he could start to a young pitcher for the experience and the opportunity for the Rangers to further assess their talent?

Manager Jeff Banister said after the game that Colon will continue to pitch, but he didn’t commit to giving Colon any more starts.  Colon hasn’t committed to playing past this season, so Wednesday night could well have been his final big league start.

The Rangers employed an “opener” in game one of this series for the first time, and they had to feel like it was a success.  Reliever Jeffrey Springs was the starting pitcher, and he had a relatively easy 13 pitch, three up-three down first inning.  That was good enough to earn the shot at a second inning.  Springs got into some trouble in the second, but got out of it without the Angels getting on the scoreboard.

The usual starting pitcher, Ariel Jurado, followed.  Ranger manager Jeff Banister explained more of his thinking after the game.  First, he wanted Jurado to start an inning, not come in during an inning.  Thus when Springs got into trouble in the second inning, Conner Sadzeck, not Jurado, warmed up to cover the possibility of having to replace Springs.

Jurado completed four more shutout innings.  The Rangers’ six shutout innings were matched by the Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (five innings) and Taylor Cole (the sixth inning), so the game was scoreless going to the seventh inning, when all the scoring in the game occurred.

Zac Curtis relieved Jurado, and his night did not go well.  Curtis was greeted with a lead-off single, and a wild pitch moved the runner to second base.  Curtis then recorded a flyout, but that proved to be the only out he would get. Taylor Ward homered to put the Angels up 2-0.  Curtis then struck out Jose Briceno, but strike three was another wild pitch allowing Briceno to advance to first base.  That ended Curtis’s night.  Briceno later scored to run the Angels lead to 3-0.

Joey Gallo’s two out double in the bottom half of the seventh inning drove home one run.  That was all the scoring on the night.  The final score was 3-1, with Curtis (0-1) getting the loss.

Tuesday’s starter was Mike Minor, clearly the Rangers’ best starting pitcher this season.  He struggled with command needing 91 pitches to complete five innings, but he allowed just two runs on three hits.

Four relievers shut out the Angels over the final four innings.  On the offensive side of the ball Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre hit solo home runs, and Nomar Mazara capped the scoring with a two run double, making the final score 4-2.

Minor is 11-7 with the win, and Jose Leclerc was again stellar in the ninth.  He retired all three batters he faced on 12 pitches, striking out two.  It was his ninth save.

The Rangers are off on Thursday, and then travel to Oakland for the weekend.  The announced starting pitchers for the series are Yovani Gallardo on Friday night, Yohander Mendez on Saturday afternoon, and Ariel Jurado on Sunday afternoon.

NOTABLE:

*     Mike Minor has held opponents to a .170 batting average in his seven starts since the All-Star break.

*     Adrian Beltre is up to 3,149 career hits as he has gotten at least one hit in the first five games of September.  He is three hits behind Paul Waner to tie for 16th place all time.

*     Tuesday night’s loss mathematically eliminated the Rangers from winning the division.  The Rangers finished the series 26 games out of first place, the largest deficit of the season.

*     Tuesday’s game and Wednesday’s game drew fewer than 20,000 fans.  They were the 17th and 18th home games this year with official paid attendance under 20,000.  There was just one such game last season.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS TAKE A PAIR

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers routed the Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon 18-4 to take the rubber game of this weekend’s three game series.  The Rangers’ offense came alive Sunday to set a team record for extra base hits in a game and shredded Minnesota pitching for the biggest scoring inning at Globe Life Ballpark in five years to finish the week 2-3.

The announced Rangers’ starting pitcher for Sunday went from TBD on Thursday, to Bartolo Colon on Friday and finally to Yohander Mendez on Saturday.  Mendez was recalled from AAA Round Rock to make the start.  He somewhat surprisingly turned in a sterling performance, completing six shutout innings on three hits.  He was helped by some outstanding defensive plays and hard hit balls going right at fielders, but that could have been a product of the fast pace Mendez set on the mound.

The Rangers handed Mendez a two run lead in the first inning, thanks to an Elvis Andrus home run.  They added a third run in the fifth inning.  The sixth was when they broke it open though, as they plated nine runs.  Robinson Chirinos, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar hit home runs to push six of the nine runs across.

The Twins finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings with two runs in each off Eddie Butler in relief of Mendez. The Rangers kept scoring though adding one run in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth inning to push their final tally to 18.

The Rangers had eight home runs in the game and 13 extra base hits overall, which set a new team record.

Mendez is 1-1 with the win; and despite the score, Butler earned his second save by completing the final three innings of the game.

When the epitath of this season’s last place Ranger finish is written, the main cause will be the starting pitching.  The Texas Rangers came into the weekend with the worst starting pitching ERA in baseball, and Friday night’s series opener eptomized the season.

Jurickson Profar doubled home two runs with two outs in the third inning.  Nomar Mazara capped a four run fourth with a home run with two runners on base.  They thus presented Ranger starter Drew Hutchison with a 6-0 lead.

Going into play this weekend, there had been 118 games in which a team held a six run lead at some point.  Those teams had lost only three of those games.  The Rangers made it four, as Hutchison couldn’t hold the lead.  Minnesota scored 10 unanswered runs to take the lead for good.

The Twins knocked Hutchison out of the box in the fifth with four straight hits to start the inning.  They all scored.  Matt Moore relieved, and he allowed four more runs before retiring the side.  The Twins added two more runs off Alex Claudio in the seventh inning, and Adrian Beltre drove in the final Ranger run in the ninth inning for a 10-7 Minnesota win.

Moore is 3-7, 7.27 with the loss.  Hutchison’s ERA rose to 6.75.

On Saturday, Yovani Gallardo started; and when Gallardo pitches, the Rangers usually score runs.  On this night, they pushed seven across.  Gallardo gave up three runs in five innings to move his ERA to 5.97.  His record however went to 8-3 with the win, when five Ranger relievers allowed just one more run for a 7-4 Ranger win.

Rougned Odor, Mazara, Adrian Beltre and Ronald Guzman each hit a home run for Texas.

The calendar flipped to September with just one Ranger getting traded on August 31.  Reliever Cory Gearrin went to Oakland for two lower level pitchers that have been groomed so far to be starters.  There was apparently little interest in Shin-Soo Choo and Beltre.

The Los Angeles Angels come to Arlington Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to complete this eight game home stand.  It will be the Halos’ second trip to Arlington in just a little over two weeks.

On Monday night, the Rangers will become the sixth team to employ an “opener”, a relief pitcher that starts the game.  Ariel Jurado is the pitcher that otherwise would be the starting pitcher Monday, and will follow Jeffrey Springs to the mound, probably in the second inning.  The idea is for the starting pitcher to avoid the top three or four hitters in the opponents’ batting order having them face a hard throwing reliever instead.

Mike Minor is the announced starting pitcher for Texas on Tuesday, and TBD is the announced starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game.  It’s possible that the Rangers will again use an “opener” Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

*     Jose Leclerc was named the Rangers’ Player of the Month for August.  Leclerc was tagged for just one hit in the 10 scoreless innings that he pitched.  He earned seven saves in seven opportunities in the month.

*     Adrian Beltre hit a home run in Saturday’s game to pass Robin Yount and take sole possession of 17th place on the all time hit list.  He’s up to 3,144 hits after singling on Sunday, and next on the list is Paul Waner with 3,152 hits.

*     Saturday night’s win was number 420 for Jeff Banister giving him sole possession of fourth place on the Rangers’ all-time managerial win list.  He had been tied with Buck Showalter, and now trails Johnny Oates, Bobby Valentine and Ron Washington.

*     Former Ranger catcher Chris Gimenez started at first base for the Twins Sunday and was used as a pitcher late in the game.  He homered Sunday, becoming the second pitcher to hit a home run in Globe Life Ballpark.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DODGERS RAP RANGERS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Los Angeles Dodgers completed a two game sweep of this week’s series in Arlington and a four game sweep of the season series against the Texas Rangers with 8-4 and 3-1 wins.  The Dodgers left town on a five game winning streak, while Texas is left with a four game losing streak that puts them a season high 24.5 games out of first place.

Wednesday’s series finale featured well pitched games by both starters.  Mike Minor, the Rangers’ best starting pitcher this season, went six innings allowing just two hits.  Unfortunately, both were home runs, which was enough to tag him with his seventh loss against 10 wins for the year.

Alex Wood was the Dodger starter.  He gave up four hits over seven innings, but all four hits were singles and no Ranger advanced as far as third base.

The teams went to the bottom of the ninth inning with a strange line.  Both teams had four hits.  The Ranger hits were singles and all four Dodger hits went for extra bases.  The Dodgers led 3-0 as three of their four hits were solo home runs.

Texas finally rallied for a run in the ninth inning off Kenta Maeda, who struggled through a 29 pitch inning to earn his first save of the season.  Nomar Mazara scored the Ranger run after reaching base on a walk.  Adrian Beltre doubled to drive him home.

The Rangers put the tying run on base with two outs when Joey Gallo walked, but the threat ended quietly when Ronald Guzman grounded out to end the game.

The first game of the series turned into a clunker early.  Ariel Jurado was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he looked sharp in the first inning getting three ground ball outs on 10 pitches.  A bloop single and botched ground ball got Jurado in trouble to start the second inning, but two ground balls, the first of which went for a double play, bailed him out.

The third inning began with a lead-off walk to the number eight hitter, never a good way to start an inning.  He completed his first trip through the batting order with a strikeout, but the rest of Jurado’s night didn’t go well.  The next three batters singled to put the Dodgers on top 2-0.  A single with two outs made the score 3-0, and the walk that followed ended Jurado’s night on the mound.  Eddie Butler relieved and coaxed the third out on a ground ball on his first pitch.

The line for Jurado – 2-2/3rds innings pitched, three earned runs on five hits and two walks.  He threw 61 pitches, and his ERA rose to 6.69.

The Rangers rallied for two runs in their half of the third inning to get within a run at 3-2.  Butler however, did not slam the door.  He pitched until the eighth inning giving up at least one run in each inning.  The five runs he allowed made the score 8-2.  Jeffrey Springs shut down the Dodgers in the eighth and ninth innings.

The Rangers offense went to sleep after the Dodgers answered their third inning rally.  From that point until the ninth inning, the Rangers never threatened to score and put just two runners on base with a walk and a single.

The offense showed some life in the ninth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out.  Ronald Guzman followed with a single to drive home two runs making the score 8-4 with two runners on base.  The game ended abruptly though as Shin-Soo Choo grounded into a double play.

The Rangers have Thursday off, their third day off out of the last eight.  The home stand continues with Minnesota’s only appearance in Arlington this year on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The announced starting pitchers for the Rangers are Drew Hutchison on Friday, Yovani Gallardo on Saturday, and TBD on Sunday.

Perhaps the bigger story on Wednesday night revolved around Martin Perez, who was expected to start Sunday’s game.  He has been moved to the bullpen, and the Rangers also announced that he’s been told that it is unlikely that the Rangers will exercise their 2019 option to retain him.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre singled in game one to tie Tony Gwinn for 18th place on the all time hit list with 3,141.  His Wednesday night double moved him past Gwynn and into a tie for 17th place with Robin Yount with 3,142 hits.  Next up is Paul Waner (3,152 hits).

*     In inter-league play this season, the Rangers are 7-10 with one three game series in San Diego next month remaining.

*     The Dodgers are a good draw.  Attendance for the series was 59,304 bringing the Rangers home attendance for the season up to 1,807,684, an average of 26,198 per game.  Texas needs to average 16,027 for the remaining 12 home games to reach the 2,000,000 mark for the season.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment