BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas beat the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday afternoon to avoid a sweep at the hands of one of the hottest teams in baseball. Losing two out of three cost the Rangers a game in the standings to both division leading Houston and third place Los Angeles in the West, as both of those teams started the week by winning two of three.
The series began Tuesday night with a battle of left-handers – Mark Buehrle for Toronto and Derek Holland for Texas. Holland was making his second start since being activated from the disabled list.
The Ranger hitters banged Buehrle around nicely, scoring single runs in the first, second and third innings and two more in the fifth. Delino DeShields, Jr. and Rougned Odor hit home runs. Buehrle completed six innings, giving up the five runs on seven hits.
Toronto answered with three home runs of their own. Chris Colabello, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion went yard in the second, third and sixth innings to cut the Ranger lead to 5-4. From there, the bullpens took over. Texas threatened in the seventh and eighth innings, but disappointingly did not score, leaving five runners on base.
The Rangers took the 5-4 lead into the ninth inning, sending closer Shawn Tolleson to the mound to secure the win. It was obvious from the beginning that he was not sharp. He walked the leadoff batter, never a good sign. He walked another. Troy Tulowitsky finally hit a soft line drive to left field to plate the tying run.
With two outs, Tolleson appeared to end the inning when he coaxed a ground ball to third base, but Adrian Beltre threw wide drawing Mitch Moreland off first base to snatch the throw. That plated another run as Toronto took 6-5 lead.
Roberto Osuna took care of the Rangers in short order in the ninth inning, striking out two to earn his 15th save. Toronto won 6-5. Tolleson (5-3) took the loss, while LaTroy Hawkins (3-1) was the winner for the Jays.
Holland didn’t pitch great as he allowed four runs on seven hits, including three home runs, over six innings. However, it was good enough to be two outs away from earning the win.
It was certainly one of the most disappointing losses of the year coming at a bad time.
Game two was a tight one for five innings. Beltre hit a two run home run in the first inning to give the Rangers the early lead. Toronto came back with single runs in the second and third innings to tie the game. They then took the lead with two more in the fifth inning, with both runs coming from a home run from former Ranger Justin Smoak.
The Rangers then melted down in the sixth. Three Ranger pitchers were needed to finish the inning as the Jays scored six runs to take command of the game. The deciding blow came from the Encarnacion’s bat – a grand slam home run that capped the scoring in the inning.
Both teams scored two runs in the seventh inning to make the final score 12-4. Colby Lewis (14-6) was the losing pitcher, while David Price (13-4) was the winner for Toronto.
Jays reliever Bo Schultz pitched the eighth and ninth innings, allowing a hit and walking a batter among the eight Ranger batters that he faced. Schultz is a graduate of Highland Park High School in Dallas.
Thursday’s matinee game was a tight one all the way. Mitch Moreland singled home a run in the first to give the Rangers an early lead. It was still 1-0 when the Rangers came to bat in the seventh inning. Will Venable singled to open the frame, but was quickly erased from the base paths when he got picked off. However, Bobby Wilson and Hanser Alberto followed with singles to set the stage for Delino DeShields.
The Rangers’ speedster singled home a run, and when Bautista in right field missed the ball, all three scored. Encarnacion doubled home a run for the Jays in the eighth, but that was all the scoring allowed by Ranger pitching. 4-1 was the final score.
Yovani Gallardo pitched 5-1/3rd scoreless innings to earn the win. He’s 11-8 with the win, his fourth this month in five starts. Tolleson faced four batters in the ninth inning, giving up a hit and retiring the other three, to earn his 26th save. Jays’ starter Marco Estrada (11-8) gave up a run on four hits over six innings to take the loss.
Texas is now five games out of first place, but are just four games behind the Astros in the loss column. The Rangers lead the Angels by one-half game in the standings and one in the loss column.
This home stand for the birds continues this weekend, as the Blue Jays leave town, and the Orioles arrive. Baltimore limps in having won just two of their last 10 games. The Rangers won three of four from the O’s earlier this season when the teams met in Baltimore. The announced starting pitchers are Cole Hamels (1-1 and 7-8) against Kevin Gausman (2-5) on Friday night, Martin Perez (1-3) against Ubaldo Jimenez (9-8) on Saturday night, and Derek Holland (1-1) verses Miguel Gonzalez (9-10) on Sunday afternoon.
* The largest crowd ovation on Tuesday night was for Ivan Rodriguez, who sat in the owners’ box near the Rangers’ dugout. The standing ovation came when Chuck Morgan announced his election to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.
* Attendance for this series was just 61,183, with Wednesday night’s crowd dropping under 20,000 for the fourth time this season. The Jays have never been a good draw in Arlington, and almost every area school is back in session, further limiting the crowds. Total home attendance is 1,861,446, an average of 30,516 per game. At that pace, they will draw 2,471,750 for the year. Texas drew 2,718,733 last year.
* Sin-Shoo Choo reached base in all three games of the series to extend his on-base streak to 31 games started since the All-Star break. During the streak, he has reached base by either a hit, a walk or hit by pitch in 61 of 139 plate appearances, an on-base percentage of .439.
* Thursday afternoon’s win over the Blue Jays evened the Rangers’ day game record at 18-18 this year.
* Yovani Gallardo’s win on Thursday brought his career win total to 100. He is the fifth native of Mexico to reach the 100 win plateau. Fernando Valenzuela is the leader with 179.
* Nick Martinez re-joined the Rangers Thursday and Spencer Patton was sent to AAA Round Rock. Martinez is slated to pitch out of the bullpen.