ELVIS IS IN THE HOUSE

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Elvis Andrus was activated for this week’s series against the Kansas City Royals, and he helped lift the Rangers to a series sweep.  There is no question that Andrus is one of the outspoken leaders of this Ranger team, and leaders are usually more effective when they play.  The Rangers slim hopes of contending this year hung on a solid offense, and with Andrus and Adrian Beltre back and batting third and fourth, the Rangers’ batting order looks much more formidable.

The series started with an emotional win on Monday night.  Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher, and he struggled through six innings.  He was knocked around for nine hits, but allowed just three runs to make his outing a quality start.  It was also good enough to qualify Colon for the win.

The Rangers’ offense got on the scoreboard quickly with a Shin-Soo Choo home run to start the game.  They came back in the third inning for four more runs.  Two walks and a single scored the first run, and Beltre homered to score the final three of the inning.

Colon gave back two runs in the Royals’ half of the third inning on a single, double and single.  An inning later, the Royals cut the lead to two runs at 5-3 with a single and a triple.  That was all the damage Ranger pitching allowed on the night.  Colon came back to shutout the Royals in the fifth and sixth innings, while Jake Diekman, Tony Barnette and Keone Kela allowed no base runners in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

The Rangers pushed across another run in the eighth inning to make the final score 6-3.

It was an emotional win for Colon – the 244th in his career.  That pulled him one ahead of Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most wins by a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic.

Tuesday’s game was overshadowed by strange doings before the game.  The clubhouse was closed to the media early when it is usually available for reporters.  GM Jon Daniels later announced that there had been some sort of incident – a “violation of team rules” – that was being dealt with.

The focus was on Yohander Mendez, who was the originally announced starting pitcher in Wednesday’s series finale.  Mendez was optioned to AAA Round Rock as discipline for his part in whatever happened, and Austin Bibens-Dirkx was brought up from AAA to start Wednesday’s game.

Other players were also said to be involved, but received less harsh discipline.  Rougned Odor is generally thought to be one of the “others”, as he was in Tuesday’s original starting lineup, but was omitted from a revised starting lineup that was later posted.  Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News later wrote that Carlos Tocci and Martin Perez also received fines for their part in the incident.

Odor did not see action in the game, but starting pitcher Cole Hamels was really good.  He scattered four hits over seven innings, allowing an unearned run.  (Per The Athletic’s Levi Weaver, the error that made the run unearned was likely to be overturned making the run earned.)

Texas scored a pair of runs in the second and third innings.  Delino DeShields’ bases loaded double plated the two in the second inning, while runs scored on a double and a fielding error in the third inning.

Diekman and Kela were lights out in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve the 4-1 victory.  Hamels is 4-6 with the win, and Kela earned his 17th save.

On Wednesday, Isiah Kiner-Falefa made his Major League catching debut.  Kiner-Falefa and Bibens-Dirkx are two of just three Major League players ever to have hyphenated spellings of their last names, so there was much ado that the pair was the battery on this night.

Bibens-Dirkx was excellent.  He pitched to contact and threw a preponderance of first pitch strikes.  With contact early in the count, he needed just 81 pitches to get through 6-2/3rds innings.  55 (68%) were strikes.

The Rangers supported him with three runs – one run in the first, second and sixth innings.  Odor homered in the sixth for the only Ranger round tripper of the game.  Bibens-Dirkx gave up just a run for an outstanding start.  Alex Claudio finished the seventh inning, and Jose LeClerc polished off K. C. in the eighth inning.

Kela was unavailable after saving the first two games of the series, so Diekman was called upon to pitch the ninth inning.  He promptly gave up a lead-off home run to Mike Moustakas that pulled the Royals within a run at 3-2.  It began to look shaky for the Rangers when Salvadore Perez followed with a single.

A strikeout and a ground ball force out at second got the Rangers one out away from the win with Hunter Dozier on first base.  Amazingly, Dozier tried to steal second base, his first stolen base attempt of the year.  It made sense as if successful, it would put the tying run in scoring position.  The chances of being successful looked good with a player catching his first Major League game.

Kiner-Falefa foiled the Royals’ plan.  He rifled a throw to second that caught Dozier to end the game.

Bibens-Dirkx is 1-1 with the win, and Diekman earned his second save.

Texas leaves Kansas City with a five game winning streak, their longest of the year.  They definitely caught the Royals at the right time, as K. C. has now lost nine straight games.  Texas picked up a game in the standings to cut first place Houston’s lead to 18 games in the American League West.  As for getting out of last place, the Rangers still trail Oakland by seven games, eight in the loss column.

The Rangers are off on Thursday and proceed to Minneapolis for a weekend series with the Twins.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (Friday), Yovani Gallardo (Saturday) and Bartolo Colon on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     Shin-Soo Choo reached base in all three games to extend his streak to 34 games.  That’s the second longest streak in Major League Baseball this year trailing Odubel Herrera’s 40 game on-base streak.

*     Keone Kela has 17 saves in 17 opportunities, the most by any closer in the Majors without a blown save.  The Ranger record for consecutive saves to start a season is 19, done by Francisco Cordero in 2004 and Joe Nathan in 2013.  Kela converted his final two save opportunities last season to have 19 consecutive saves overall.

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RANGERS TAKE TWO

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers recorded their most improbable win of the season on Sunday afternoon to take the series with the Colorado Rockies two games to one.  Despite the series win, the blistering hot Houston Astros completed a 10-game road trip undefeated pushing the Rangers a game farther down in the standings.  The Rangers are now 19 games out of first place in the American League West.

The fairy tale story of this series though was a little known double-A catcher.  Jose Trevino, the Rangers’ top minor league catching prospect, was driving to Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Ballpark Friday afternoon expecting to play for the AA Rough Riders that night.  On the way, he received a phone call from Frisco manager Joe Mikulik summoning Trevino to is office when he arrived at the park.

It was a life changing phone call.  The message was that Trevino would be playing Friday night in Arlington instead of Frisco.  Ranger catcher Robinson Chirinos had been bowled over by the Dodgers Matt Kemp Wednesday night in Los Angeles.  The bench clearing fracas that ensued earned Chirinos a one-game suspension.  Chirinos was sore from the collision and needed Friday night off anyway, so he accepted the suspension to get it out of the way.

Trevino then was to be Carlos Perez’s backup Friday night.  The thought was Trevino would get a taste of the Major Leagues from the Rangers’ bench Friday night and return to Frisco on Saturday.  It was supposed to be a one day trip to the Majors.

However, fate stepped in.  Perez injured his ankle in the second inning on a tag play.  He finished the inning on the field, but when his turn at bat came in the bottom of the inning, Trevino pinch hit and played the balance of the game at catcher.

Trevino had a nondescript game going 0-4.  Texas plated five runs in the first inning, getting two run home runs from Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo.  The 5-0 lead didn’t last long however, as Colorado came back with six runs in the second inning, tagging Yohander Mendez, who came up from AAA Round Rock to make the start.

Mendez was out after three innings, and the Rangers never scored again.  9-5 was the final score, with Mendez (0-1) taking the loss.

On Saturday, Perez was placed on the 10-day disabled list, so Trevino’s stay in the Majors was extended.  Chirinos was still sore, so Perez got his first Major League start instead of returning to Frisco.

Mike Minor pitched his best game for the Rangers Saturday.  He gave up two runs over seven innings.  The Texas bats were quiet against Rockies’ starter Kyle Freeland, who shut the Rangers out over the first six innings.  The Rockies scratched out single runs in the second and sixth innings to take a 2-0 lead into the seventh.

Rougned Odor led off with a triple and cut the Rockies’ lead in half when Isiah Kiner-Falefa doubled him home.  Kiner-Falefa later scored the tying run on Trevino’s ground ball single, his first Major League hit and RBI.

An inning later, the Rangers tagged the Rockies’ bullpen for three more runs, taking a 5-2 lead.  DeShields walked leading off the inning and went to second on a Profar single.  Adrian Beltre then tripled both runners home, and Guzman completed the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

Jose LeClerc and Keone Kela shut down Colorado in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the win.  LeClerc is 2-2 with the win, and the save was Kela’s 15th.

Sunday afternoon’s Fathers’ Day matinee was a warm game.  Chirinos was able to play.  It was one of those days when pitchers just could not have any success.  John Gray started for Colorado and was sharp for five innings, allowing just a run.  The Rockies backed him with five runs.  In the sixth though, Gray fell apart, as the Rangers put a five spot on the board to take the lead.

The momentum of overtaking the Rocks on the scoreboard didn’t last long.  Colorado came back in the seventh inning with five runs of their own to take a 10-6 lead.  Alex Claudio started the inning, but retired neither of the two batters he faced.  LeClerc followed and gave up hits to four of the five batters he faced.  When smoke had cleared, Claudio was charged with two runs and LeClerc was charged with three.

Texas drew within a run by scoring three in the seventh inning, but the Rockies pushed across two insurance runs in the ninth inning.  They led 12-9 and sent their closer Wade Davis to the mound to wrap it up.

Davis is one of the best closers in the game, but on Sunday afternoon, he couldn’t find the plate.  He ended up throwing 38 pitches, only 15 of which (39%) were strikes.  He gave up a hit and walked four batters to pull the Rangers within a run at 12-11.

Adrian Beltre had pinch hit for Chirinos in the eighth inning, so Trevino caught the ninth.  His turn in the batting order came up again in the Rangers’ half of the inning.  The bases were still loaded, and Trevino blooped a single into no man’s land in left center field.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa was the runner on second, and he got a good read on the hit, and didn’t hesitate to see if it would be caught.  He scored the game winner without a play, and Trevino was the center of a mass of players celebrating the improbable win.

Jesse Chavez (3-1) was the winning pitcher for Texas.

The Rangers now go on the road for six games starting with three in Kansas City.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Bartolo Colon on Monday, Cole Hamels on Tuesday and Yohander Mendez on Wednesday.

ROSTER MOVES: The weekend was filled with roster moves.  Prior to the series STARTING, Hanser Alberto was sent to AAA Round Rock to make room for Friday’s starting pitcher, Johander Mendez, to be added to the Rangers’ roster.  The hole in Round Rock’s starting rotation left by Mendez’s promotion was filled with waiver claim of Deck McGuire from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Martin Perez was moved from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for McGuire.

Trevino was called up Friday to be the back-up catcher with  Chirinos serving the one game suspension for his part in Wednesday’s collision at home plate and the bench clearing that ensued.

Relievers Chris Martin and Matt Bush were also placed on the 10-day disabled list.  That made room on the active roster for Trevino and reliever Brandon Mann, who was called up from Round Rock.

Mann was returned to AAA Round Rock on Sunday and Doug Fister was moved from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the active roster and 40-man roster for Yovanni Gallardo, who started Sunday’s game.

Elvis Andrus is expected to be activated from the disabled list when the Rangers go to Kansas City this week.  To make room for him on the active roster, Ryan Rua was sent to Round Rock after Sunday’s game, and Deck McGuire was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers are now 2-3 in inter-league play this season, and have an all-time record of 19-17 against Colorado, including 11-7 in Arlington.

*     Shin-Soo Choo reached base in all three games to extend his streak to 31 consecutive games of reaching base.  That’s the second longest streak of the Major League season, trailing Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera, who reached base in 40 consecutive games.

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SWEPT IN LA LA LAND

LOSING STREAK HITS SEASON HIGH SIX GAMES

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers were swept in a two game set at Dodger Stadium this week to push their record to a season high 16 games under .500.  They have plummeted to a season high 18 games out of first place (19 in the loss column) in the American League West.  As for getting out of last place, they trail fourth place Oakland by eight games in the standings and nine in the loss column.

As a testament to how low the Rangers’ season has sunk, the most talked about play of the series was a home plate collision between Matt Kemp trying to score for the Dodgers and Robinson Chirinos making the tag at home plate in Wednesday’s series finale.  Nomar Mazara’s throw home forced Chirinos into the path of the runner, and Kemp ran over Chirinos with a forearm to his throat.  Chirinos held onto the ball after the collision to record the out.

All agreed the play was legal, but Kemp immediately came after Chirinos shoving him backwards.  Chirinos shoved back and the benches cleared.  The ruckus was over quickly.  Chirinos and Kemp were ejected from the game.  Oddly, Ranger relief pitcher Chris Martin tweaked his hamstring coming in from the bullpen and was unavailable to pitch later in the game when he was needed.

Wednesday’s game started with a site that has become all too familiar.  Cole Hamels surrendered a solo home run in the first inning to put the Rangers behind early.  The Dodgers scored again in the second inning when Yasiel Puig stole third and proceeded home when the catcher’s throw went into left field.

The Rangers tied the game in the fourth inning when Mazara doubled and scored on Jurickson Profar’s single.  Profar went to second on the throw home and then scored on Joey Gallo’s single.

The game stayed tied at two until the 11th inning, when the Dodgers scored on a bases loaded ground ball back to the pitcher.  Matt Bush’s throw home was errant allowing the runner from third to score.

Hamels pitched well going six innings, allowing the two runs, only one of which was earned.  Jesse Chavez (2-1) was the undeserving losing pitcher

The series began with a clunker for the Rangers.  Bartolo Colon was hit hard, giving up eight runs, all earned, in 3-1/3rd innings.  His ERA zoomed to 4.94.  Included among the nine hits he allowed to the 19 batters he faced, were three home runs and two doubles.

The Dodgers struck first for three runs in the second inning.  The Rangers came back with a pair in the third inning, but Los Angeles put this game away in the fourth inning with seven runs scored.

The final score was 12-5.  Of note for Colon is that he struck out three batters, putting him over the 2,500 total for his career.  He’s 3-4 with the loss.

This road trip was brief – just two games.  The Rangers are back home this weekend after an off day on Thursday.  Colorado is in Arlington for three games as interleague play continues.  The Rangers’ pitching plans are up in the air, but the announced starting pitchers are Friday – Yohander Mendez, Saturday – Mike Minor, and Sunday – TBA.

NOTABLE:

*     With no DH in the National League park, Adrian Beltre played third base in both games, his first time to play consecutive games in the field since returning from the disabled list.  He collected five hits in the series to move into 21st place on the all time hit list with 3,092.  He passed Ichiro Suzuki to become the all time hits leader for a player born outside the United States.  Next up on the list is Dave Winfield with 3,110 hits.

*     Shin-Soo Choo also had hits in both games to move his streak of reaching base to 28 games.  That’s his career high and ties Detroit’s Jeimer Candelario and Philadelphia’s Cesar Hernandez for the second best streak in the Majors this season.  They trail Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera who reached base in 40 consecutive games.

*     The Rangers are 11-14 all time against the Dodgers and will play two more games with them in August in Arlington.

*     On Tuesday, the Rangers announced the signing of their top five draft picks in last week’s amateur draft.  They are #1 Cole Winn (RHP), #2 Owen White (RHP), #3 Jonathan Ornelas (IF), #4 Mason Englert (RHP), and #5 Jayce Easley (IF).

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HOUSTON SWEEPS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Houston Astros completed a four game sweep of the Texas Rangers this weekend.  The wins for the Astros moved them back into a virtual tie for first place in the American League West.  They technically are in second place trailing Seattle by percentage points.  The losses for the Rangers buried them further into the division basement, now a season high 15.5 games out of first place.  Texas trails fourth place Oakland by eight games in the standings and nine games in the loss column.

Sunday’s finale was a heart breaker for Texas.  Starting pitcher Matt Moore turned in an all too familiar performance allowing two first inning runs and four more in the second.  Ranger manager Jeff Banister had seen enough after three innings and 50 pitches.  He brought in Jesse Chavez to start the fourth.

The Rangers’ offense had a good day, battling back with two run innings in the second, third and fifth innings to tie the game at six.  Chavez held the Astros in check for three innings, but gave up a seventh inning home run to Yuli Gurriel to put the Astros back in front.

The Rangers however came back again in the eighth to tie the game with Adrian Beltre singling home Nomar Mazara.

The momentum looked to be with Texas going to the ninth, at which time the stangeness began.  Keone Kela delivered a pitch to Evan Gattis with runners on second and third and two outs.  There was no call on the pitch, but Houston manager A. J. Hinch came out of the dugout to petition for a balk.  And the umpires gave it to him.

Banister was livid.  All agreed later that Kela’s move was a balk, and there would not have been an argument if the umpires had called it when it happened.  Banister was ejected.  Gattis made the third out.  The Rangers went quietly in the bottom of the ninth inning.  The final score was Houston 8, Texas 7.

Kela is 3-3 with the loss.  Houston reliever Will Harris (2-3) was the winning pitcher, and Hector Rendon pitched a scoreless ninth for Houston to earn his third save.

The headline for the first game of the series could well be “Cole Out Duels Cole”.  That would be the Astros’ starting pitcher Gerrit Cole out pitching Rangers’ starting pitcher Cole Hamels.  They were both excellent.

Gerrit Cole walked the lead-off batter (Shin-Soo Choo) in the bottom of the first inning.  Two singles later, Choo scored the only run that Cole would allow on the night.  He gave up just one more hit after the first inning completing six innings with eight strikeouts.

Cole Hamels blanked Houston for the first three innings, and then the Astros struck for three runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good.  A double and single tied the game at one.  Evan Gattis then homered with two outs to put the Astros ahead.

The Astros extended the lead to 4-1 in the sixth inning when Jose Aluve singled, stole second and scored on a single.  Hamels came out for the eighth inning, retiring the first batter he faced, but then surrendered another home run to Alex Bregman to end his night.  His final line read 7-1/3rd innings pitched, five earned runs allowed, on seven hits and two walks.  He struck out five.

The Rangers mustered a ninth inning run off Ken Giles, the fourth Houston reliever of the night, to make the final score 5-2.  Gerrit Cole is 7-1 with the win, while Cole Hamels falls to 3-6 with the loss.

On Friday night, Choo homered in the bottom of the first to again give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.  The lead didn’t last long.  Houston opened the second inning with a single, a walk and another single off Doug Fister to tie the game at one apiece.  Another single and a double followed to bring home three more Astro runs making the score 4-1.

Justin Verlander was the Astros’ starting pitcher, and he was not in his finest form.  A double, a walk and another double in the third inning closed the margin to a run at 4-3.  That was all the damage the Rangers would do against Verlander.  He completed eight innings and saw his league leading ERA RISE to 1.45.  He’s 8-2 with the win.

Houston padded the lead with an Alex Bregman home run in the fifth inning, a solo shot, and with a two-run round tripper from Altuve in the seventh inning.  7-3 was the final score.

Fister left in the sixth inning with injury.  He literally began walking to the dugout after throwing a pitch to Yuri Gurriel leading off the sixth inning.  It was diagnosed with soreness in his right knee.  His record is 1-7 with the loss.

Saturday’s game was one of the stranger games of the year.  The free swinging Rangers rarely accept walks from opposing pitchers; but on this night, Astros’ pitchers managed to walk 10 batters and hit five more.  (The five hit batsmen is a new Ranger record, and it should have been six as Profar was hit in his final at bat on a 3-2 count, but the official scorer ruled ball four instead of hit by pitch.)

Another Ranger reached base on an error giving Texas 16 free base runners.  Add to that five hits, and the Rangers put 21 runners on base out of 47 plate appearances.  Texas however didn’t cash in on Houston’s pitching largesse.  Ranger batters went 1-17 with runners in scoring position to muster just three runs.  Texas left 17 runners on base, including 10 in scoring position.

Mike Minor turned in a quality start – just barely.  He completed the minimum six innings with the maximum of three earned runs allowed to qualify.  He was aided by two spectacular catches in center field by Delino DeShields, and another Houston base runner was cut down trying to stretch a single into a double by a magnificent throw from right fielder Nomar Mazara.

Jose LeClerc gave up a run in relief to take the loss in the 4-3 Houston win.  He’s 1-3 on the year.

Houston’s Carlos Correa did not play in the series.  He was pronounced fit for Sunday’s game, but with an off day on Monday, Hinch decided to wait two more days to put Correa back into the lineup.

The schedule is strange in many ways this year, and the strangeness shows this week.  The Rangers are off on Mondany, the fly to Los Angeles for two games with the Dodgers.  This series will be the Rangers’ first inter-league play of the season after 68 games against American League teams.  Texas is then off again on Thursday before returning to Arlington next weekend.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Bartolo Colon and Cole Hamels against the Dodgers.

The Astros are off Monday, and then meet the Athletics for three games in Oakland.  Lance McCullers, Jr., Gerrit Cole, and Justin Verlander are the announced starting pitchers.

NOTABLE:

*     ON BASE STREAKS:  The two longest current on-base streaks in the Majors belong to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo (26 games) and the Astros’ Alex Bregman (23 games), both of whom reached base in all four games.

*     The Rangers placed Doug Fister on the disabled list and brought up Hanser Alberto from Round Rock.  With two off days next week, Texas will not need a fifth starter again until June 19, and Banister felt the team was better served for this week’s interleague play with an extra position player.

 

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RANGERS SWEEP IN HOME RUN DERBY

COLON TIES DOMINICAN WIN RECORD

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers swept the Oakland Athletics to start the week, their first series sweep of the season.  Texas blasted Oakland pitching for nine home runs which drove in all but two of the 15 runs they scored in the series.  Bartolo Colon was the winning pitcher in Wednesday night’s series final, notching his first win in Arlington as a Ranger and the 243rd of his career.  That tied the legendary Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most wins by a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic.

Jurickson Profar staked a claim for consistent playing time when Elvis Andrus returns from injury.  He homered in each game, hit three total in the series and reached a career high with five RBIs in Wednesday’s game.  That’s the most RBIs for any Ranger in a game this year.

Colon started game two of the series.  He was far from good.  He gave up two runs on six hits, and struck out just one batter; but the performance was good enough to complete five innings to qualify for the win.  He never had a clean three up, three down inning; and the A’s ran up his pitch count to 97 to oust him after five innings.  Khris Davis (who else?) homered with a runner on base in the fifth inning for all the scoreboard damage Colon allowed on the night.

The pressure on Colon was eased by the backing of his offense.  Profar and Joey Gallo hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, Profar’s with a runner aboard, to stake Colon to an early 3-0 lead.  Profar pushed the lead to 4-0 with another home run in the third inning.  Ronald Guzman continued the home run barrage with a two run shot in the fourth inning.

The lead then was 6-0 going to the fifth inning, and 6-2 after Colon surrendered the home run to Davis.  Profar singled home two more runs in the seventh to make the final score 8-2, as four Ranger relievers kept the A’s off the scoreboard despite each of them giving up at least one hit.  Profar’s two RBIs in the seventh inning were the only two Ranger runs in the series that weren’t driven in with a home run.

Matt Moore was the Rangers’ game one starter.  He retired the first two batters of the game, and then Oakland swung the bats for two doubles and a single to take an immediate 2-0 lead.  As bad as Moore has been this season, it was easy for Ranger fans to think, “Oh no.  Here we go again”.

But surprise!  This turned into one of his two best starts of the season.  He gave up a solo home run in the fifth inning to Ranger killer Khris Davis, but that was it for scoring against Moore on this night.  He completed six innings, allowing the three runs on eight hits.

When Moore left, the Rangers trailed 3-1 with the run coming on a Robinson Chirinos home run – on his birthday no less!  Profar promptly cut the lead to one run with a solo home run in the Rangers’ half of the sixth, but the Athletics got that run back in the seventh inning with a double and a single off Alex Claudio.

The Rangers’ bats were just getting warmed up though.  Shin-Soo Choo pushed his hitting streak to 12 games, a season high for a Ranger, with a two run home run to tie the game at four.  Adrian Beltre then untied it in the eighth inning with his second home run of the year.

Two batters after Beltre’s round tripper, Gallo hit a two run blast with an exit velocity of 117 mph, the hardest hit ball by a Ranger in the Stat-cast era.

That extended the Rangers’ lead to 7-4, which was the final score when Keone Kela impressively struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning on 21 pitches.

With the wins over fourth place Oakland, the Rangers gained two games on getting out of the American League West cellar.  They now trail the A’s by five games in the standings, six in the loss column, and are 12.5 games behind first place Seattle.

Texas next hosts the Houston Astros for four games this weekend.  The Astros are somewhat reeling having dropped out of first place, trailing the Seattle Mariners by two games in the loss column.  The announced Ranger starters for the series are Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and Matt Moore.

NOTABLE:

*     The possibility of bringing Tim Lincecum back to the Major Leagues as a Ranger vanished Tuesday afternoon when the Rangers granted him his unconditional release.  His minor league rehab assignment came to an end leaving the Rangers the option of of adding him to the Major League roster or releasing him.  Lincecum appeared in 10 games with Round Rock with a 5.68 ERA in 12-2/3rds innings.

“We didn’t feel it was the right time to bring him up here,” GM Jon Daniels told the media before Tuesday’s game.  “He threw okay, but he was inconsistent with his command.  We were not of the mindset that he was an upgrade over our relievers.”

*     Khris Davis, like Profar and Gallo, homered in each game of the series.  He has now hit 21 home runs against Texas in 45 career games.

*     The Rangers won the series despite going 2-8 with runners in scoring position.

*     Shin-Soo Choo went 0-3 in Wednesday’s game to end his 12-game hitting streak.

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20 IN 20 ENDS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers’ stretch of 20 games in 20 days, the most allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the Player’s Union came to an end Sunday with a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.  Texas lost two of three in the series, finished the week with a 3-4 record, and finished the 20 game stretch at 9-11.

The Rangers offense struggled mightily this weekend.  They managed to score just four runs in the three games, and amazingly won one.  The win came Saturday night, one of the strangest games of the season.

Shin-Soo Choo singled on the first pitch of the game.  He was later erased on a double play.  Texas managed to push across an unearned run in the seventh inning, when Choo reached on an error leading off the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on two ground outs.

When the ninth inning rolled around, the Rangers still had just one hit, and the Angels led 2-1 on the strength of home runs from Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler.  Choo led off with a strikeout, but Jurickson Profar doubled.  A wild pitch moved Profar to third base and Nomar Mazara walked to put runners at first and third base with one out.

That set the stage for one of the strangest plays of the season.  Adrian Beltre flew out to deep left field, which should have easily tied the game.  Profar did tag up at third and headed for home.  However, Carlos Tocci, who pinch ran for Mazara, also tagged up at first base.  Left fielder Justin Upton made a strong throw to second base after the catch.  It was good enough to nip Tocci sliding into second base.

Home plate umpire C. B. Buckner initially ruled that the out was recorded at second base prior to Profar crossing the plate.  Hence, Profar’s run didn’t count, and the Angels had a win.  However, video review overturned the call.  Tocci was out at second, but Profar did score before the completion of the double play; so his run counted.

The Angels didn’t score in the ninth, so the game went to extra innings tied at two.  Ronald Guzman drove home Rougned Odor from second base with a single to short left field and two outs in the Rangers’ half of the 10th inning.  Odor ran hard and made an excellent slide to avoid the tag to score on a very close play.

Keone Kela blanked the Angels in the bottom of the 10th for his 13th save in as many opportunities.  Jake Diekman pitched the scoreless ninth inning to be the pitcher of record for the win.  Not to be forgotten are the seven solid innings Ranger starter Cole Hamels tossed to keep the game within striking distance when the ninth inning rolled around.  He gave up five hits, with the only scoreboard damage coming on the two home runs.

On Friday night, the Rangers couldn’t solve Angels’ starter Jaime Barria.  He shut out the Rangers over the first six innings on four hits.  Four relievers completed the whitewashing.

Ranger starter Bartolo Colon was knocked around pretty good, giving up six runs on eight hits in three innings.  Thankfully, Jesse Chavez bailed out the bullpen by finishing the game for the Rangers with five shutout innings.  6-0 was the final score.  Colon is 2-3 with the loss.

In the series finale, Doug Fister pitched a fine game for Texas, but got no help from the offense.  Fister gave up three runs on four hits over six innings.  Alex Claudio shut down the Halos in the seventh and eighth innings, but all the Rangers could put on the scoreboard was a single run on Mazara’s 14th home run in the eighth inning.  Fister is 1-6 with the loss.

The week started with a split of a four game series in Seattle.

The series opener on Memorial Day was a tightly played game, well pitched by both teams.  Odor bobbled a ground ball such that an inning ending double play in the sixth inning did not get turned.  The Mariners then scored two runs, their only scores on the night.

Odor had daringly run the bases, stealing third base to set up a Rangers’ score on a passed ball in the third inning.  That was all the scoring on the night.  2-1 was the final score.  The Rangers had very few scoring chances, and didn’t capitalize on any of them, going 0-3 with runners in scoring position.  They managed just five hits in the game, all singles.

The Rangers came back to win the next two days, 9-5 on Tuesday and 7-6 on Wednesday.  On Tuesday, the Mariners scored three in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead, with the Rangers’ run coming from a Choo home run.  The M’s extended the lead to 4-2 on a Nelson Cruz home run in the fourth inning.

It was still 4-2 in the sixth inning when the Rangers loaded the bases on a double, a single and a walk.  Improbably, the Rangers scored two runs to tie the game on a wild pitch and a passed ball.  Guzman then gave the Rangers their first lead of the game with a single that scored Joey Gallo from third base making the score 5-4.

Seattle pushed across an eighth inning run off Chris Martin to tie the game at five.  The Rangers promptly loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, and Odor just as promptly unloaded them with a double.  Guzman followed with another double to push the score to 9-5.

Alex Claudio (4-2) in relief was the winning pitcher, and Keone Kela blanked Seattle in the ninth in a non’save situation to make 9-5 the final score.

Matt Moore came off the disabled list to start Wednesday’s game for Texas.  He pitched into the sixth inning, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits.

The Texas offense rallied with a pair of runs in the fourth inning with RBI hits from Profar and Gallo.  Profar scored again in the sixth on a Robinson Chirinos’ single to bring the Rangers within a run at 4-3, but the Mariners matched the run in their half of the sixth.

In the seventh inning though, the Rangers took the lead for good. Mazara singled home two runs to tie the game at five.  Chirinos followed later in the inning with a two run double to put the Rangers ahead 7-5.

Kela gave up a run in the ninth on two hits, but earned the save.  Tony Barnette was the winning pitcher.  He’s 1-0.

The Rangers had a chance to win the series on Thursday, but it didn’t happen.  Mike Minor started for Texas and gave up five runs, four of which were earned.  Mazara homered in the fourth inning for the Rangers’ only score.  6-1 was the final, and Miner fell to 4-4 with the loss.

The Rangers enjoyed their first off day in three weeks Monday.  They are back home for six games in Arlington this week, starting with two against Oakland.  The announced starting pitchers are Matt Moore on Tuesday and Bartolo Colon on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

*    Adrian Beltre was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday in Seattle, started that night as the Ranger designated hitter, and went 2-4 at the plate.

*     The MLB Amateur Draft began Monday night.  The Rangers had two picks on Monday, taking Cole Winn, a right handed pitcher from Orange Lutheran High School in California with their first round pick, the 15th overall selection in the draft.  In the second round (55th overall selection), Texas took Owen White a right handed pitcher from Jesse Carson High School in North Carolina.  The Rangers were especially pleased with both picks.  The Rangers as well as many other draft predictors had Winn as a top 10 talent in this draft.  Texas was surprised he was available at 15.  Bleacher Report gave the Rangers grades of “A” and “A+” respectively for the selections.

 

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FIRST WINNING WEEK

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers split four games with Kansas City this weekend to finish the week and the homestand with a 4-3 record.  It was the first winning week and first winning home stand this season.

The old saying about a team’s momentum in baseball is that it’s only as good as their next day’s starting pitcher.  Any momentum the Rangers may have thought to have gotten from Wednesday night’s miracle comeback to win a series with the Yankees was dashed by Kansas City’s Danny Duffy.

The Royals’ starter came into Thursday’s series opening game struggling, but had little problem shutting down the Rangers.  Duffy threw 7-2/3rds innings allowing a run on four hits, while striking out six.  A sign of how bad he had struggled prior to Thursday’s turnaround performance is that his ERA still stood at an embarassing 6.14 after the game.  His record is 2-6 with the win.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx was added to the Rangers roster Thursday afternoon to make his first start of the year.  He wasn’t bad.  A fielding error in the second inning gave the Royals two unearned runs.  They tapped Bibens-Dirkx for two more runs in the fifth inning (earned this time).

He pitched into the seventh, departing with two runners on base that eventually scored to make his pitching line look non-illustreous – six runs allowed, four of which were earned on eight hits.  Overall, it was a good effort.  His innings pitched number was important as the Rangers are in the midst of 20 games in 20 days, such that saving the wear and tear on the bullpen is important.  Bibens-Dirkx is 0-1 with the loss.

The Rangers touched up the K. C. bullpen for another run after Duffy departed, and Matt Bush gave up a pair of runs to make the final score 8-2.

On Friday, Mike Minor was hit early for two home runs as the Rangers trailed 2-0 as they came to bat in the first inning and 3-2 as they came to bat in the third inning.  From there, Minor pitched well, and the offense did their job.  Minor came out of the game after giving up a lead-off single in the seventh inning.  The bullpen allowed that runner to score to take away his quality start.  Minor’s final line was six innings pitched with four earned runs allowed on seven hits.

Texas scored two runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings to take the lead for good.  They finished the night with three home runs – Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman.  All three of those hitters bat left-handed, and all three home runs were hit off left-handed pitchers.  It was Guzman’s fourth of the week.  8-4 was the final score.

Minor improved to 4-3 with the win.  Keone Kela was summoned in the ninth when Jake Diekman couldn’t close out the Royals.  Kela’s velocity was noticeably down, and his command was noticeably off; but he coaxed a Salvador Perez fly out to center field to end the game and earn his 11th save in as many opportunities.

On Saturday, the Rangers secured a minimum of a split in the series and a winning week with a 4-3 10 inning win.  Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher, and K. C. got to him for three runs on four hits in the third inning.  Other than the third inning, Colon was almost untouchable.  The only other hit he allowed was a lead-off double in the seventh inning.  It proved to be no problem, as Colon mowed down the next three batters.

Colon completed seven innings allowing just the three runs on five hits.  Jose LeClerc, Chris Martin and Alex Claudio pitched a shut out inning apiece after Colon left the game.

The Rangers rallied for single runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to tie the game.  That was all the scoring in regulation play.  In the Rangers’ half of the tenth inning, Choo led off with a home run for a 4-3 walkoff win.

Claudio (3-2) was the winning pitcher.

On Sunday, the Royals jumped on Cole Hamels early, scoring five runs in the first three innings to take charge of the game 5-0.

The Royals’ starter, Jason Hammel, has been struggling, but he threw a marvelous game.  He pitched 5-1/3rd shutout innings, striking out 10.  Every Ranger starter in the batting order struck out except for Jurickson Profar.

This game really turned on two situations.  In the first inning, two of the first three Royals singled to put runners on first and second with one out.  Jorge Soler hit a tailor made double play ball to third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa.  He picked it cleanly and threw to second base for one out.  However, Rougned Odor bobbled the ball as he tried to make the relay to first base to complete the double play.  The bobble was enough of a delay to allow Soler to be safe.

The inning thus continued, and Hunter Dozier, a native Texan who played at Stephen F. Austin University, singled both runners home after Soler stole second base.  Those two runs proved to be the difference in the game.

In the seventh inning after Hammel departed, the Rangers finally got on the scoreboard.  Joey Gallo greeted Eric Stout with a lead-off home run, and Robinson Chirinos added a two run shot to cut the gap to two runs at 5-3.

The second key moment came in the eighth inning. The Rangers threatened again with Kiner-Falefa leading off with a single and advancing to third base on two wild pitches.  One out later, Profar walked to put the tying runs on base.  That brought up Gallo, who struck out after getting ahead in the count 3-0, and Odor who weakly popped out to third base to end the inning.  The Rangers went quietly in the ninth inning.

Hamels goes to 3-5 with the loss.  Hammel goes to 2-5 with the win.

The Rangers departed immediately after Sunday’s game for Seattle.  They made their second trip to the Emerald City in the past two weeks, this time for a four game series.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Doug Fister, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Matt Moore, and Mike Minor.

Moore will come off the disabled list to make the start.  The Rangers are thus using six starting pitchers in this stretch to give an extra day of rest to the regulars in the rotation.

NOTABLE:

*     Shin-Soo Choo’s home runs in the second and third games of the series were the 175th and 176th of his career.  The first one tied and the second one moved him past Hideki Matsui for the most Major League home runs hit by a player born in Asia.

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HOME RUNS, WALKS & STRIKEOUTS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Baseball offense in 2018 has become home runs, walks and strikeouts as hitters counter defensive shifts with an all or nothing approach.  The Rangers – Yankees series this week proved to be the epitome of offensive baseball in this age.  They combined to hit 19 home runs, strike out 52 times and accept 24 bases on balls.  It resulted in 47 runs scored and a delightful series to watch, one with a little bit of everything.

The Yankees arrived in Arlington with the best record in baseball.  They were also the hottest team in baseball having won 21 of their previous 25 games.  The Rangers on the other hand limped home from Chicago having lost three of four games to the lowly White Sox.  Naturally, the Rangers proceeded to win two of the three games, their second consecutive home series win, but just their second home series win of the season.

The rubber game of the series on Wednesday proved to be the most remarkable game of the season to date.  Early on, it looked all Yankees.  Didi Gregorius hit a first inning home run after Aaron Judge had reached on a Jurickson Profar error.  The Yankees added another run on three singles and a walk to lead 3-0 before the Rangers even came to bat.

Neil Walker homered in the Yankees’ third inning to extend the lead to 4-0.  Meanwhile, CC Sabathia mowed down the Rangers without a hit over the first three innings.  The game saw the first big momentum shift in the bottom of the fourth.  Shin-Soo Choo led off with a single for the Rangers’ first hit of the game.  Two batters later, Nomar Mazara homered to cut the Yankees’ lead in half at 4-2.

Sabathia then walked two of the next three batters, and Ronald Guzman homered to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead.  Guzman is not regarded as a power hitter despite his size, but he hit a home run in each game of the series and now has five on the season.

The Ranger lead was short lived.  A single, double and single tied the game with one out in the fifth inning.  Gleyber Torres then homered to put the Yanks back in front 8-5.  Torres started the season at AAA and was ranked as one of the top two or three minor league prospects in baseball.  Since joining the Yanks, he’s showing why.  This home run was his fourth of the series and eighth of the year as he, like Guzman, homered in each game of the series.

That ended Doug Fister’s night as the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  His final line was eight runs allowed (six earned) on 11 hits over 4-1/3rd innings.  Tony Barnette followed and immediately gave up a double and a monstrous home run to Judge.  Statcast estimated Judge’s blast at 471 feet, which is believed to be the longest home run by a visiting player in Globe Life Ballpark history.

With the score 10-5, the Rangers’ goose looked cooked, but the Rangers had other ideas.  A one out single got the rally going in the Rangers’ half of the fifth inning.  It was followed by a triple and another single putting two runs on the board and trimming the New York lead to 10-7.  That chased Sabathia to the showers unable to complete the five innings required of a starting pitcher to qualify for the win despite 10 runs of support from his offense.

Alex Claudio relieved Barnette to start the sixth and retired three of the four batters he faced, two by strikeout.  In the Rangers’ sixth, Guzman led off with a single.  Another single and two walks followed to push across the Rangers’ eighth run of the game.  A strikeout later, Profar came to bat and unloaded the bases with a double to right center field.

The Rangers had come all the way back to take an 11-10 lead!

Texas added an insurance run in the eighth inning, and the Ranger bullpen shutout the Yanks the rest of the way for a 12-10 win.  It was the 64th game in ballpark history in which the losing team scored in double digits.

Claudio was the winning pitcher.  He’s 2-2.  Keone Kela needed 12 pitches to strike out the side in the ninth inning and earn his 10th save in 10 tries.

Monday night’s series opening game saw the Yankees hit five home runs and win 10-5.  Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter, and he gave up four of the home runs.  Matt Bush and Jesse Chavez finished the game after Colon was done.  Chavez gave up the Yankees’ fifth home run.  Colon (2-2) took the loss.

Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka (5-2) went just five innings for the win.  He gave up four runs, and Chad Green gave up the fifth Ranger run.

On Tuesday, Texas evened the series with a 6-4 win.  Eight of the 10 runs were driven in with home runs.

Cole Hamels was the Rangers’ star of the night.  He made his third straight quality start, giving up two home runs on four hits over seven innings.  He struck out seven.  His record improved to 3-4 with the win, and his ERA dropped to 3.38.

Profar batting fourth for the first time in his career, hit a three run home run in the first inning to stake Hamels to an early lead.  The Rangers added two more runs in the second inning without getting a hit.  Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch leading off.  A wild pitch and a groundout advanced him to third base where he scored on another wild pitch.  That wild pitch came on strike three to Ryan Rua, who reached first as the Yankees tried to get the out at home.  A walk and the third wild pitch of the inning moved Rua to third base, where he eventually scored on a groundout to increase the Ranger lead to 5-0.

Guzman capped the Rangers’ scoring with a fourth inning home run.

Torres hit a solo shot off Hamels in the third inning to put the New Yorkers on the scoreboard.  Miguel Andujar homered in the seventh inning to cut the Ranger lead to 6-2.  Andrew Romine hit the third Yankee home run off Jake Diekman in the eighth inning with a runner aboard to bring New York within two at 6-4.

Keone Kela however stopped the Yankees cold in the ninth inning, setting them down one-two-three on 15 pitches to earn his ninth save.

Texas now hosts the Kansas City Royals for four games over Memorial Day weekend.  The announced Ranger starting pitchers are Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Mike Minor, Bartolo Colon and Cole Hamels.

NOTABLE:

*     For the series, 32 of the 47 runs scored were driven in with home runs.  The 19 home runs hit in the series ties the Globe Life Ballpark record for home runs in a three game series.

*     Monday’s game was the first time in Yankee history to have three straight games with at least four home runs.  The last time that happened in the Majors, it was done by the Rangers in 2011.  No team has hit four or more home runs in four straight games, but the Yankees came close when they hit three on Tuesday night.

*     The eight home runs for both teams combined Monday night are the most hit in a game at Globe Life Ballpark since 2011.

*     Cole Hamels has a 2.18 ERA in the seven starts he has made in night games this year.

*     16 different Ranger players have hit at least one home run this season after Rougned Odor notched his first in the series opening game.  Last year, a total of 17 Rangers hit a home run.

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WHITE SOX DOUBLE HOME WINS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Chicago White Sox took three out of four in this weekend series with the Texas Rangers doubling their home wins on the season.  Chicago was 3-17 at home before the Rangers arrived and finished the weekend 6-18.  Even after taking the series, Chicago has the fewest wins in the American League.

Teams in general hate three city road trips and don’t play well in the third city.  That was true for Texas as they won one game in each city on this nine-game, three city trip, going 3-6.

The series started with bad news.  Cole Hamels woke up with neck stiffness and was scratched from Thursday’s start. Then there was good news.  Doug Fister took the start and turned in his best performance of the year – seven shut out innings on six hits.  He struck out four and walked no one.  The outing lowered his ERA to 3.43.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead to the eighth inning.  The news turned bad again, as the White Sox scored four unearned runs with two outs.  Jose LeClerc made the throwing error that opened the flood gates.  4-2 was the final score.  LeClerc was charged with his second blown save, and his record is 1-1 with the loss.

The Rangers and White Sox came into this series ranked 29th and 30th respectively in runs per game.  It was thus improbable that the teams would break out 17 runs of offense, but they did on Friday night.  The Rangers staked starter Matt Moore to a 3-0 lead before he took the mound.  Jurickson Profar singled with the bases loaded to plate the first two runs, and Joey Gallo followed with a single to drive in the third.

The Sox answered with a single, double and single in their half of the first inning to draw within a run at 3-2.  Both teams added a run in the second inning.  In the third though, the Rangers pulled away for good. They scored five runs to lead 9-3.  The big hit that blew the game open was a grand slam home run from Shin-Soo Choo.  It was the fourth slam of his career and first since 2010.

Moore kept the Sox off the scoreboard in the third inning, but the fourth didn’t go well.  He retired only two batters before departing the game, giving up two more runs.  He left with a 7.99 ERA and landed on the disabled list the next day.

Jesse Chavez relieved and tossed 2-2/3rds scoreless innings.  Alex Claudio and Tony Barnette finished the game with scoreless performances.  The Rangers added three more runs to make the final score 12-5.  Chavez (2-0) was awarded the win since the Ranger starter did not finish five innings.

Profar and Gallo accounted for most of the scoreboard damage besides Choo’s slam.  They collectively had five hits and each of them drove in three runs.

On Saturday, Ariel Jurado was called up from AA Frisco to be the starting pitcher.  He was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts for the Roughriders, and he gave a good account of himself.

“A lot of positives.  A lot to hang his hat on,” manager Jeff Banister said about Jurado Sunday on his pre-game radio interview.

Jurado gave up a hit in the first inning, but retired the Sox on 10 pitches.  He got the South Siders out 1-2-3 in the second inning including his first Major League strikeout.

Meanwhile the Rangers were staking him to a 3-0 lead, scoring two in the second inning and another in the third.  Three doubles from Nomar Mazara, Profar and Rougned Odor plated the first two runs, and Profar drove in the third with a sacrifice fly.

The roof caved in on Jurado in the third inning.  He retired two of the first three batters, but the final out of the inning proved illusive.  A walk, two singles and a triple followed giving the White Sox a 4-3 lead.

Jurado did come out to throw another three up, three down inning in the fourth.  He got into trouble in the fifth, but got two outs before being lifted.  Brandon Mann got the final out to keep the Sox off the scoreboard.

Jurado’s final stat line then was 4-2/3rds innings pitched, six hits, four earned runs, two strike outs and two walks.

Jose Abreu homered in the seventh inning off Kevin Jepson to make the final score 5-3.

Jurado was optioned back to Frisco on Sunday, and Chris Martin was activated from the disabled list.

On Sunday, Mike Minor pitched well, but Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez was better.  Lopez shut out the Rangers on two hits over eight innings to improve to 1-3.  Jace Fry put the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the ninth on 14 pitches for his first save.

Minor gave up a solo home run to Sox catcher Wellington Castillo in the second inning.  Three singles with a stolen base in the middle plated two more runs for Chicago in the third inning.  3-0 was the final score.

Minor came out after five innings, having thrown 90 pitches.  The count was a little high, but he struck out nine of the 15 batters he retired.  He simply got no offensive support.  He’s 3-3 with the loss.

The hole the Rangers have dug in the first seven weeks of the season got deeper this weekend.  Texas now trails first place Houston by 12 games.  All of the other four teams in the division have records over .500, such that the Rangers are eight games in loss column away from crawling out of last place.

The Rangers are back in Arlington for seven games starting with the Yankees on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesday’s game has the unusual start time of 6:15 PM.  The announced starting pitchers for the Rangers are Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, and Doug Fister.  This will be the Yankees’ only regular season trip to Arlington this year.

NOTABLE:

*     Texas has allowed 13 unearned runs in May and 28 unearned runs on the season, both Major League highs.

*     Texas has started seven players age 25 or less six times this season, including the first three games of this Chicago series.  Saturday’s lineup with Ariel Jurado pitching actually had eight starters 25 or younger.  No other team in baseball has started more than six in a game.

*     Jurickson Profar hit five doubles on the road trip and leads the Rangers with 12 doubles on the season.

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SEATTLE SPLIT

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners Wednesday afternoon to start the week with a split in their two game series. The win halted the Rangers’ three game losing streak and brought their record to 2-3 on the current road trip.

The series began Tuesday night with a very offensive and very interesting game. Mike Minor was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he turned in his worst start of the season. He was knocked out of the box in the fourth inning, charged with six runs on eight hits. Eleven of the 21 batters he faced reached base.

When Minor departed, the Rangers trailed 6-3, and as sluggish as the Ranger offense has been, it felt like a win in the books for Seattle. But this game was far from over. The Ranger bats came alive with three runs in the sixth to tie the game. Joey Gallo started the rally with his 13th home run. Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Rougned Odor followed with doubles to plate the second run, and Robinson Chirinos singled Odor home for the third run of the inning.

A walk, a single and a Ronald Guzman single gave the Rangers a 7-6 lead going to the bottom of the eighth. It looked to be set up perfectly for the win with the Rangers’ two best bullpen hands on tap to close out the game – Jose LeClerc for the eighth and Keone Kela for the ninth.

But again, this game did not go to form. A lead-off double followed by a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt tied the game and put a Mariner on second base with no outs. A successful sacrifice bunt and a single followed to put Seatte in the lead 8-7.

Seattle brought on closer Edwin Diaz to finish off the Rangers in the ninth inning, but still again, the game did not go to form. Jurickson Profar led off with a single and eventually scored on a Gallo groundout. That tied the game sending it to extra innings.

Neither team scored in the 10th, but in the 11th, Alex Claudio was hit with three consecutive one out singles to give the Mariners a 9-8 walkoff win. Claudio is 1-2 with the loss.

The Rangers came back with Bartolo Colon on Wednesday afternoon. He pitched his best game as a Ranger giving up four hits and no runs over 7-2/3rds innings. He notched the win to move his record to 2-1. His ERA dropped to 2.82 which now ranks ninth in the American League.

Seattle’s Christian Bergman was matching zeroes on the scoreboard with Colon.  He blanked the Rangers over seven innings on just two hits.

Once he left, the Rangers struck scoreboard gold against the M’s bullpen.

Delino DeShields doubled home Kiner-Falefa with two outs to give the Rangers the lead. Texas then added four insurance runs in the ninth inning, which included two runs scoring on a strikeout/wild pitch.  Seattle’s Kyle Seager homered in the bottom of the ninth to make the final score 5-1.

Texas is now 10.5 games out of first place (10 in the loss column), and they are solidly in last place trailing fourth place Oakland by 4.5 games (five in the loss column).

The Rangers departed Seattle immediately after the game to fly to Chicago. They meet the White Sox in a four game series this weekend. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor.

NOTABLE:

* Bartolo Colon is 14-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 16 starts at Seattle’s Safeco Park.

* As expected, Adrian Beltre was placed on the disabled list after leaving Sunday’s game in Houston with a hamstring issue. He is expected to miss two to three weeks. Utility infielder Hanser Alberto was added to the roster to take Beltre’s place.

* Tuesday night’s extra inning loss was the first of the season for the Rangers. They had won the four previous extra inning games this year.

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