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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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SAN FRANCISCO AROSE

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Sand Francisco Giants arose from a game one loss to come back and win the last two to take the three game series with the Texas Rangers this weekend.  The Rangers’ week in the city by the bay ended Sunday with a 3-1 loss to give them a 2-4 record for the week.

It was players weekend.  The Rangers and Giants wore special jerseys and caps for all three games.  The Rangers caps were red with a blue bill, and the jerseys were powder blue with red sleeves.  The players put the name of their choice on the back of the jerseys.  They also were allowed to wear specially made shoes and to use specially made bats for the weekend.

The series started with a starting pitching foe with a familiar heritage.  Dereck Rodriguez, son of Ivan Rodriguez, was the Giants’ starting pitcher.  His chosen players’ weekend name was D-Rod, and D-Rod pitched extremely well with his father in the audience.  He held the Rangers hitless through the first four innings, and finished the night allowing two runs on three hits over six innings.  It was his ninth consecutive quality start, and his ERA stands at 2.30.

Needless to say, there was a proud Papa smiling over the performance of the Rangers’ opponent’s starting pitcher.

Drew Hutchison was the Ranger starter, and he coughed up four runs in the first inning.  He lasted just four innings, getting touched for six runs (all earned) on seven hits.

After six innings, the Giants led 6-2 with D-Rod in line for the win and Hutch (the name on Hutchison’s jersey) for the loss.

Texas scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to close to within two at 6-4, as the Giants’ bullpen cracked.  Ronald Guzman (Cepeda) grounded out and Robinson Chirinos (Pelo Buche) flew out to start the ninth inning.  Shin-Soo Choo (his name in Korean) hit what looked like a game ending ground ball.  However, Giants’ second sacker Joe Panik made an error on the play.  Choo was safe and the game continued.

Rougned Odor (El Tipo) followed Choo with a game tying home run.  Cory Gearrin (Gee Gee) kept the Giants off the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings.  A bases loaded walk in the 10th gave the Rangers their first lead of the game at 7-6; and Jose Leclerc (Pico) retired all three batters he faced in the botton of the 10th, including two by strikeout, to make 7-6 the final score and earn his seventh save.  Gearrin is 2-1 with the win.

Saturday afternoon’s game was very similar to the Friday’s with a different result.  Martin Perez (El De Las Matas) was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and like Hutch the night before, he gave up four first inning runs.

Like the Friday game, a fielding error brought Odor up to the plate and he homered.  This time with two on base in the eighth inning.  Like the Friday game, the Rangers rallied in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs.

Unlike Friday’s game, the Rangers failed to score in the ninth inning, making the Giants 5-3 winners.  Perez is 2-6 with the loss.

On Sunday, the Rangers faced another starting pitcher with connections to the team.  Derek Holland (Last Name) was the Giants’ starter, and he was very good.  He pitched into the seventh inning allowing a run on three hits.

Yovani Gallardo (Yo) was the Ranger starter, and he allowed a solo home run in the first inning, and a two run triple in the fourth inning.  Gallardo finished five innings allowing the three runs.

Both bullpens were steller.  Neither allowed a score.  3-1 was the final score with Holland (7-8) getting the win and Gallardo (7-3) the loss.

The Rangers are back home after an off day on Monday.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are in Arlington Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Dodgers won both games in a two game series in Los Angeles earlier this season.  The Rangers’ announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Tuesday and Mike Minor on Wednesday.  Unfortunately for local fans, the Dodgers will not be using Highland Park High School grad Clayton Kershaw in the series.  These two games will be the last inter-league games of the season in Arlington.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers’ bullpen allowed just one run in the series in 12 innings.

*     Friday night’s win was number 319 for Jeff Banister as manager, tying him for fourth place with Buck Showalter on the all time Ranger list.

 

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OAKLAND’s BANDWAGON ROLLS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Oakland Athletics have the best record in baseball since June 15, and the Texas Rangers saw why this week.  The Rangers scrambled to win Wednesday afternoon’s series finale to avoid a sweep after being steam rolled by terrific starting pitching in the first two games.

Mike Fiers started game one for Oakland.  He was pretty low in the pecking order of starting pitchers rumored to be available at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.  He in fact was not traded until August after dealing with the waiver process.  Unfortunately for the Rangers, he may be the best starting pitcher on the field that was traded around July 31.

On Monday night, Fiers made his third start for Oakland, and he was outstanding.  He shut out the Rangers for seven innings on one hit.  He walked one and struck out eight on 100 pitches.  He’s now 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA since the trade from the Tigers, and Oakland has won all three games he has started.  He’s 9-6, 3.21 on the season.

Run support was no problem.  Bartolo Colon made the start after not being able to go a day earlier in Arlington because of back stiffness.  He reportedly was walking around the clubhouse rather gingerly before the game.

During the game, he wasn’t able to get his pitches down in the strike zone.  He lasted five innings giving up 10 hits.  Three of the 10 were home runs that drove in six runs.  (Ranger killer Khris Davis naturally hit one of them!)  Four more hits were doubles, such that seven of the 10 hits went for extra bases.  He gave up seven runs on the night to run his ERA to 5.45.  He’s 7-11 with the loss.

Jeff Springs and Alex Claudio finished the game.  Each one surrendered a run to make the final score 9-0, as the Ranger hitters managed two hits and no runs off the two relievers that followed Fiers.

Tuesday’s middle game of the series was almost a carbon copy of game one.  Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Brett Anderson was just as good as Fiers, as he too threw seven shutout innings giving up just a walk and a single.  Jeurys Familia and Lou Trivino completed the shutout giving up just one more hit.

Rookie Ariel Jurado was the Rangers starter, and he gave up four runs on 10 hits over 5-1/3rd innings.  He was actually a little better than those numbers indicate.  Ranger manager Jeff Banister said he thought there were only three hard hit balls off him, and three of the four runs scored in the fifth and sixth innings after he’d been through the A’s batting order twice.  He took the loss to go to 2-3 on the year.

Matt Moore relieved Jurado and finished the game, giving up two more runs to make the final score 6-0.

The Rangers’ scoreless innings streak ended quickly on Wednesday afternoon.  Shin-Soo Choo hit the first pitch of the game for a home run.  It gave the Rangers a lead they never relinquished.

Choo walked to start the third inning and later scored on Adrian Beltre’s single.  Joey Gallo homered in the fourth inning.  Elvis Andrus singled in the fifth inning, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on another single from Beltre.  That put the Rangers ahead 4-0.

Mike Minor was the Ranger starter, and once again, he was very good.  He completed six shutout innings on 73 pitches allowing just one hit.  Oakland finally cracked the scoreboard with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings off Cory Gearrin and Chris Martin.

Jose Leclerc put the quietus on the A’s in the ninth, though, to nail down his sixth save in the 4-2 Ranger win.  Minor is 10-6 with the win.

The trip to the “city by the bay” continues Friday after an off day on Thursday.  The Rangers face the San Francisco Giants on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  The Rangers announced starting pitchers are Drew Hutchison, Martin Perez and Yovani Gallardo.

The Giants will start two Dereks (one is actually “Dereck”) with Rangers ties.  Dereck Rodriguez is scheduled to start Friday’s game.  He’s the son of Ranger Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez.  Derek Holland, a former Ranger that pitched the best post-season game in Ranger history in the 2011 World Series, starts Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     The A’s have won the season series against Texas as they now hold a 10-6 edge.  Texas goes back to Oakland September 7, 8 and 9.

*     The Rangers have 99 home runs from players in their age 25 and younger season.  Joey Gallo leads the way with 33.

*     Jose Leclerc has thrown 11 shutout innings in his last 11 appearances.  He has an 0.79 ERA in his last 22 appearances.

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RANGERS DROP ANGELS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers fought the elements and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to win this weekend’s series three games to one.  The final two games experienced rain delays that totalled three hours and 40 minutes.  With the series win, the Rangers turned in a 4-2 week, and have a 15-14 record since the All-Star break.

The series began with one of the most entertaining games of the season on Thursday.  It didn’t start well for the Rangers as the first five batters of the game rapped singles and ultimately  scored to put Texas in a 5-0 hole before even coming to bat  The Rangers answered with a Nomar Mazara two run home run in the bottom of the first inning to keep it close.  Mazara was seeing his first action in August as he was activated from the disabled list before the game.

The teams exchanged solo home runs in the second inning with the Angels’ coming from the bat of kole Calhoun and the Rangers from Joey Gallo.

Amazingly, Ranger starting pitcher Ariel Jurado was able to complete six innings with no further damage.

Los Angeles threatened in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases to start the inning with two singles and a walk.  It was clearly an opportunity to blow the game open; but instead, the Rangers closed out the Angels with a triple play.  A line shot down the third base line was fielded by Jurickson Profar on the short hop.  There was confusion as to whether he caught the ball in the air that worked in the Rangers’ favor.  Profar stepped on third base to force out the runner coming from second base, tagged the runner on third base for the second out, and threw to second base in plenty of time to force out the runner coming from first base.

Profar homered in the sixth inning to bring the Rangers within two at 6-4.  Matt Moore relieved Jurado and shut down the Angels in the seventh and eighth innings, remarkably doing so on just 16 pitches.

That brought the Rangers to bat in the eighth inning still trailing by two.  The Angels sent out Justin Anderson to start the inning, the seventh Angel pitcher of the night, as this was a bullpen game for Los Angeles.

A walk, hit by pitch and a double bumped the score to 6-5 with runners on second and third and no outs.  Another walk loaded the bases, but the Angels had a chance to get out of the inning with the lead when the next two Rangers struck out.

However, Shin-Soo Choo coaxed a walk to force in the tying run.  That ended Anderson’s night on the mound. Omar Morales replaced him.  The inning appeared to be over when Rougned Odor grounded out to second on a close play.  Ranger Manager Jeff Banister called for a replay, which showed that Odor was clearly safe.  The call was reversed and the Rangers led 7-6.  Morales then uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Robinson Chirinos to score from third on a nifty slide that eluded the tag.

The Rangers took the 8-6 lead to the ninth, and Jose Leclerc made that the final score when he put down Los Angeles for his third save.

Friday night, it was the Rangers that struck with an early five run inning.  In the second inning, Gallo doubled home the first two runs and then scored on a groundout.  Four straight singles scored the final two runs to put the Rangers in front 5-1.

Like the Angels on Thursday night, the Rangers added another run later in the game.  Carlos Tocci scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

Unlike the Angels on Thursday night, Texas made the six runs stand up for a win.  Drew Hutchison moved up a day to start the game after Mike Minor was scratched with back stiffness.  Hutchison scrambled through five innings, allowing two runs on five hits to earn the win, his first with the Rangers.  He’s 2-2 for the season.

Four relievers pitched an inning apiece to finish the game.  Leclerc took the ninth and was even better than Thursday night.  He struck out the side on 16 pitches to earn his fourth save.

The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for almost 2-1/2 hours because of rain.  It finally got started after 9:30 local time.  Martin Perez was the Ranger starting pitcher, moving up from his scheduled Sunday start.  He again disappointed.  The only good part of his performance was that he was able to complete six innings, giving up six runs on nine hits.

The Rangers came back to tie the game at six, but the Angels struck for five runs in the seventh inning off Eddie Butler.  Three singles to the first three batters Butler faced sent the first run home.  Shohei Ohtani then pinch hit and homered to put the Los Angeles ahead 10-6.  Butler also gave up another home run to Taylor Ward, who had made his Major League debut earlier in the week.

Texas added a run in the seventh inning to make the final score 11-7.  Butler is 2-3 with the loss.

The Rangers got off to a good start Sunday, retiring the Angels in the top of the first thanks to a strikeout/throw-out double play.  In their half of the inning, Choo doubled and Odor singled for a quick 1-0 lead.

The Angels answered back in the fourth inning, rallying for two runs.  That was all the scoreboard damage the Angels would do on this afternoon.  Yovani Gallardo started and finished six innings, allowing just the two runs on six hits.  It was the Rangers’ first quality start since August 3.

Matt Moore relieved Gallardo and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.  The score was still 2-1 when the Rangers came to bat.  Drew Robinson and Choo singled with one out.  Odor followed with his 15th home run to put the Rangers in the lead 4-2.

The second rain delay of the day ensued, but when play resumed, Cory Gearrin shut down the Angels in the eighth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.  Leclerc wrapped up the ninth inning with just eight pitches to earn his third save in the series and his fifth of the season.  Moore is 3-6 with the win

The Rangers now go to the city by the bay for the next week.  They begin with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday games against the A’s, and after an off day on Thursday, they complete the week with inter-league play against the Giants over the weekend.  Bartolo Colon is the announced starting pitcher for Texas on Monday, though there is some doubt that he’ll be physically able to make the start after getting skipped on Sunday with back stiffness.  The rotation is up in the air for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus went 0-4 in Thursday night’s series opening game to end his home hitting streak at 24 games.  He did however walk in the game, walk again in Friday’s game, and get hits in Saturday’s and Sunday’s game to extend his home on-base streak to 38 games.

*     Since the trade of Keone Kela to the Pirates, Jose Leclerc has save five games in five opportunities.  He has a scoreless streak of 10 innings in which he has struck out 15 batters and walked just one.  Opposing batters are hitting 3-32 against him in that span.

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