BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The White Sox routed Texas 16-2 in Sunday’s series finale, but the Rangers won the series two games to one, and finished the home stand by winning all three series and seven of 10 games. Sunday’s loss ended a five game Ranger win streak which ties for the longest in the American League this year.
The opening game of the series was the best overall performance of the team this year; and at the end of the season, that may still be true. The offense set season highs for hits (18) and runs scored (12). Robinson Chirinos became the first Ranger to hit two home runs this year. Leonys Martin also homered to make this the first multi-home run game of the season.
On the pitching side, Martin Perez was absolutely magnificent. He threw a complete game shutout giving up three hits and a walk. 12-0 was the final score. He won his third game in four starts and lowered his ERA to 1.67 for the season. It’s only four starts, but Perez is pitching at an All-Star level.
The offense scored early staking Perez to a two run lead in the first inning. They essentially put the game out of reach with seven more runs in the third. Perez deserves a lot of credit for maintaining his focus with the big lead. He kept his pitches down in the zone coercing 11 groundouts in the game. Texas added single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Friday’s game was amazingly the fifth Ranger shutout in the first 17 games. The complete game, the first this season for Texas, gave the bullpen a badly needed day off. Neal Cotts for example had appeared in seven of the first 14 games of the year.
Saturday’s 6-3 win secured the series win, but was emotional on a different level. Colby Lewis was the winning pitcher. He was making his second start since returning from multiple surgeries that kept him out of the big leagues last year. He won for the first time in almost two years to even his record at 1-1.
The Rangers scored in the first inning, one more run than they scored for Lewis in his first start last Monday. A base running miscue limited the scoring to just one run, after the first three batters got hits, including number three hitter Alex Rios’s run scoring double. The White Sox came back to tie the game in the second inning as the first three batters singled to load the bases. Lewis though coolly coerced a ground ball to third that turned into an around the horn double play. The runner on third scored, but Tyler Flowers struck out to end the inning. With bases loaded and no outs a team is likely to score, and Lewis did a masterful job to hold the Sox, who came into the series leading the league in runs scored, to one run.
Texas came back in the fourth inning to add four more runs, the highlight of which was Prince Fielder’s second home run of the year. That was enough for Lewis to nab the win, which he qualified for by completing the fifth inning without further scoreboard damage. Last Monday, Lewis also gave up one run in five innings, and manager Ron Washington was criticized for sending him out to pitch in the sixth, when the roof caved in. Washington again sent Lewis out to start the sixth, but on a short leash. Washington called for a reliever when two of the first three Sox reached base.
Lewis left the game to a standing ovation. He is the most successful post season pitcher statistically. The crowd of more than 45,000 knew of his physical struggles and showed their appreciation. Chuck Morgan followed with another of his outstanding video pieces – highlights from many of Lewis’s past Ranger successes accompanied by John Sebastion’s recording of “Welcome Back”. Lewis spoke about his walk from the mound to the dugout and the crowd reaction after the game saying, “It was sentimental.”
Aaron Poreda and Jason Frasor got the final two outs in the sixth without any White Sox crossing the plate. Neal Cotts pitched a perfect seventh inning. Alexi Ogando ran into trouble giving up two runs in the eighth, but Kevin Kouzmanoff got one of those back with his second home run in the bottom half. Joakim Soria pitched a one-two-three ninth to nail down the win and his third save of the season. 6-3 was the final score.
Lewis told media members after the game, “I’d like to thank the Texas Rangers and the organization for giving me an opportunity tonight. It wouldn’t have meant as much for me to get back out there without having this uniform on.”
Sunday was a miserable performance. Robbie Ross started and gave up a two run home run to Jordan Danks in the third inning. Texas pushed across a run in the third and fourth innings, the latter without benefit of a base hit, to tie the game at two. However, the tie was short lived. A Kevin Kouzmanoff error in the fifth led to three unearned White Sox runs to give the Chicagoans the lead for good. Ross was knocked out in the sixth, allowing seven runs, four of which were earned, on the day. The bullpen gave up nine more including seven in the ninth inning, all surrendered by Hector Noesi.
Offensively, the Rangers managed just one more hit in the game for a total of two. Luis Sardinas, one of the top Ranger minor league prospects, singled in the eighth inning for his first Major League hit.
The highly successful home stand moved the Rangers solidly into second place in the West, 2.5 games behind Oakland and 2.5 games ahead of third place Los Angeles. At 11-8, the Rangers are tied with the Yankees for the second best record in the American League. Make no mistake about it though, the successful home stand came at the expense of bottom rung teams. When the playoffs begin in October, it is doubtful that the Astros, Mariners or White Sox will be among the 10 qualifiers.
The schedule stiffens this week. Texas is on the road, opening Monday night in Oakland for three games. After an off day on Thursday, the trip concludes with three more games over the weekend in Seattle. The team is back in town to host Oakland next week, followed by a trip to Los Angeles, so the next 12 games are all against divisional opponents. Yu Darvish (1-0, 0.82), Nick Martinez (0-0, 4.50) and Martin Perez (3-0, 1.86) are the announced starters in Oakland.
ROSTER MOVES: Friday, the Rangers placed Tanner Scheppers on the 15 day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow and forearm, which he now claims he has experienced since spring training. Left-handed reliever Aaron Poreda was called up from AAA Round Rock, and Express infielder Andy Parrino was designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Poreda. On Saturday, outfielder Jim Adduci was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger sustained sliding into second base Friday night. Adduci is expected to miss about four weeks. Infielder Luis Sardinas was recalled from AA Frisco.
INJURY UPDATE: Matt Harrison had an outstanding outing in a minor league rehab start on Saturday. He tossed eight shutout innings for Frisco, allowing three hits and a walk. He threw 86 pitches, 54 (63%) of which were strikes. He will likely be activated to pitch next weekend in Seattle.
* Kevin Kouzmanoff was hitless Sunday to end a 10 game hitting streak. On Monday, Kouzmanoff was named as the American League Player of the Week.