RANGERS SLAY GIANTS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers took two of three this weekend from the defending World Series Champions San Francisco Giants to win just their fifth home series of the season. The Texas bullpen coughed up a three run lead on Saturday night to lose in extra innings to keep the team from a sweep in the series and moving their record back to .500.

They finished the weekend with a 51-53 record that places them in third place in the American League West eight games behind Houston and four games behind Los Angeles. Texas holds a four game lead over fourth place Seattle and a five game lead over Oakland. The Rangers are now three games behind Minnesota for the second Wild Card playoff berth.

The highlight of the weekend was Cole Hamels’ start on Saturday night. Hamels was acquired in blockbuster eight player and cash trade that was agreed on Wednesday night and finalized on Friday. The sterling left-hander drew a crowd of 41,114, the fifth largest crowd of the season on strong walk-up ticket sales. Hamels had pitched a no-hitter over the Cubs in his previous start, which proved to be his last start for Philadelphia. He looked to possibly duplicate the feat by pitching two pristine innings to start Saturday’s game.

In the third though, Brandon Belk led off with a home run, the first Hamels has surrendered to a left-handed batter all season. Two doubles and a single followed to plate two more runs as San Francisco took a 3-2 lead, after Mitch Moreland had driven in a pair in the Rangers’ first.

Texas came back to tie the game at three in the fourth inning, then took the lead in the sixth inning. Bobby Wilson, a catcher claimed on waivers earlier in the week drove in both runs. Delino DeShields drove in another run to extend the Rangers’ lead to 5-3 before the sixth was over.

Hamels however surrendered another home run in the seventh inning to Buster Posey. That cut the Rangers’ lead to 5-4. Texas padded the lead with two more runs in the seventh inning.

Hamels came out for the eighth inning holding the 7-4 lead and promptly coaxed a ground out and struck out Angel Pagan for the first two outs. However, Joe Panik doubled to end Hamels night on the mound.

He left the field with a three run lead and a rousing standing ovation. Indeed, the atmosphere was electric in the stands with the anticipation of what a top of the rotation starter like Hamels can do for the team in this season’s pennant race.

Tanner Scheppers replaced Hamels, and he later left the field to a chorus of boos, as the Giants knocked him around to tie the game at seven. Hamels’ win was out the window, and so was the Rangers after Sam Dyson allowed a pair of solo home runs in the 11th inning.

San Francisco won 9-7. Hunter Strickland (2-1), the sixth of seven Giants’ relievers was credited with the win. Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless bottom of the eleventh to earn his 27th save of the season. Dyson (3-4) took the loss.

The Rangers won Friday night’s series opening game handily 6-3. Nick Martinez threw his best game since June. He allowed single runs in the first and second innings, but closed the door on the Giants from there. He pitched into the seventh inning allowing those two runs on seven hits.

Meanwhile the Rangers’ offense clicked for two runs in the first inning and four more in the second off World Series MVP Madison Baumgarner. Adrian Beltre homered in the first inning with a runner on. Elvis Andrus hit another two run home run to cap off the four run second inning. That was it for Ranger scoring on the night, but six runs proved to be enough.

Jake Diekman, the reliever acquired along with Hamels from Philadelphia, finished the seventh and pitched the eighth inning retiring all five batters he faced. Surprisingly, Shawn Tolleson pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation. It was his fourth straight game to pitch. He allowed a solo home run to Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford, but retired the other three batters he faced to end the game.

The win evened Martinez’s record at 6-6. Baumgarner took the loss to fall to 11-6.

On Sunday, Martin Perez pitched a marvelous game. He threw eight shutout innings, allowing just one hit. Josh Hamilton hit a two run home run to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead going into the ninth inning.

With one out in the ninth, Perez gave up a double to Pagan, and Ranger manager Jeff Banister had seen enough. He removed Perez from the game, even though his pitch count stood at just 80. A walk and two singles later, the Giants had cut the lead to 2-1 with the bases loaded. However, Hunter Pence grounded into a double play to end the game.

The final score was 2-1. Perez won his first game of the season to move to 1-2. Mike Leake (9-6), who pitched a terrific game himself, took the loss in his first start since getting traded to San Francisco. Sam Dyson earned his first Major League save.

There is no question that Ranger manager Jeff Banister has made questionable pitching changes in the past, but this weekend’s moves have escalated the conversation. Perez had been so masterful that taking him out and turning over the game to the Rangers’ bullpen was highly questionable. He used closer Shawn Tolleson on Saturday in a tie game for the fourth day in a row, rendering Tolleson unavailable on Sunday.

This could easily have been a three game sweep, and indeed should have been. It for sure was a lost opportunity for the Rangers to cut the lead in the division and for a Wild Card playoff berth. In any event though, the team has won four of its last five games.

The next opponent for Texas is the Astros. They will play in Arlington Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rangers hold a 5-4 edge in the first nine games between the two Lone Star state teams fighting for the Silver Boot trophy which is awarded annually to the winner of the season series. The announced starting pitchers for the series are Colby Lewis (11-4) verses Lance McCullers (5-3) on Monday, Yovani Gallardo (7-9) verses Mike Fiers (5-9) on Tuesday, and Nick Martinez (6-6) verses Scott Kazmir (6-5) on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

* Cole Hamels pitched a no-hit game in his last start for the Phillies, while his mound opponent on Saturday night, Chris Heston, pitched one on June 9 against the Mets. It was the first time that pitchers that had previously thrown no-hitters in the season had squared off against each other since 2010, when it happened twice.

* Rougned Odor was named Ranger Player of the Month for July. He hit .319 with five home runs, 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

* Texas has allowed five home runs in extra innings this year, tied for the most in baseball.

* The Giants’ series ended inter-league play in Arlington this season. There is one three game inter-league series remaining on the schedule, a three game set in San Diego that begins on Monday, August 31. Texas is 9-8 so far in inter-league play.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS RALLY FOR SPLIT

HAMELS DEAL GIVES A LIFT

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas rallied back from their most embarrassing loss of the year to win the final two games against the Yankees and gain a split in this week’s four game series. The Rangers won two games in a row at home for the first time in almost six weeks, capped off with a walk-off win in Thursday’s series finale. The acquisition of Cole Hamels from the Phillies obviously buoyed the team as they overcame three deficits in Thursday’s game to finally win in the ninth inning.

The Rangers started their two pitchers recovering from significant surgeries in the first two games – Matt Harrison and Martin Perez. Both were making their third start since being activated from the disabled list, and neither went well.

Harrison gave up hits to the bottom three in the batting order to start the third inning. Two of the three were for extra bases – a home run and a triple – and all three scored to erase the Rangers early 2-0 lead. Harrison ended up going six innings and allowing six runs to get tagged with his second loss. He’s 1-2, and his ERA is 6.75.

Alex Rodriguez celebrated his 40th birthday with a sixth inning home run. It was the sixth home run he has hit in his career on his birthday, the most ever for any player. Four of the six have come at Globe Life Ballpark, as he celebrated one of is birthdays as a Ranger with a three home run game at home. Monday’s home run also put him in a select club. He became the fourth player in Major League history to hit a home run as a teenager and in his 40′s. The other three are Ty Cobb, Gary Sheffield and former Ranger Rusty Staub.

Yankees’ shortstop Didi Gregorius hit a home run and drove in a career high four runs to supply the lightning. Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin drove home the Texas runs in the second inning.

The Rangers never scored again as 6-2 was the final score. Yankee starter Ivan Nova (3-3) was the winning pitcher.

Tuesday’s game started well for Perez. He retired the Yanks in the first innings without a score, and then his teammates plastered the scoreboard with a five spot in the bottom of the inning to seemingly take charge of the game. Yankees starter Chris Capuano recorded just two outs before being lifted for Diego Moreno who made his Major League debut. Five different Rangers walked in the inning, and all five runs scored with two outs.

Unfortunately, it was downhill from there, and it was a BIG hill. Perez didn’t retire a batter in the second inning, as the Yankees rallied to take a 6-5 lead with no outs. Wandy Rodriguez relieved, and he was equally ineffective. The Yankees almost batted around twice to score 11 runs in the inning.

It didn’t end there. The Yanks added 10 more runs before the night was over, while Texas never got a hit after the first inning.

21-5 was the final score. Perez (1-2) took the loss and Moreno (1-0) was the winning pitcher. He was outstanding as he pitched 5-1/3 innings and did not allow a hit, walking just one and striking out five.

There were a number of interesting statistics for the game. 11 runs is the most that has been scored in an inning in any Major League game this year. 21 runs is the most that has been scored in a game since the 2013 season. And despite the football-like score, Yankees reliever Adam Warren was credited with a save, as he worked the final three innings of the game. Ranger utility man Adam Rosales made his second pitching appearance this season, becoming the second Ranger position player to make two pitching appearances.

The carnage from the game struck for both teams on Wednesday. Capuano and Rodriguez were designated for assignment. The Yankees called up Caleb Cotham, another in the line of Vanderbilt players to reach the Majors. The Rangers added Alex Claudio and Jonathan Edwards to their depleted bullpen.

Colby Lewis continued his fine streak of starts Wednesday night. He completed six innings allowing two runs on seven hits. He left with a 5-2 lead, and that was the final score. The win improved his record to 11-4, easily the most wins of any Ranger pitcher this season.

Keone Kela, Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, collectively walking no one and giving up just one hit. Tolleson earned his 18th save

Wednesday’s win was overshadowed by the trade that the Rangers finalized with Philadelphia. Cole Hamels became a Ranger. Texas also received a fireballing left-handed reliever – Jake Diekman. He strikes out more than 11 batters per nine innings, but has control issues. Texas also gets cash to defray a portion of Hamels’ remaining salary of approximately $80 million. The amount is rumored to be $9.5 million.

The Rangers sent Matt Harrison and five prospects to the Phillies. Three of the prospects are pitchers – Jake Thompson, Jared Eickhoff and Alec Asher. Outfielder Nick Williams, a prospect with All-Star talent, and catcher Jorge Alfaro are the other two. Alfaro is out for the season with an ankle injury. He was playing for AA Frisco, as were Thompson and Williams. Eickhoff and Asher were on AAA Round Rock’s roster at the time of the trade.

The trade was not officially announced on Thursday, but the league has approved the transaction, a requirement with the money involved. Paperwork issues have delayed the finalization of the deal, which is expected to be announced before Friday night’s game.

The final game of the series was a see-saw affair. Yovani Gallardo gave up three first inning runs, but Texas came right back to tie in the bottom half of the inning. The Rangers added another to take a 4-3 lead in the second inning, but Gallardo coughed up the lead almost immediately, as he served up a home run pitch to Brian McCann with a runner on base.

However, the Rangers came back to tie the game at five when Ryan Rua hit an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning. Both teams scored a single run in the seventh inning, such that the game went to the bottom of the ninth tied at six.

Delino DeShields walked to start the inning. It was his third time to reach base in the game, as he also had two hits. Josh Hamilton came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second base. He took the first two pitches for balls, and then stroked a ground ball single to right field. Leonys Martin easily scored from second base for the game winner.

Each team hit three home runs, which drove in nine of the 13 runs scored in the game.

Neither starter pitched well. The Yankees’ C. C. Sabathia left after five innings, while Gallardo completed six. Both allowed five earned runs, but neither figured in the decisions. Yankees closer Andrew Miller (0-2) took the loss, while Tolleson (3-2), who pitched a four up three down ninth inning, was the winner.

The split in the series left the Rangers eight games out of first place behind the Astros, who swept the Angels in Houston to drop them into second place. Texas is six games behind Los Angeles, four games ahead of fourth place Seattle and five games ahead of cellar-dwelling Oakland.

The Rangers best chance of reaching the playoffs are as a Wild Card team. They are four games behind Minnesota for the second Wild Card playoff spot. More problematic is that there are six teams to pass to get that second play-off spot.

The home stand continues this weekend with perhaps the most attractive series of the year from a fans standpoint. The defending World Series Champions San Francisco Giants are in town for three games. In their last appearance at Globe Life Ballpark, the Giants piled on each other around the pitchers mound to celebrate winning the 2010 World Series after game five.

The Rangers announced starters are Nick Martinez (5-6) on Friday night and Martin Perez (1-2) on Sunday afternoon. Matt Harrison was originally announced as Saturday’s starting pitcher, so there is a good likelihood that Cole Hamels makes his first Ranger start Saturday. The Giants have announced Madison Baumgarner (11-6), Tim Hudson (6-8) and Chris Heston (11-5) as their starters.

NOTABLE:

* Texas is 16-9 (.640) against American League East competition.

* The official paid attendance for Tuesday night’s game was 28,403, the smallest Arlington crowd for a Yankee game since 2009.

* Each of the four games in the series lasted more than three hours.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS GET THEIR MAN

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Late in Wednesday night’s game, the word began to leak that the Rangers and Phillies had agreed on a trade that would send Cole Hamels to Texas. Neither club has confirmed that the deal has been agreed, but after the game, players in the Rangers’ clubhouse were excited and talking as if it was a “done deal”.

The trade ended up involving eight players and money. Texas receives not only Hamels, but left-handed reliever Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to defray the salaries owed Hamels for the remaining years of his contract, which total about $80 million.

The Rangers receive further monetary compensation by including Matt Harrison in the transaction, who is owed almost $28 million under his contract. The Phillies also received five minor league prospects, all of which are ranked among the Rangers’ top 30 minor leaguers. The five are RHP Jake Thompson (no. 4), outfielder Nick Williams (no.5), catcher Jorge Alfaro (no.6), RHP Jerad Eickhoff (no. 17), and RHP Alec Asher (no. 29). Thompson, Williams and Alfaro have played at AA Frisco this season. Eickhoff and Asher are currently at AAA Round Rock.

(Note: The prospect rankings noted here are from MLB.com and have been revised since the June amateur draft to include players selected this year.)

This trade may help the Rangers slim chances of contending for a playoff berth this season, but it is a trade that was made for the longer view. Hamels is signed through the 2018 season with a club option for 2019. Diekman is in his fourth year with Philadelphia and is contractually controllable for three more seasons.

Hamels is 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts with Philadelphia this year, which includes a no-hitter against the Cubs last Saturday. He is 31 and in his 10th year with the Phillies after being drafted in the first round in the 2002 Amateur Draft. For his career, he is 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA. He has made the National League All-Star team three times and was the MVP of the 2008 National League Championship Series and World Series.

Diekman is 2-1 with a 5.15 ERA in 41 appearances this year. He has averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in his career.

Harrison won 18 games and made the All-Star team in 2012, but back problems have limited him to nine starts in the three seasons since. Three of those starts have been this year. One was outstanding – six shutout innings against the Rockies in Denver – but the other two have not gone well. He’s 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA. His fastball velocity is noticeably less than it was prior to his back problems. The jury is out as to whether he will return to being a contributing back of the rotation starting pitcher, much less the All-Star that he once was.

There were a number of teams rumored to be in on Hamels with Philadelphia, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Astros. Houston is rumored to have made a very good offer that the Phillies were willing to accept. However, Hamels has a limited no trade clause that included the Astros, and he turned down the deal. He did not have the Rangers on his list of teams to which he could not be traded without his consent, which is one of the reasons the Rangers have been considered one of the favorites to land Hamels.

For next season, Hamels is expected to join Yu Darvish, and Derek Holland as the basis of the starting rotation. Martin Perez, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, likely will be one of the other two starters. Nick Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and Anthony Ranaudo will be candidates to fill out the rotation, and the Rangers could re-sign Colby Lewis, who recorded his team leading 11th win Wednesday night.

An official announcement on the trade is expected later today. Hamels will most certainly make his first Ranger start this weekend, most likely on Saturday when Harrison was originally announced as the starting pitcher.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS KEEP SEASON ALIVE

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers arrived in Anaheim for this weekend’s series with the Angels with the season literally on the line. An Angels three game sweep would have gotten the Rangers’ deficit in the West to 11.5 games, a knockout punch. Instead, Texas responded with a series win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They trailed in all three games and came back in two to take the series two games to one. The series win cut their deficit in the West to 7.5 games out of first place, and 6.5 games out of second. They now lead Seattle by two games and last place Oakland by 4.5.

Colby Lewis kicked off the series with one of his best starts of the year. He lasted 7-2/3rds innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He struck out a season high nine, a season high both for him personally and the Rangers. (Yovani Gallardo has also struck out nine in a game this season.) Lewis’s breaking ball was particularly sharp.

The Angels took the early lead on a Mike Trout solo home run in the third inning. Texas came back with three runs in the fifth inning. Josh Hamilton doubled with one out, moved to third on Elvis Andrus’s single and scored on an errant pickoff attempt. Sin-Shoo Choo then doubled home Andrus to grab the lead. Robinson Chirinos followed with a single to center field that plated Choo with the third run of the inning. Chirinos drove home Hamilton in the seventh inning on a squeeze play to complete the Rangers’ scoring on the night.

Lewis took that 4-1 lead into the eighth, He gave up a bunt single to start the inning, but retired the next two before surrendering another single that ended his night on the mound. He had thrown 103 pitches. Keone Kela relieved and promptly gave up a single to Trout which drove in the Angels second run. However, Kela zipped a fastball past Albert Pujols for called strike three to end the inning.

Sean Tolleson needed 13 pitches for a three up, three down ninth inning, including one strikeout, to earn his 16th save. Lewis (10-4) was the winning pitcher in the 4-2 game. He leads the Rangers in wins. Nick Tropeano started for Los Angeles and gave up all four Ranger runs on seven hits. He took the loss to fall to 1-1 on the season.

On Saturday, the Angels seemingly took charge of the game twice, but the Rangers kept coming back to finally win 7-6. Los Angeles looked in command with a 4-1 lead after three innings, but starter Hector Santiago unraveled in the fourth and fifth innings, allowing three Ranger runs to tie the game at four. One of the four runs was unearned on an Albert Pujols throwing error.

The Haloes came right back with single runs in their half of the fifth and sixth innings to retake the lead at 6-4. They were six outs away from a win, but a bonehead play cost them an out in the eighth inning leading to three runs for the Rangers. Neither team scored again.

Yovani Gallardo started for Texas in what many believe will be his last start as a Ranger. He did little to enhance his trade value, as he was knocked out in the fifth inning. 11 of the 23 batters he faced reached base, as he gave up five runs, all earned, on eight hits and three walks.

Four Ranger relievers followed with Spencer Patton throwing a four up, three down seventh inning to qualify for the win. He’s 1-0. Tanner Scheppers has struggled mightily in recent appearances, but he too pitched a four up, three down eighth inning with two strikeouts. Tolleson gave up a hit in the ninth, but retired Los Angeles on 10 pitches. He earned his 17th save in 18 tries. Joe Smith (4-3) started the eighth inning for L. A. and was charged with his fourth blown save and the loss.

The Rangers mustered nine hits. Rougned Odor had two including his seventh home run and 11th double of the season. Robinson Chirinos also had a pair of hits to drive in two runs.

On Sunday, the Rangers’ pitching cratered. Nick Martinez gave up four runs on six hits in five innings plus a batter in the sixth. He took the loss to fall to 5-6. Anthony Bass was the first of three relievers that followed Martinez in the sixth inning. Spencer Patton was the third, and he gave up the big blow of the inning – a grand slam home run to Trout. 8-2 was the score when the dust cleared after the sixth.

Los Angeles added five more runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Texas had a pair of two runs innings – too little, too late – to make the final score 13-6. Odor had another big day with two hits and three RBIs. Included was his eighth home run. In 32 games since his return from the minor leagues, Odor has hit .367 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus also had a multi-hit games.

The Rangers now come home for their longest home stand of the year. They play three series – 10 games over the next 10 days starting with the Yankees for four. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Matt Harrison (1-1) on Monday, Martin Perez (0-1) on Tuesday and TBA on Wednesday and Thursday. There is some likelihood that Wandy Rodriguez comes back to the rotation to start one of those TBA games, which would be his first start since the All-Star break. The Yankees counter with Ivan Nova (2-3) on Monday, TBA on Tuesday, Masahiro Tanaka (7-3) on Wednesday and Michael Pineda (9-7) on Thursday.

These pairings could easily change as the non-waiver trade deadline is Friday afternoon. It has been a slow developing market, but a flurry of trades are expected. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Rangers will do. Had they lost the series in Anaheim, they most certainly would have been sellers, with Gallardo, Lewis and perhaps Wandy Rodriguez as candidates to move to a new team. They instead won the series to revive their waning playoff hopes. There is continued speculation that the Rangers are extremely interested in the Phillies Cole Hamels, who pitched a no-hitter Saturday. Hamels is signed through 2018, with an option for 2019; such that he would be a long term addition to the Rangers’ starting rotation.

NOTABLE:

* Adrian Beltre became the 55th player in Major League history to play in 2,500 games Friday night.

* Texas was 5-4 on the road trip to bring their road record to 31-24 for the season. That’s the most road wins of any team in baseball. For the trip, Texas batted .305 with 52 runs scored, an average of 5.8 runs per game.

* The 55 road games that Texas has played are the most of any team in baseball. Consequently, they have 39 home games remaining this season, which may not be good news. The Rangers have lost 10 of their last 11 home games, and are 16-26 (.381) at home for the season, which is the lowest home winning percentage in the Majors.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS ROCK ROCKIES

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas lost game one, but came back to win the final two to win their first series out of the last five, two games to one. The Rangers got quality starts out of recently activated pitchers Matt Harrison and Martin Perez in the final two games to give the team a chance to win. Both pitchers were making their second appearances since being activated from the 60-day disabled list after significant surgeries that had kept them off the mound since last season. It was the first time this month that the Rangers have won two games in a row. The Rangers are still nine games out of first place with a record that’s four games under .500 at 45-49 despite the series win.

The first game was one of the more interesting games of the year. Nick Martinez was summoned from Round Rock to make the start for Texas after effectively taking a three week vacation. The Rangers optioned him to Round Rock after his last start on July 1 to slow the mounting innings total he has compiled this year. He pitched twice for the Express over the past three weeks for a total of six innings to ostensibly stay sharp.

Martinez had difficulty early with his command in the thinner Denver air. He gave up seven runs on seven hits in the first two innings, but rallied to retire the Rockies in the third and fourth innings without further scoreboard damage.

The Rangers’ offense began a comeback with two runs in the third inning. Tomas Telis, making his first start since being called up from Round Rock last week, and Prince Fielder singled home runs to cut the Colorado lead to five at 7-2. In the fifth inning, it became a game again as the Rangers scored three runs to get the lead down to two. Rougned Odor singled home a run, and Prince Fielder drove in two.

Meanwhile, the Rangers’ bullpen was magnificent. Anthony Bass, Spencer Patton and Sam Freeman followed Martinez with hitless, scoreless innings. Adrian Beltre doubled home a run in the seventh inning to bring Texas within a run at 7-6. They finally tied the game in the ninth inning, as Beltre again doubled home a run.

Tanner Scheppers had finished the eighth inning, and with the game tied, he came back out to start the ninth. Scheppers gave up two hits early on softly hit line drives that fell in. He retired just one batter before Ben Paulsen singled the game winning run home. Scheppers (3-1) was the losing pitcher and John Axford (2-2) was the winner for Colorado.

It was certainly one of the most disappointing losses of the season, but the team showed no sign of a hangover the next day. There’s an old saying about momentum in baseball – momentum is only as good as the next day’s pitcher. Matt Harrison proved to be that pitcher on Tuesday. He completed six shutout innings in clearly his best performance this year in the Majors or minors. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out two. He got nine groundouts and one flyout. Three of the groundouts turned into double plays

The offense showed up early and often. They struck for three runs in the second inning, and scored again in five of the final seven innings. Sin-Shoo Choo was the hitting star of the night. He hit for the cycle, driving in three runs. Delino DeShields, Jr. chipped in with four hits, and Rougned Odor, Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus also had multi-hit games to spearhead a 17 hit attack.

After Harrison departed, Spencer Patton, Keone Kela and Shawn Tolleson finished the game by tossing an inning each. They collectively allowed no runs on one hit and one walk. 9-0 was the final score. Harrison (1-1) was the winning pitcher, and Kyle Kendrick (3-11) took the loss for Colorado after giving up six runs on 10 hits in 4-1/3rd innings.

The Rangers led 5-0 early on Wednesday afternoon and led 8-4 late. Neither lead was safe. The Rockies tied the game at eight in the eighth inning. However, the Rangers came back with two in the ninth, both scoring on a bases loaded single off the bat of Andrus. Shawn Tolleson made the 10-8 score stand up as he quickly retired the Rockies in the ninth needing with just nine pitches. It was the ninth time the Rangers have scored in double digits this year.

Martin Perez was the Rangers’ starting pitcher. He got through six innings giving up four runs on six hits. An Odor error made one of the runs unearned, so the performance qualified as a quality start. Tanner Scheppers gave up four runs in the eighth inning to let Colorado back into the game, but he still qualified for the win. He’s 4-1. John Axford (2-3) took the loss for Colorado. Tolleson’s save was his 15th in 16 opportunities.

The Rangers are off Thursday and then complete the road trip with three games in Anaheim against the first place Angels this weekend. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Colby Lewis (9-4) on Friday night, Yovani Gallardo (7-9) on Saturday and Nick Matinez (5-6) on Sunday. Los Angeles counters with TBD, Hector Santiago (7-4) and Andrew Heaney (4-1). The Angels lead the season series seven games to two.

NOTABLE:

* Nick Martinez scored twice in Monday’s game. He became the first pitcher in Ranger history to score two runs in a game. The last pitcher to do so in franchise history was Paul Lindblad in 1971 for the Washington Senators.

* ESPN’s Keith Law released his updated rankings of Major League farm systems on Wednesday. The Rangers are third, moving up from11th in his rankings last January.

* Sin-Soo Choo’s cycle on Tuesday night was the eighth in Rangers history and the 306th in the history of Major League baseball.

* The Rangers improved to 7-7 in inter-league play. There are two inter-league series remaining on the Rangers’ schedule, both three game sets. They play the Giants on the next home stand and later go to San Diego.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HOUSTON WHACKS TEXAS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

American League All-Star starting pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, struck out a career high 13 batters in seven shutout innings to lead the Astros to a 10-0 victory over the Rangers Sunday afternoon in Minute Maid Park. Houston took Sunday’s rubber match to take the series two games to one. The Rangers are now five games under .500 at 43-48, good enough for third place in the West, 6.5 games behind second place Houston and 1.5 games ahead of fourth place Seattle.

Game one on Friday night marked the return of Martin Perez to the Rangers starting rotation. He was making his first start in more than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Perez lasted five innings, throwing 86 pitches and allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked the first batter he faced, but got out of the inning facing the minimum number of batters as he coaxed a pair of ground balls from the next two hitters, the first of which was good for a double play. A leadoff triple in the second inning led to the Astros first run. A pair of doubles to the first two batters in the third inning led to two more runs. All in all, it was a successful first start.

The Rangers rallied for single runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Three Ranger pitchers threw three hitless and scoreless innings in relief of Perez, but the offense couldn’t find another run in the eighth and ninth innings. Texas managed just the two runs despite knocking Astros’ pitchers for 15 hits.

3-2 was the final score. Perez (0-1) was the losing pitcher. Colin McHugh (10-5) was the Astros starting and winning pitcher. Three Houston relievers pitched innings seven, eight and nine. Luke Gregerson gave up a hit, but retired the other three Rangers he faced in the ninth inning to earn the save, his 19th this season.

Saturday’s game was promoted as 80′s night. Both teams wore retro-uniforms from the era. The Rangers wore powder blue, double knit pants and jerseys. Houston wore their famous (infamous?) rainbow orange and black jerseys. Neither look is one of the top uniform combinations in either team’s history.

On paper, Saturday’s pitching matchup looked to give the Rangers their best chance to win a game in this series. Colby Lewis came in with a 5-0 record at Minute Maid Park, while Scott Feldman came off the disabled list to start for the Astros.

Lewis did his part. He pitched into the eighth inning, and the Rangers built a 5-1 lead to take into the bottom of the eighth. Lewis retired the leadoff batter in that inning, but Jon Singleton followed with a single to end Lewis’ night at 100 pitches. It was just the fourth hit of the game for Houston.

Tanner Scheppers relieved and wasn’t effective. Scheppers retired the first batter he faced on a force out, but that was the only out he would record. Jose Altuve doubled home one run. Scheppers walked the next batter and then allowed a run scoring single. The final batter that Scheppers faced hit what looked like a routine ground ball to short. However, Elvis Andrus couldn’t come with it, and it rolled into center field scoring another Houston run. It was Andrus’s 16th error of the season. That allowed the third run of the inning to score bringing Houston to within a run at 5-4. Sam Freeman relieved Scheppers and got the final out.

The Rangers appeared to salt the game away in the top of the ninth. Adrian Beltre singled home a run, and then scored himself on a Josh Hamilton double to extend the lead to three runs at 7-4.

Shawn Tolleson took the mound to start the ninth, and the game complexion changed instantaneously. Colby Rasmus doubled and Hank Conger homered to again bring the Astros within a run at 7-6. Tolleson however slammed the door at that point. He struck out the next hitter and coaxed two ground balls to end the game.

Lewis was charged with two runs lowering his ERA to 4.63. His record is 9-4 with the win, the most wins on the Rangers’ staff. Tolleson earned his 14th save. Feldman was knocked around for four runs on nine hits and two walks over 5-2/3rds innings. He took the loss to fall to 4-5.

The Rangers’ offense almost matched Friday night’s hit output with 14. Of note, Sin-Shoo Choo, who did not start Friday’s game, was 2-2 with a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt, and a stolen base. Josh Hamilton looked awful striking out his first two times up, but seemed to click in to finish with three hits, which included a double and his third home run. There is no question that if these two players go on a tear, the Rangers’ offense will be in much better shape.

Sunday’s game was no contest. Keuchel, the former Arkansas Razorback pitcher, was simply magnificent en route to his 12th win against four losses. He’s definitely in the conversation when the subject is “who is the best pitcher in the American League?”, as his 12 wins leads the A. L. He gave up just two hits early in the game and retired the final 18 batters faced. It was a dominating performance.

The Astros offense made Keuchel’s job easier by scoring early and often. Houston’s exciting rookie shortstop, Carlos Correa, doubled home a run in the third, and Rasmus followed with a home run to take a 3-0 lead. They added two more in the fifth, three in the sixth and two in the seventh to run the score up to 10-0.

Yovani Gallardo was the Texas starting and losing pitcher. He simply didn’t have it as he pitched two batters into the fifth inning, neither of which he retired, before Jeff Banister replaced him. It tied his shortest outing of the year (four innings) as he gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks to drop his record to 7-9.

Texas looks more and more like a team that will be selling veterans as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. They have now lost three series in a row; nine of the their last 11 games. The Rangers are 3-10 in July and 6-17 in their last 23 games, a .261 winning percentage. Both their July record and their record over the past 23 games are the lowest winning percentage in the Majors for those time frames. They have won just one of 12 series and have a 12-25 record (a .324 winning percentage) against their A. L. West competitors.

This road trip now moves west one time zone to Denver as Texas plays Colorado Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Nick Martinez (5-5) on Monday, Matt Harrison (0-1) on Tuesday and Martin Perez (0-1) on Wednesday.

Wandy Rodriguez was originally scheduled to start Monday’s game, but his curve doesn’t break as well in the thinner Denver air; so the Rangers switched to Martinez, who threw six innings and allowed three earned runs in two abbreviated starts at Round Rock after being sent down on July 2 to rest. Colorado counters with Chris Rusin (3-3), Kyle Kendrick (3-10) and Jorge De La Rosa (6-3). Rusin and De La Rosa are lefthanders. Texas was 1-3 against the Rockies last year, including 0-2 in Denver.

NOTABLE:

* The current road trip which began in Houston and ends in Anaheim with Denver in the middle is the Rangers first three time zone road trip since 2007.

* Texas is 14-20 in games started by opponents’ left-handed pitchers.

* Adrian Beltre tied Graig Nettles Sunday for the second most games played at third base with 2,412. Brooks Robinson with 2,870 is the all time leader. Beltre needs to play just four more games at any position to become the 54th player in MLB history to play in 2.500 games.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO TAKES TEXAS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The San Diego Padres took two of three this weekend to finish the first half of the season. Texas lost four of five games on the week, lost seven of eight games on the home stand, fell four games under .500, and trail surging Los Angeles by six games. Houston has lost six straight games to fall behind the Angels in the West. The Rangers have now lost three series in a row and a golden opportunity to make up ground in the standings with Houston’s losing streak.

The series began with a Ranger win Friday night. Wandy Rodriguez won for the first time this season at Globe Life Ballpark. He gave up a run in 5-1/3 innings on only three hits, one of which was a Melvin Upton, Jr. home run. He walked two and struck out five. The win improved his record to 6-4 for the season.

Rodriguez was supported by a pair of home runs. Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre went back-to-back with solo home runs in the fourth inning, which doubled the Rangers lead from 2-0 to 4-0. Fielder and Carlos Corporan had driven in the first two runs on a sacrifice fly and ground out.

In the eighth inning, the Padres pulled to within a run by scoring a pair off Tanner Scheppers. Shawn Tolleson nailed down the win though in the ninth inning earning his 13th save. San Diego’s Ian Kennedy (4-9) was tagged with the loss.

On Saturday, the Rangers looked poised to win the series as they took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning. They managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory however, as the Padres rallied for three runs, the last two of which scored with two outs on a Yangervis Solarte home run, his fifth. It was Tolleson’s first blown save of the year. He was charged with the loss to fall to 2-2.

Colby Lewis was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he threw one of his best games. He gave up three runs on five hits, one of which was a two run home run off the bat of Matt Kemp, over seven innings. Scheppers and Sam Freeman took care of the eighth inning to set up the fateful ninth.

Texas was led offensively by Mitch Moreland, who hit two home runs and drove in three. It was Moreland’s third two-home run game of the year, but the first that Texas did not win.

Padres reliever, Joaquin Benoit (6-4), was the winning pitcher in relief of “Big Game” James Shields. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to earn his 22nd save.

The Pads took the rubber game of the series Sunday afternoon by a 2-1 score. Tyson Ross (6-7) was San Diego’s starting and winning pitcher. He gave up just three hits over 6-2/3rds shutout innings. Kimbrel came on in the eighth inning for a four out save, his 23rd, giving up the Rangers’ lone run of the day in the ninth inning before striking out Leonys Martin to end the game.

Yovani Gallardo started for Texas and took the loss as he gave up one run on six hits. Keone Kela surrendered the other Padres’ run in the seventh inning.

At six games out of first place in the West and tied with two other teams at 5.5 games out of the second Wild Card playoff spot, the Rangers are certainly mathematically in the race. Oakland has the worst record in the A. L., yet they are only eight games out of the second Wild Card spot. Literally no A. L. team has been essentially eliminated from the playoffs.

Texas was miserable in April (7-14), but got back into the race with a 19-11 May. June started well at 11-6 to reach a season high six games over .500, but their fortunes have turned down from there. They have dropped to four games under .500 since, which includes 2-8 in July.

The bottom line is that the Rangers will have some tough decisions to make over the next couple of weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Teams hate to send the message that they are giving up on the season by trading veterans to contenders; but at the same time, thinking a team really has a chance to make the playoffs when they really don’t has led teams to miss great opportunities to enhance their talent base for the long run.

The Rangers, except for Prince Fielder, are off this week for the All-Star break. Play resumes Friday in Houston, the first of a three game set, and the first series in a three series, nine game road trip. Texas has not announced their starting pitchers for the series, but Houston plans to start Collin McHugh (9-5) on Friday, Scott Feldman (4-4) on Saturday and Dallas Keuchel (11-4) on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

* Neftali Feliz turned down the Rangers’ offer to go to Triple-A after he cleared waivers and opted for free agency. He almost immediately signed with the Tigers and pitched out of their bullpen Saturday. According to Brooks Baseball, he threw 10 fastballs in his appearance that averaged 98.9 MPH, and topped out at 99.5. He threw 15 pitches total as he faced three batters, giving up a lead-off single, but getting a double play ground ball from the next batter and striking out the third.

* Nick Martinez started for Round Rock Saturday night, allowing a run on four hits over four innings. He struck out four. Martinez likely starts one of the Rangers’ first five games after the All-Star break.

* On Saturday, reliever Ross Detwiler was designated for assignment. Reliever Roman Mendez was recalled from AAA Round Rock to take Detwiler’s place on the active roster.

* Texas finished the first half with a 16-26 record at home and a 26-20 record on the road. The Rangers have a losing record at the All-Star break for the second year in a row, but have won four more games this season.

* Texas is 5-6 in interleague play, having lost five of their last six interleague games. There are three three-game interleague series remaining – the Giants in Arlington and the Padres and Rockies on the road.

* In Sunday’s “Futures Game”, the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara went 2-3 as the designated hitter for the World Team. Nick Williams, the Rangers’ number seven minor league prospect according to MLB.com, came off the US team’s bench to drive in a run in the sixth inning as the US team won 10-1.

* Prince Fielder made the All-Star team three times with Milwaukee and twice with Detroit. He is the 79th Major League player to make the All-Star team with at least three different teams. He is batting .429 in All-Star games (3-7) with a double, triple and home run, and four RBIs. He was the MVP of the 2011 All-Star game.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HOME WOES CONTINUE

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Arizona swept Texas in a two game set to run the Rangers’ losing streak to five games, home losing streak to eight games, and home record to 15-24. Arizona ended Yovani Gallardo’s scoreless innings streak in game one and pounded Matt Harrison, making his first start in almost 14 months after spinal fusion surgery, in game two and take the season series three games to one, after earlier splitting a pair in Phoenix.

Texas is on the edge of seeing this season go down the tubes as far as being a playoff contender is concerned, as they trail first place Houston by seven games and second place Los Angeles by 5.5 in the West Division. They are five games out for the second Wild Card playoff spot with five teams to pass.

Gallardo, the Rangers’ hottest pitcher, tried to snap the losing streak Tuesday night. He had a string of 29-1/3rd consecutive innings over his five previous starts on the line. However, it was obvious from the beginning that he wasn’t sharp. He gave up a base runner in every inning, and was fortunate to escape scoreboard damage until the fifth. The first two batters reached in the second inning, but Chris Owings popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt that Gallardo turned into a double play to quell that rally. Two innings later, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with one out, and Nick Ahmed lined sharply to second base for an inning ending double play.

Gallardo’s luck ran out in the fifth inning. A long fly ball to left center was dropped by Josh Hamilton. It was rightly scored a triple, but it was catchable. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a walk and stolen base. With two outs, Jake Lamb drove in both runners with a broken bat single to center field. Officially, Gallardo’s streak ended at 33-1/3rd innings, which is the third longest streak in Texas/Washington franchise history behind 39 scoreless innings for Kenny Rogers in 1995 and 36 by Charlie Hough in 1983.

Gallardo was replaced with two outs in the sixth inning after giving up another run. For the night, he was charged with three earned runs on eight hits and five walks.

Sam Freeman finished the sixth inning by retiring the only batter he faced. He was the first of six Ranger relievers that finished the game. The seven pitchers used in the game is the most in two seasons in games played in months other than September when the rosters expand. Spencer Patton was the reliever that gave up a fourth run to Arizona.

The Rangers offense was essentially a no-show. They were on the verge of being shut out for the second time in three games as they mustered just two hits in the first seven innings off D-Backs starter Robbie Ray. Elvis Andrus, who had the Rangers first hit of the night in the fifth inning, led off the eighth by reaching third base when his fly ball to right field was dropped. Sin-Shoo Choo followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Andrus to end the shutout. With two outs in the inning, Delino DeShields, Jr. doubled and came home on Rougned Odor’s single, to score a second unearned run.

That narrowed the gap to 4-2, which proved to be the final score as Brad Ziegler closed out the Rangers in the ninth inning on 12 pitches. Ray (3-4) was the winning pitcher. Gallardo (7-7) took the loss. Ziegler earned his 13th save.

On Wednesday, Matt Harrison made his first start since early in the 2014 season. He had been knocked around in his minor league rehab starts, so there was no reason to believe the results would differ at the Major League level. He gave up five runs in the second inning, with the big hit being an A. J. Pollock three run home run. Harrison finished four innings allowing six runs total on six hits and three walks. Anthony Bass followed and gave up a home run to increase Arizona’s run total to seven.

The Rangers came back with two runs in the third inning, with Choo driving in one on a ground out, and Fielder driving in another with a single. Hamilton drove home a third run in the fifth inning, and Choo drove home another in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.

7-4 was the final score. Harrison (0-1) was the losing pitcher for Texas. Randall Delgado (4-2) was the D-Backs winning pitcher in relief after starter Jeremy Hellickson failed to qualify for the win because he left after four innings with a blister problem. Brad Ziegler finished the game for Arizona to earn his second save in as many nights and his 14th overall.

The Rangers have their second off day of the week on Thursday and then host San Diego for three games this weekend before next week’s break for the All-Star game. San Diego arrives in fourth place in the N. L. West with a 39-48 record. The Rangers are 13-12 all time against the Padres, which makes their first appearance in Arlington since 2009. This is the first of two three-game series with San Diego this season as the Rangers will play three more games against the Pads in Petco Park in early September.

Texas starts Wandy Rodriguez (5-4) on Friday, Colby Lewis (8-3) on Saturday, and Yovani Gallardo (7-7) on Sunday afternoon. The Padres’ starters are tentatively expected to be Ian Kennedy (4-8), “Big Game” James Shields (7-3) and Tyson Ross (5-7).

NOTABLE:

* Ranger radio play-by-play announcer Eric Nadel is on vacation this week. He did not call either game against Arizona and will not be behind the mic this weekend for the San Diego series. Jared Sandler joined Matt Hicks to broadcast this week’s games.

* Martin Perez made his fifth rehab start Tuesday night with AAA Round Rock. He completed six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, one of which was a home run. He walked none and struck out six. He was very efficient as he needed just 79 pitches (13 per inning). He likely will make one more minor league rehab start to stay sharp and then join the Rangers to start one of the first five games after the All-Star break.

* Prince Fielder is the Rangers’ lone All-Star representative. He will also participate in the Home Run Derby contest next Monday, which he has won twice previously.

* Texas has just three saves in home games this year with 39 home games in the books. That’s the fewest in baseball. Toronto with five is the next team on the list.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ANGELS ROUT RANGERS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Los Angeles Angels swept a three game series with Texas this weekend by routing the Rangers in all three games. The Angels torched Ranger pitchers for 33 runs on 47 hits, while the Rangers scored just eight runs in the series. After being swept, Texas fell below .500 at 41-42. They are now in third place 6.5 games behind first place Houston. They trail second place L. A. by 3.5 games and lead fourth place Seattle by 2.5.

The series opener on Friday night turned into an Angels’ runaway early. Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez couldn’t get out of the second inning as he gave up six runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks. He lasted just 52 pitches as his record fell to 2-4 with the loss.

Anthony Bass followed and did his usual fine job as an unsung hero. He gave up two runs in a lost cause, but completed 4-1/3rd innings to save most of the bullpen for the rest of the series. Bass woke up Saturday morning leading the Major Leagues in relief innings pitched this year with 45-2/rds. Neftali Feliz threw two scoreless innings and Ross Detwiler finished off L. A. in the ninth.

The former Oklahoma Sooner, Garrett Richards, pitched into the eighth inning for the Angels to win his ninth game. He has five losses. Richards gave up one run, and Mike Morin pitching the ninth inning allowed a Ryan Rua home run. 8-2 was the final score.

Perhaps the bigger Ranger news came after the game. The club announced that Feliz had been designated for assignment. They needed a spot on both the 40-man and 25-man active roster for the activation of Matt Harrison from the 60-day disabled list. Feliz was the surprising choice. The Rangers have 10 days to trade, waive or release him. He is just 27 and has saved 93 games in his career. There will be more than one team in baseball wanting to see if they can get him turned around, so he’s almost a certainty to be traded.

Before Saturday’s game, Texas sent Gonzalez to AAA, and Anthony Ranaudo was called up. Ranaudo has made two spot starts for Texas this year. With two off days this week, he won’t get a start, but will be the long man in the Rangers’ bullpen.

The Rangers really laid an egg on the Fourth of July. Wandy Rodriguez started and gave up three runs in the second inning, and single runs in the third and fourth. He used 103 pitches in five innings, so was cooked.

Spencer Patton came on to start the sixth. He couldn’t finish it though as the Angels put this game away with a six run inning. The big hit was C. J. Cron’s eighth home run of the season with two runners aboard. Detwiler pitched for the second day in a row to get the Angels out in the sixth. He also pitched the seventh and eighth giving up two more runs.

Cron was 3-4 on the night and drove in a career high six runs. Kole Calhoun also had a big night for L. A. He went 2-5 with a home run and five RBIs.

The Rangers’ offense was a no-show. Hector Santiago, another left-hander, shut down the Rangers on three hits over seven innings. Cesar Ramos finished the game and gave up two more hits. Among the five, a Rougned Odor double was the only hit for extra bases. The Rangers never scored.

13-0 was the final score which made the Rangers’ all time Fourth of July record 24-22, 17-11 in games played in Arlington. Santiago (5-4) was the winning pitcher. It was his second win over the Rangers this season. Rodriguez (5-4) took the loss. His ERA is up to 4.23 as he becomes a candidate to get dropped from the rotation when Martin Perez returns to the active roster. It was the fifth game this season that the Rangers have been shut out, but the first in Arlington.

The Angels’ rout in the Sunday’s series finale started early. They scored in each of the first five innings to build a 12-1 lead. C. J. Cron had four more hits as he makes batting against Texas look like machine pitch. He has struggled this season, such that the eight hits he garnered in this series elevated his batting average to only .238. He oddly has more hits against the Rangers this year than he has against all other teams he has faced combined. Pujols and Calhoun hit home runs and collectively drove in half the 12 runs.

Texas scored five runs late to close the gap to six runs. Rougned Odor hit his fourth home run and drove in half the runs. He’s been smoking hot since returning from a tune-up stint in the minor leagues. He’s hitting .365 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in the last 17 games since returning to the active roster. Despite his horrible start before the demotion to AAA, he now has more RBIs (22) than middle of the batting order stalwart Adrian Beltre (21).

12-6 was the final score. Colby Lewis (8-4) started and gave up 10 runs on 12 hits. He took the loss as his ERA ballooned up to 4.83. Former Ranger Christopher John Wilson (7-6) completed six innings and gave up three runs to earn the win.

The offense continues to sputter. Delino DeShields, Jr. was activated for game three of this series. However, Josh Hamilton missed the final two games of the series as he struggles with injuries. Beltre undoubtedly returned too early from his thumb laceration. He struggles with a .212 batting average in 13 games since he was activated from the disabled list. I. E., the three key offensive players that have been on the disabled list recently have yet to produce since coming back.

Monday is an off day, and then the Rangers finish the pre-All-Star Game portion of the schedule with five interleague games starting with Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday. The announced pitchers for Texas are Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday (7-6) on Tuesday and Matt Harrison (0-0) on Wednesday. Arizona will send out Robbie Ray (2-4) and Jeremy Helleckson (6-5). The Rangers and Diamondbacks split a pair of games in Phoenix earlier this season.

NOTABLE:

* Albert Pujols’ home run Sunday was his 25th this year. 2015 is the 14th season that Pujols has hit at least 25 home runs. He is just the 10th player in Major League history to hit at least 25 home runs in 14 seasons.

* On the Rangers’ injury front, Derek Holland threw his first bullpen session on Friday. There is no time table yet for his return, but he is expected to make at least four minor league rehab starts before returning to the active roster.

* Friday’s game was the mathematical halfway point of the season – game number 81.

* C. J. Wilson and Hector Santiago became the 13th and 14th left-handed starters that the Rangers have faced since June 1. Only one has failed to throw a quality start against the heavily left-handed Ranger offense.

* The Rangers have now lost six straight at home and 11 of their last 15 games in Arlington. Texas has a .405 winning percentage in the 37 games played at Globe Life Park this year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RANGERS TAKE THREE; STOP SERIES STREAK

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas took three of four games in Baltimore this week to end a series losing streak at three. The teams played home run derby in the first three games, and the Rangers scored late to shutout the Orioles 2-0 in the final game. Texas hit 10 home runs in the series, the most in any series since 2012. For the Rangers, the road portion of the schedule prior to the All-Star game is complete. They returned to Arlington after Thursday’s finale to play eight games against three teams before the break.

The Rangers got the series off to a powerful start with four home runs in the opening game. It was the second time this season that the Rangers have hit four home runs in a game. Mitch Moreland accounted for two of them to bring his season total to 12. Carlos Corporan and Sin-Soo Choo hit the other two round trippers. Notable in the 14 hit attack was Joey Gallo’s first Major League triple, which came with the bases loaded. Fielder finished the night 1-3 to end a streak of five consecutive multi-hit games, which tied his career high.

Wandy Rodriguez rebounded from a poor start with a fine performance. He was often in trouble as he allowed ten base runners in five innings (eight hits and two walks), but he was touched for just one run. Four relievers finished off the game – an inning apiece – and collectively gave Baltimore just one hit. Sam Freeman was especially impressive striking out the side in the ninth inning on 11 pitches.

8-1 was the final score. Rodriguez (5-3) was the winning pitcher, while Bud Norris (2-7) was tagged for the loss.

The Rangers had a similar offensive game plan in game two. Moreland, Choo and the catcher homered again, with Moreland again hitting a pair to take the team lead with 14. This time the catcher was Robinson Chirinos. They assured a split in the series by winning the game 8-6.

Colby Lewis started and had virtually nothing. Somehow he gutted out a quality start, giving up three earned runs on six hits in six innings. It was uglier than it sounds as he gave up three home runs and five runs total, but two of the runs were unearned as they resulted from a Rougned Odor error. Two of the home runs, each with a runner on base, were hit by former Ranger Chris Davis. Keone Kela, Tanner Scheppers and Shawn Tolleson each pitched an inning in relief. Tolleson gave up the Orioles sixth run in the ninth.

Lewis (8-3) was the winning pitcher and now leads the team in wins. Tolleson earned his 11th save in as many opportunities. Miguel Gonzalez (6-5) was Baltimore’s starting and losing pitcher.

Josh Hamilton was activated from the disabled list before the game and started in left field. He batted fifth and went 2-4. To make room on the roster, popular rookie Joey Gallo was sent to AAA Round Rock. Gallo played 25 games for the Rangers hitting .218 in 87 at bats. He had five home runs and 13 RBIs, but struck out 43 times. The stint in the Major Leagues will undoubtedly speed up his arrival for good in Arlington.

The Orioles came back with a left-handed starting pitcher in game three, always a problem for the left-handed oriented Ranger lineup. Choo and Ryan Rua hit home runs, but two runs was all the Rangers could muster, as they managed just two other hits. Texas lost 4-2.

Nick Martinez pitched into the seventh inning, allowing four runs, one of which was unearned. It was his 12th quality start which keeps him among the league leaders. He took the loss to even his record at 5-5. Wei-Yin Chen was the Orioles starting and winning pitcher. He also evened his record at 4-4 with eight solid innings. Zach Britton struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his 23rd save.

After combining for 15 home runs in the first three games, the two teams had difficulty cracking the scoreboard in Thursday’s finale. Yovani Gallardo extended his scoreless inning streak to 29-1/3 with six shutout innings, which is the fourth longest in Ranger history. He gave up two hits and walked three. He is now 6-0 with a 0.79 ERA in nine starts this season following a Rangers’ loss.

Kevin Gausman more than matched Gallardo for the Birds. He pitched into the seventh inning, shutting out Texas on four hits and two walks.

The game was still a 0-0 tie going to the ninth. Two unlikely Rangers hit run scoring singles in the top half – Rougned Odor and Leonys Martin, who has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Shawn Tolleson kept his save percentage perfect at 100% as he converted his 12th save in 12 opportunities. He needed just 12 pitches to retire the three Orioles he faced in the ninth inning.

Keone Kela finished the eighth inning to qualify for the win. He’s 5-5. Chaz Roe (2-1) took the loss for Baltimore.

Before the game, the Rangers sent Nick Martinez to AAA Round Rock and activated Neftalit Feliz from the disabled list. Texas is concerned about Martinez’s innings total, now at 97. He’ll pitch some innings for the Express, but he’s mainly there to rest. With two off days next week followed by the All-Star break, Martinez will miss just one start for Texas.

Also before the game, the Rangers announced that Matt Harrison will start either next Tuesday or Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. It will be his first start since early in the 2013 season, when back problems that led to multiple surgeries ended his season. Harrison wasn’t particularly effective in his minor league rehab starts, but the Rangers decided to give him a shot against Arizona.

Texas finished the road trip with four wins and three losses to run their road record to 26-20. That’s the most road wins of any team in baseball. They are in third place, one-half game behind second place Los Angeles and 5.5 games behind first place Houston.

The Rangers have now played 12 more road games than home games, so the schedule tilts to a multitude of home games. An eight game home stand begins this weekend with three games against division rival Los Angeles, with which the Rangers are neck and neck for second place. The Angels series is followed by five inter-league games with the Diamondbacks and Padres leading up to the All-Star break.

The announced starting pitchers for Texas in the Angels’ series are Alex Gonzalez (2-3) on Friday night. Gonzalez flew home before Thursday’s game in Baltimore to get a good night’s rest. He’ll be followed by Wandy Rodriguez (5-3) on Saturday night, and Colby Lewis (8-3) on Sunday. The Angels counter with Garrett Richards (8-5), Hector Santiago (4-4) and C. J. Wilson (6-6). Sunday’s game has a rare 6:05 PM start time.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers’ win in the series opener was their first in two seasons at Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

* Three of the Rangers six shortest games of the year came on this road trip. Wednesday’s game time in Baltimore was 2:18, second shortest of the year, and two of the game times last weekend in Toronto were 2:24 and 2:26.

* Martin Perez made his fourth rehab start Thursday night pitching for Round Rock against Iowa. He gave up three earned runs in four innings that required 72 pitches. He has perhaps two more starts in his minor league rehab assignment.

* Sin-Shoo Choo homered in the first three games of the series, becoming the first Ranger to homer in three consecutive games since the 2012 season.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment