BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers limped out of Cleveland Sunday evening having lost two of three with the afternoon’s 4-2 loss to the Indians. Texas has now lost three consecutive series, each time winning one and losing two games, and have lost six of their last nine games. Once again the offense sputtered as Adrian Beltre did not start for the fifth straight game. Texas is 1-4 in those games, and the lone win came on Beltre’s pinch hit three-run home run in the 11th inning Saturday night against the Indians.

Yu Darvish started Sunday’s rubber match of the series, and for the first time in his career, he took the loss. Darvish battled with less than his “A” stuff. He did not have good command of his fastball and threw too many balls. He was out of the game after six innings, having thrown 112 pitches, 63 (56%) of which were strikes. He gave up all four runs in six innings, though one was unearned, such that Sunday’s outing qualifies as a quality start, his third consecutive. He is now 4-1, 2.54.

Part of the reason for the lack of concern over the team’s performance in the last 10 days is the relatively huge lead built up in April. The Rangers’ 18-10 record is no longer the best in baseball or even the American League, but it’s good enough to maintain a 3.5 game edge over the surprising Oakland A’s, the only other team in the division over .500. Seattle and Los Angeles bring up the rear, trailing by 6.0 and 6.5 games respectively.

The best record in the American League is now held by the even more surprising Baltimore Orioles (19-9). The “Fighting Showalters” just swept the Red Sox in a three game series in Boston this weekend. Sunday afternoon’s game was and by the end of the season may still be the most bizarre game of the year. It lasted 17 innings, and the winning pitcher for the Showalters was former Ranger Chris Davis, a first baseman, who started the game as the Orioles’ DH. He pitched the last two innings, giving up two hits, walking no one, and striking out two. His fastball was clocked at 92 miles per hour. Adam Jones blasted a three run home run in the top of the 17th to break the 6-6 tie and give the Orioles the win after Davis shut down the Red Sox in the bottom of the 17th. Besides being the winning pitcher, Davis was 0-8 at the plate with five strikeouts.

Boston’s losing pitcher was Darnell McDonald, also a position player, who like Davis started the game at designated hitter. The game took 6:07 to play, the longest regular season game in Fenway Park history. It was Davis’s major league pitching debut, but McDonald had previously pitched in an emergency situation last year.

Texas now moves on to Baltimore to face the red hot Showalters in a four-game series beginning Monday night in Camden Yards. (Okay, the “real” name is Orioles Park at Camden Yards, and aren’t we all glad that they haven’t sold the naming rights to this iconic park to an airline, bank or cellular provider.) Baltimore has not only former Ranger manager Buck Showalter in the dugout and former Ranger 1B Chris Davis, but former Ranger pitchers Tommy Hunter in their starting rotation, and relievers Darren O’Day and Pedro Strop. Hunter started Sunday’s marathon game in Boston, so will not face the Rangers in this series. The pitching matchups are:

Monday Matt Harrison (3-2, 5.40) vs. Brian Matusz (1-3, 4.67)
Tuesday Neftali Feliz (1-1, 3.81) vs. Jake Arrieta (2-2, 3.52)
Wednesday Colby Lewis (3-1, 2.97) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 2.76)
Thursday Derek Holland (2-2, 4.43) vs. Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.09

All four games begin at 6:05 CDT.

NOTEWORTHY: Elvis Andrus was 1-2 Sunday afternoon (with two walks) and has now played 26 games against the Indians with at least one hit in each game. He currently has a six-game hitting streak. He has also reached base in 24 consecutive games, the third longest streak in the majors this year….Mitch Moreland was 1-3 Sunday and has now hit in eight straight games he has started and nine of the last 10 he has played, The streak has raised his batting average from .139 to .279.

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