BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Hard hitting Colorado rocked the Rangers in a pair of games to start the week. Colorado won 8-2 on Monday and 12-1 on Tuesday. Not only did they outscore Texas 20-3, but they outhit the Rangers 34-17. It was the second sweep of the season Texas has suffered, and it completed the road trip with a 2-3 record. Texas has now lost seven of the last nine games, falling to 17-16 for the year.
On Monday night, the Rockies plastered Texas with three two-run home runs en route to an 8-2 win. Martin Perez came into the game having not surrendered a home run for 45 consecutive innings dating back to last season, but added just one more to the total before Nolan Arenado blasted the first of the three round trippers in the second inning.
Troy Tulowitzki, the reigning National League Player of the Month for April and Player of the Week for the week ended May 5, blasted the first of his two bombs in the fifth inning. Tulowitzki capped off the night with his second two-run round tripper in the seventh inning off Shawn Tolleson. Colorado also scored single runs in the third and eighth innings.
The Rangers pushed across one run in the sixth on a Josh Wilson groundout that scored Sin-Shoo Choo from third. Mitch Moreland singled home Adrian Beltre from second in the ninth for the other Texas run.
It was a disappointing offensive performance as the Rockies’ starting pitcher was Jordan Lyles, who had struggled in the past against Texas. He had previously made six starts against the Rangers, all as a member of the Houston Astros. His record in those games was 0-5, with a 9.82 ERA. Lyles limited Texas to seven hits and the two runs over eight innings. He struck out five and walked one. Lyles improved to 4-0 for the season with the win. Former Ranger Nick Masset, who the Rockies called up from AAA Colorado Springs earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless ninth innings
Perez took the loss, his second in a row after winning four games to start the season. He pitched at an All-Star level in his first five starts, but has been hit hard in his last two. He completed just five innings, giving up seven hits and three walks to the 25 batters he faced. Five of the hits went for extra bases – three doubles and two home runs.
On Tuesday, Robbie Ross, like Perez, suffered through a second consecutive disappointing start. He gave up six runs, all earned, on 12 hits over 5-1/3rd innings. He has now given up 23 hits in 8-2/3rds innings in his last two starts. His record fell to 1-3 with the loss, and his ERA rose to 4.74.
Adrian Beltre connected for his first home run of the season in the first inning. That was it for the Rangers’ scoring on the night. Juan Nicasio was the starting and winning pitcher for Colorado. He struggled through five innings with control problems, walking five and needing 88 pitches to qualify for the win; but the Beltre home run was all the scoring he allowed. He improved to 4-1 on the season, and his ERA dropped to 3.89.
The 12 runs tied Colorado’s season high, but 21 hits are the most in any game this year. The situation was so dire for the beleaguered Texas bullpen that manager Ron Washington sent first baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland out to pitch the eighth inning. He recorded a three up three down inning on 15 pitches. Moreland was the closer at Mississippi State, but had made just one minor league appearance on the mound in his professional career.
With the gaudy offensive numbers Colorado put on the board, there were obviously contributions from a lot of players. However, Troy Tulowitzki was truly remarkable in this series in what is so far a truly remarkable season for the Rockies’ shortstop. He had five hits in seven official at bats against the Rangers, with two home runs and a double among the five hits. He drove in five runs and scored four. He now has 14 multi-hit games and leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.421) and on base percentage (.522).
Texas lost no ground to Oakland in the West, as the A’s lost twice to Seattle to start the week. However, the two wins thrust Seattle percentage points ahead of the Rangers for second place. Both trail the A’s by two games. Los Angeles split two games with the Yankees to start the week to pull within one-half game of Seattle and Texas.
The Rangers and Rockies square off for two more games in Arlington on Wednesday and Thursday. Colby Lewis (2-1) starts Wednesday, and Matt Harrson (0-0) is Thursday’s starting pitcher for Texas.
INJURY UPDATES: Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff underwent surgery for a herniated disk on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He is expected to be sidelined from eight to 12 weeks. Relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers and second baseman Jurickson Profar were both cleared to begin throwing routines on Tuesday. Finally, Joe Saunders made his first minor league rehab start Tuesday for AA Frisco. He completed four innings with 66 pitches, 44 of which were strikes. He allowed three runs total, only two of which were earned. Two of the four hits he gave up were home runs. He walked one, hit a batter and struck out four. After the game, he told the media that he is not interested in returning to the Rangers’ active roster as a long reliever, indicating that he was signed to be a starting pitcher and intended to be one.
* Sin-Shoo Choo went 11-15 with six walks and also reached base once when hit by a pitch for an .818 on base percentage on the road trip.
* Texas is now 2-3 for the year in Inter-League play.
* Texas has now scored 138 runs on the season, a pace of 677 for the season. They scored 730 last year. The Rangers have allowed 165 runs to their opponents, a run differential of -27.
* The last pitching appearance for a Ranger position player was last season when David Murphy pitched against the Red Sox.