BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Prince Fielder didn’t play an inning in the field or take one at bat, but Texas scored 35 runs in four games to beat the Tigers three times this weekend to pull back even at .500 for the season with a 25-25 record. Taking three of four from Detroit jumped the Rangers into third place in the West one-half game ahead of Seattle. They cut the deficit with the first place Athletics to five games, after the A’s lost four straight over the weekend.
On Sunday, the top of the batting order did the damage with the starters going 11-23, scoring nine runs and driving in nine in a 12-4 romp. On Saturday, it was the bottom five in the batting order that went 12-26, scoring nine runs and driving in nine in another 12-2 shellacking. In short it was a team effort up and down the batting order to win the two games.
The starting pitchers Colby Lewis (4-3) on Sunday and Nick Martinez (1-1) on Saturday were the recipients of the Rangers’ offensive largesse. It was Martinez’s first Major League win in his ninth appearance (four starts and five relief appearances), and his ERA dropped to 2.14.
Rookie second baseman, Rougned Odor, had a career day on Saturday, going 4-5 with five RBIs and a run scored. Three of the four hits went for extra bases – a double and two triples. Odor is the youngest player in the Major Leagues (20 years and 111 days on Sunday) and is with the club because of injuries to Jurickson Profar and Donnie Murphy, not to mention Josh Wilson’s ineptitude. He’s taking giant steps towards staying in Arlington for a long time. He finished the series with a .300 batting average in 40 at bats after 13 games, with three runs scored and seven RBIs. He’s pretty darn good defensively at second base too.
The series began with an afternoon game on Thursday. On paper, it was the game the Rangers HAD to win, as ace Yu Darvish was paired against rookie Robert Ray. The Tigers surprisingly did not make a roster move to shore their bullpen prior to the game as they had used six pitchers a day earlier in a 13 inning game in Cleveland.
Ray pitched a scoreless first inning, then his day went downhill. He retired just 10 batters and gave up 13 base runners – nine hits and four walks. Seven of them scored. He would have come out sooner had the bullpen been rested. As it was, the pen had to pitch the final 5-2/3rds innings, actually just 4-2/3rds as shortstop Daniel Worth pitched the ninth inning to spare the pen. Worth, who surprising threw knuckleballs on all but one pitch, retired three of the four batters he faced. Chris Gimenez hit the only fastball Worth threw for a single. Michael Choice and Leonys Martin will definitely hear about the ninth inning in the Rangers’ Kangaroo Court, as they were Worth’s two strikeout victims.
The Rangers got on the scoreboard with a pair of second inning runs. Adrian Beltre walked and scored on Alex Rios’ double. Gimenez later singled Rios home. They followed that with a three run third inning. Beltre drove home two and Mitch Moreland scored on a fielding error. Texas essentially put the game away in the fourth with four more runs. Sin-Shoo Choo hit his sixth home run to drive in the first two of the inning. That chased Ray from the mound and out of Detroit, as he was reassigned after the game. Michael Choice singled home two more before the Tigers retired the side.
Darvish was again spectacular. He completed seven innings on 106 pitches, allowing two sixth inning runs on six hits. His record improved to 4-2, 2.35, as he tied Martin Perez for the club lead in wins. Run support for Darvish is either the best of times or the worst of times. The Rangers scored just 11 runs total in the five games he started in April They have now scored 31 in the four games Darvish has started in May. Unfortunately, he’s just 3-1 for the month as the Rangers were shutout in one of those starts.
During the game, Daniel Robertson and Alex Rios collided chasing a fly ball in right center. Robertson had to leave the game. The injury news got really serious after the game though as the Rangers announced that Prince Fielder, pending a second opinion, was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday for a herniated disk in his neck, surgery that likely ends Fielder’s season. Also, Jurickson Profar has been shut down in his throwing program and will be out at least another 10-12 weeks with a strained arm, which is almost season ending.
Scott Baker became the Rangers 10th starting pitcher this season when he started game two, the only night game of the series. Mitch Moreland doubled home a pair of runs in the second inning to stake Baker to a lead. It didn’t last long. Three batters into the bottom half of the inning, Denton native Austin Jackson homered with Victor Martinez on base to tie the game. Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera doubled to open the Tigers’ third inning, giving them a 3-2 lead.
That was all the runs Anabel Sanchez needed, but the Tigers added two more runs in the fifth, and singletons in the sixth and seventh to ease the load. Sanchez completed seven innings allowing the two runs on five hits. He struck out five, walked none, and improved to 2-2, 2.83 for the year. Two relievers retired six of eight Ranger hitters to end the game with 7-2 as the final score.
Baker took the loss and lost his spot in the starting rotation, as the Rangers announced a day later that Joe Saunders would take the rotation slot next Wednesday. Baker gave up six runs on eight hits, four of which went for extra bases. Baker is 0-1, 6.35. Alexi Ogando pitched the last two innings, giving up a run that actually REDUCED his ERA to 6.65.
The Rangers’ injured list extended to the broadcast booths this weekend. Eric Nadel, scheduled to join the Hall of Fame later this summer, left the team on Sunday to take care of personal matters. ESPN.com’s Richard Durrett sat in for Nadel on Sunday. Pre-game and post-game host Mike Peasley joined the team on Monday to take Nadel’s place until he returns. Also, in the television booth, Tom Grieve is scheduled to lighten his load by 25 games this year. He is not on this 11 game road trip, replaced in the TV booth by Mark McLemore.
The longest road trip of the year continues with four games in Minnesota. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Nick Tepesch (1-0) on Monday, Yu Darvish (4-2) on Tuesday, Joe Saunders (0-1) on Wednesday, and Nick Martinez (1-1) on Thursday. Monday’s and Thursday’s games are day games, while Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are night games. ,
INJURIES: Sin-Shoo Choo is still bothered by the ankle sprain incurred earlier this month. He came out of Saturday’s game early when the Rangers built a big lead and was in Sunday’s lineup as the designated hitter.
* On Saturday, the Rangers set season highs for hits (19), total bases (33) and extra base hits (eight).