EIGHT IS ENOUGH

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Detroit completed a three game sweep of Texas Thursday evening with a 6-0 whitewashing. The three losses ran the Rangers’ losing streak to eight games, the longest of the season and the longest since an eight game losing streak in 2005. The Rangers have now fallen 13 games out of first place in the American League West and hold just a two game lead over the last place Astros.

The series with the Tigers was the start of 20 consecutive games scheduled over 20 consecutive days, the most allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Players’ Association, leading up to the All-Star break. It also marked the return of two former Rangers from last year’s team – Ian Kinsler and Joe Nathan. The controversial Kinsler received a mixed, but generally positive reception from fans as he stepped to the plate in the first inning. His at bat was very familiar to Ranger fans. He deposited a ball into the left field seats, his ninth home run of the year to give Detroit an instant 1-0 lead.

That hit came off Colby Lewis, who went on to complete six innings for the first time this season. His pitch count at that point was a reasonable 84, and the game was tied 1-1, so Lewis started the seventh. Bad choice. Three of the first four Tigers he faced got hits, including a two run home run from J. D. Martinez; and all three ultimately scored. The Tigers kept on scoring after Lewis was lifted, racking up five runs in the inning. Kinsler drove home two more in the eighth inning, while the Rangers added one more run in the ninth inning to make the final score 8-2.

Lewis lost his quality start with his seventh inning performance and lost his fifth game of the year. He’s 5-5, after allowing four runs on nine hits over 6-1/3rd innings. Tigers’ lefty Travis Smyly (4-6) was the winning pitcher.

On Wednesday, the Tigers jumped on Rangers’ starting pitcher Joe Saunders for three first inning runs, and two more in the third inning. Saunders was out when Victor Martinez homered leading off the fifth inning. Saunders gave up six runs (five earned) on seven hits over four innings to take the loss. He’s now 0-4. Three relievers completed the game for Texas, with two of them allowing runs.

Texas rallied back to make the game close, getting within two at 7-5, and again with a ninth inning run that made the final score 8-6. It was just the fourth game this year in which the Rangers scored at least six runs and lost. Anibal Sanchez (5-2) was the Tigers’ starting and winning pitcher. Nathan pitched the ninth inning to earn his 16th save of the year.

The Tigers had no problems completing the sweep on Thursday. They scored in the second with a bases loaded walk. They added three more runs in the third on a pair of run scoring singles. A fourth inning sacrifice fly made the score 5-0. They added the final run in the eighth. 6-0 was the final score.

Detroit’s Rick Porcello (10-4) threw the complete game shutout, limiting the Rangers to three hits, all of which were singles. It was his first career shutout. Nick Martinez started for Texas and was knocked out in the third inning. He was charged with the loss to sink his record to 1-5.

The Rangers got bad starting pitching in the series with just one starter going five innings. The puny offense was punier than usual. The Rangers never held a lead at any time in the three games. They hit just one home run – a solo shot from Carlos Pena, who was activated for the series. They were 6-28 with runners in scoring position to manage just eight runs, most of which were scored in game two after the Tigers had amassed a big lead.

The home stand concludes this weekend with three games against Minnesota. This series will complete the Rangers’ play against the Twins this year. Texas took three of four from Minnesota at Target Field in May. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Nick Tepesch (3-4) on Friday, Yu Darvish (7-4) on Saturday, and Colby Lewis (5-5) on Sunday. Ranger fans are counting on Tepesch to end the losing streak. As far as they are concerned, eight is enough.

ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Rangers purchased the contract of Carlos Pena from Round Rock. Brad Snyder was designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man and 25-man active roster. When Pena played Tuesday night, he became the 42nd player to appear in a Ranger uniform this season, and the fifth to play first base. Pena was originally drafted by Texas and made his Major League debut with the Rangers in 2001. Snyder cleared waivers, but has not decided as to whether he will accept an assignment at AAA Round Rock or opt to be a free agent. Derek Holland is back in Arlington to workout with the team. He’s anxious to start a minor league rehab assignment, but the Rangers feel he is not yet 100%; so no start date has been scheduled. Outfielder Engel Beltre started his minor league rehab assignment this week. He has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season with a fractured right tibia.

NOTABLE:

* Adrian Beltre singled in his first at bat Tuesday night leading off the second inning to become the 97th player in Major League history to record 2,500 hits. He is the sixth player to reach 2,500 hits that primarily played third base. The other five include Hall of Famers George Brett, Wade Boggs, and Brooks Robinson. Chipper Jpnes, who is not yet eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and Buddy Bell are the other two.

* The Tigers won the season series four games to three.

* Two Ranger farm hands were named to play in this year’s All-Star Futures Game. Third Baseman Joey Gallo was named to the U. S. team, while catcher Jorge Alfaro was named to the World team.

* The Rangers are the only team in both leagues that has not had a rain delay this season.

* The Rangers staff ERA has slumped to 4.62, which is the highest in the American League and second highest in baseball, trailing only Colorado.

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