BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers dropped two in New York this weekend to finish the week with a 1-6 record and drop 17 games behind Oakland in the West. The last time the Rangers were as many as 17 games out of first place was the end of the 2007 season, when they finished 21 games behind. They are 12 games under .500, the most at any point in a season since the end of 2007, when they finished 75-87.
The lone win came on Saturday night when Colby Lewis was the starting pitcher. Lewis should receive serious consideration as the Rangers’ offensive player of the year. When he takes the mound, the offense scores runs, as the Rangers are averaging slightly more than five runs per game in his starts. On Saturday, the Rangers’ offense provided five runs again, as Texas pushed across four runs in the first inning with the big blow being a three run home run from Robinson Chirinos. Adrian Beltre hit his 11th of the season in the third inning to complete the Rangers’ scoring for the night at five.
Five proved to be enough as Lewis completed six innings for the third consecutive start. It was also his second consecutive quality start, after having no quality starts in his first 13 outings. He allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on eight hits. He struck out seven as his record improved to 6-5, despite his unsightly 5.51 ERA. Neal Cotts, Shawn Tolleson and Joakim Soria each pitched an inning in relief to finalize the win at 5-3. Soria was credited with his 16th save of the year.
In the other two games, the Mets took charge early with crooked numbers in the first inning. On Friday, that crooked number was a three to give the Amazins a 3-1 lead. Texas actually came back to tie the game at four in the seventh inning, but Mets’ catcher Travis d’Amaud doubled home two eighth inning runs to break the tie. The Rangers’ ninth inning rally fell a run short. 6-5 was the final score.
Yu Darvish was the starting pitcher, and he admitted afterward that the windy conditions bothered him. After giving up a run scoring double followed by a home run in the first inning, he stiffened, allowing just one more run in the fourth. He came out in the sixth inning for a pinch hitter, which limited his pitch count for the night to 94. All four runs were earned. The Mets tagged him for five hits, and he struck out seven in five innings.
Neftali Feliz followed Darvish to the mound, making his 2014 Ranger debut. He kept the Rangers in the game with two scoreless innings, walking two and striking out two. Aaron Poreda and Jason Frasor each gave up an eighth inning run. Poreda (2-1) took the 6-4 loss.
On Sunday, the Mets really took charge early with five first inning runs. Starting pitcher Nick Tepesch surrendered all five runs after retiring two of the first three batters. From there, he allowed three hits and a walk, the big blow being an Anthony Recker home run with two runners aboard to make the score 5-0. Tepesch finished six innings allowing one more Mets’ run.
However, the Rangers’ offense wasn’t having any luck with Mets’ starter Zach Wheeler. Wheeler pitched into the seventh inning allowing six hits, but just one tally on a Chirinos home run, his ninth. Five Mets relievers finished the game, allowing three runs along the way. 8-4 was the final score. Wheeler (4-8) was the winning pitcher, while Tepesch’s record fell to 3-4.
The Rangers are back in town for seven home games leading up to the All-Star break. Houston is on tap for the first three. The announced starting pitchers are Miles Mikolas (0-0) on Monday, Nick Martinez (1-6) on Tuesday, and Yu Darvish (8-4) on Wednesday. Actually, there is some doubt about Martinez on Tuesday. He could be replaced by Round Rock’s Phil Irwin.
ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Neftali Feliz was activated on Friday, and Ben Rowen was optioned to Round Rock to make room for Feliz.
* Adrian Beltre and Yu Darvish were named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday night. Darvish is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday this week, so likely will see action in the All-Star game.
* The Rangers are now 4-8 all time against the Mets and are 6-9 verses National League teams this season.
* Colby Lewis was 1-3 at the plate Saturday to extend his hitting streak to four games, which ties him for the longest hitting streak ever by a Texas pitcher. Mike Paul in 1972 also had a four game hitting streak in the days before the designated hitter. Lewis is a career .280 hitter (7-25).