TORONTO TAKES A PAIR

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Sunday afternoon in Toronto, the Rangers dropped the rubber game of their three game series with the Blue Jays by the score of 9-6. It was the 10th time the Rangers have gone to the final game of a three game series tied 1-1, and they have lost the rubber match seven times. This was the final meeting of the year between these two teams, and Toronto won the season series four games to two. The Rangers have gone 2-11-1 in their last 14 series.

Nick Tepexch was the Rangers starter, and he was hit hard. After completing a scoreless first inning, he gave up three runs in the second and another in the third. He retired the side in order in the fourth inning, but Toronto tagged him for another run in the fifth. He lasted 4-1/3 innings allowing five earned runs. 11 of the 24 batters he faced reached base on nine hits and two walks.

Texas trailed 5-2 after five but came back with three runs in the sixth to tie the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, a balk and single plated the thee runs. That took Tepesch off the hook for the loss. However, Melky Cabrera homered off Neftali Feliz in the seventh to break the tie. Matt West sealed the deal for the Jays when he gave up three more runs in the eighth. Texas rallied in the ninth, but managed just one run and left two men on base.

Feliz (0-1) took the loss. Todd Redmond (1-4) was the Jays’ winning pitcher in relief, and Aaron Loup earned his fourth save by retiring the final batter.

The Rangers ended their eight game losing streak on Friday night in game one of the second half. Yu Darvish (9-5) pitched 6-2/3rds innings of one run ball, and the Rangers supported him with five runs, four of which scored on home runs. Former Ranger and Cy Young Award winner, R. A. Dickey, started for Toronto and was tough. The Rangers finally cracked the scoreboard when Adrian Beltre opened the fifth inning with a home run. After J. P. Arencibia was hit by a pitch, Rougned Odor tripled him home for a 2-0 lead. Arencibia extended the lead to 5-0 with a three runs home run in the seventh inning, his second of the year. Cody Rasmus led off Toronto’s seventh inning with a home run to break up Darvish’s shutout bid. Still Darvish recorded 12 strikeouts on the ninth, his 26th career game with a double digit strikeout total.

Toronto came back to win 4-1 on Saturday behind a strong pitching performance from Marcus Stroman. Stroman (5-2) threw seven shutout innings at the Rangers getting touched for just four hits, all singles. He struck out five and walked no one.

Colby Lewis (6-7) struggled on the field but turned in good results. The on the mound struggles ran up his pitch count to limit his outing to five innings, but he allowed just a pair of runs in the fourth inning. 11 of the 25 batters Lewis faced (eight hits and three walks) reached base, so he was fortunate to hold Toronto to just two runs. Ryan Feierabend was charged with the other two runs, both of which scored in the seventh. Texas nicked reliever Brett Cecil for their only tally of the game in the eighth inning.

The losses in Toronto maintained the Rangers’ claim to the worst record in baseball. They have just two wins in July and are now 20 games under .500 at 39-59. That’s a pace for 64 wins on the season. When Oakland beat Baltimore later in the afternoon, Texas fell to 22 games out of first place. Both Oakland and Los Angeles will likely have more wins by the end of July than the Rangers will have at season’s end.

The seven game road trip concludes with four games in New York against the Yankees. Texas will face the Yankees in seven of the next 10 games. The announced pitchers for the series are Miles Mikolas (0-2) on Monday, Nick Martinez (1-6) on Tuesday Yu Darvish (9-5) Wednesday and Colby Lewis (6-7) in Thursday’s finale.

ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Geovany Soto was activated for the series and became the 51st player to appear in a game this season for the Rangers. He took Jason Frasor’s roster spot, as Frasor was traded to Kansas City for reliever Spencer Patton, who was assigned to AAA Round Rock. J. P. Arencibia was recalled from Round Rock. Arencibia is known as a catcher, but has been working at first base, where he played 20 games before being recalled to Arlington. Carlos Pena was designated for assignment to make room for Arencibia on the active roster. Pena cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Round Rock.

Texas announced that Nick Martinez would be activated from the disabled list to start Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Joseph Ortiz, who has been on the disabled list for the entire season, began a minor league rehab assignment with the Rookie League Arizona Rangers. Jim Adduci is on a minor league rehab assignment, and he could be activated for this week’s New York series. Sin-Shoo Choo is still nursing an ankle injury. He did not start Sunday, though he later pinch hit, and he was the designated hitter in the first two games of the series.

TRADE RUMORS: The trade of Jason Frasor to Kansas City this week is likely the start of a number of Ranger trades. Literally every team in a pennant race is seeking bullpen help, so Neal Cotts is also likely to be wearing a different uniform by August. Frasor and Cotts will be free agents after the season and could be re-signed by the Rangers for next year. There are also strong suggestions that Detroit and Texas are seriously talking about a deal that would move Joakim Soria to the Tigers. Tiger closer Joe Nathan struggled again Saturday as the Tigers dropped a double header, undoubtedly heightening Detroit’s interest in Soria.

NOTABLE:

* Adrian Beltre played his 2,283rd game at third base on Friday night to move into third place on the all time list of games played at third base. He broke the tie with Gary Gaetti. Graig Nettles (2,412) is second on that list, and Brooks Robinson (2,870) is first.

* First base coach Benji Molina was not in Toronto for the series for personal reasons. He is scheduled to re-join the team in New York for the balance of the road trip.

* The Rangers accomplished the rare feat of striking out four times in an inning Saturday. Adrian Beltre is the batter that reached first on a passed ball after his strikeout. It was the fourth time to occur in Ranger history, all in the 21st century; and the first time four batters struck out in an inning in a Major League game in more than a year.

* Roman Mendez retired all four batters he faced on Saturday and is now unscored upon in his first four Major League appearances.

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