BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Sunday afternoon, Yu Darvish pitched his fifth straight masterful game trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of Cleveland. He gave up a run scoring double to his former teammate David Murphy among the four hits he allowed over seven innings. He struck out eight batters and looked good for the win going to the bottom of the ninth as Texas maintained a 3-1 lead. It was not to be for Darvish or the Rangers. New closer Neftali Feliz blew the save in the ninth inning when he gave up a game tying two-run home run to Murphy, and Phil Klein (0-1), the sixth Ranger pitcher of the game, took the loss when the first batter he faced in the 12th inning, Michael Brantley, homered for the 4-3 Cleveland win. Scott Atchison (5-0), a former TCU Horned Frog and Cleveland’s seventh pitcher on the day, was credited with the win.
The Rangers scored in the first with Alex Rios driving in the run. They added two more in the second on a pair of sacrifice flies from Rougned Odor and Sin-Shoo Choo. That was it for the Rangers’ offense on the day, as they mustered just one extra base hit among the seven they got in the game and failed to score in their final 10 at bats.
The series opened with the Indians putting a 12-2 whipping on the Rangers. Jerome Williams, who had pitched extremely well in his first start, wasn’t fooling anybody. He gave up 10 runs on 13 hits in four innings. He faced 26 batters, and 16 of them reached base with a hit or walk. That’s a .615 on base percentage. It was the ninth time in Ranger history that a pitcher has allowed a double digit run total.
Williams can look marvelous at times, as he did last weekend when he beat the Athletics in his first start, but his problem is consistency. With Nick Tepesch recovering from a sore left knee, Williams may have made his last start for Texas. Tepesch is likely to be the starting pitcher next Wednesday when the rotation slot comes up again.
Former Ranger David Murphy had a big night for the Tribe. He was 4-4 with a double, two runs scored and two runs driven in. Cleveland scored in five of the first six innings and essentially put the game away in the fifth when they scored six runs to run their lead to 11-1. Williams (2-5 overall and 1-1 with Texas) took the loss, while Danny Salazar (4-4) was Cleveland’s starting and winning pitcher.
On Saturday, Miles Mikolas continued his tryout for the 2015 starting rotation and turned in his best outing to date. He blanked the Tribe over the first six innings, and then gave up a pair of runs in the seventh on a bloop single and a poorly executed pitch. Mikolas (1-4) took the loss though, as the pathetic Ranger offense was shut out for the sixth time this season. Both teams garnered five hits in the game, and all 10 hits were singles. Texas however, failed to score as they were 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
The three losses dropped Texas 24.5 games out of first place and 3.5 games behind Houston for fourth place in the division. They are 25 games under .500 at 43-68, which is still the worst record in baseball, one game worse than Colorado. Offensively, they scored just five runs in the series, and two outstanding starting pitching performances resulted in losses as this team simply can not score runs.
The Rangers flew to Chicago after Sunday’s game to play a three game series with the White Sox beginning Monday. The announced pitchers for the series are Nick Martinez (1-7) on Monday, Colby Lewis (7-8) on Tuesday and TBA in Wednesday afternoon’s finale, though Nick Tepesch is the likely starter.
INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Reliever Phil Klein joined the team Friday and Ryan Feierabend was designated for assignment. Klein had an amazing skein of 32 consecutive appearances in which he did not give up a run. In fact, he had not allowed an extra base hit all year. That changed quickly when he entered Friday’s game, as he gave up a home run to Lonnie Chisenhall in his one inning debut. Derek Holland is scheduled to make his second minor league rehab start Monday night for Round Rock. The Rangers were awarded outfielder Mike Carp on a waiver claim Sunday. Alexi Ogando was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Carp on the 40-man roster.
* Phil Klein became the 33rd player to pitch for Texas this season, re-setting the team record for pitchers used in a season. He was also the 54th player to appear in a Ranger game this year, one short of the Ranger record.
* Adrian Beltre was selected as the Rangers’ Player of the Month for July. He hit .301 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He has now won the award eight times, including seven of the last 12, which is the most times any Ranger has won the award since it began in 1998.
* Sunday’s game was the final game between Texas and Cleveland this season. The Tribe won the season series six games to one.
* Elvis Andrus has at least one hit in all 25 career games he has played at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, and has hit safely in all but one of the 44 career games he has played against Cleveland.