ROLLING ROYALS TAKE TWO

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas beat the hot Kansas City Royals Sunday 3-1 to avoid a sweep of the series. The Royals are on a serious roll, having won 24 of their last 31 games to take over first place in the Central Division, two full games over Detroit. Sunday’s win was the 50th win of the season for Texas, which has the worst record in baseball, two games behind Colorado.

In Friday’s series opener, the Rangers scored first on a single, double, ground out in the first inning. The lead didn’t last long though. Colby Lewis had breezed through a 1-2-3 first inning, but he wasn’t fooling anybody in the second. Billy Butler tied the game with a lead-off home run. After a ground out, Lewis hit the next batter and surrendered singles to the next three. That pushed across two more runs to give the Royals a 3-1 lead.

Lewis pitched well after the second. He completed six innings allowing one more run on a Josh Willingham home run leading off the fourth inning. He struck out just two, but walked no one. He took the loss to drop to 8-11 for the year.

Royals fireballer Yordano Ventura started and earned the win for K. C. He also completed six innings, but he allowed just the first inning run. He got the win, his 10th against nine losses.

Kansas City scored a run off Phil Klein in the seventh and another unearned run off Jon Edwards in the ninth inning. Texas came back to score two seventh inning runs off Royals’ reliever Francisley Bueno, but that was as close as they got. 6-3 was the final score. Greg Holland racked up his 40th save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.

On Saturday night, the game began 20 minutes late for the induction ceremony of Tom Schieffer, former club President, into the Rangers Hall of Fame. Schieffer was instrumental in the construction of the ballpark, and has gone on to be the U. S. Ambassador to Australia and Japan since leaving the Rangers.

Both teams got a solo home run in the first inning. Alex Gordon hit his 15th for Kansas City and Sin-Shoo Choo hit number 13 for Texas. The game stayed tied at one until the fifth inning, when three Nick Tepesch walks led to three Kansas City runs. The Royals added two more in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning. Leonys Martin singled home a pair of ninth inning runs to make the final score 6-3.

Tepesch took the loss to fall to 4-8. Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight innings of five hit ball for the win to improve to 10-10.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers had a multitude of scoring opportunities early, but cashed in for just three runs, one in each of the first three innings. That however proved to be enough. Scott Baker came out of the bullpen to make his fifth start of the season. He gave up a solo home run to Billy Butler over five innings. Shawn Tolleson, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz finished the final four innings allowing one hit and retiring the other 12 batters they faced to take the series finale 3-1. Baker won for the second time against two losses, but it was his first win as a starting pitcher. Feliz earned save number six.

Saturday’s loss plunged the Rangers 30 games under .500, which was not only a season high, but the first time they were 30 games under since the end of the 1985 season, when they finished 37 games under .500. Texas is 11-23 since the All-Star break with Sunday’s win, which was the Rangers’ seventh in August, one more than in July.

This week, the Rangers return to the road and return to division play. In fact, the only six remaining games that are not against divisional opponents are a three game series in Kansas City to start September, and a three game inter-league series against the Braves over the weekend of September 12, 13 and 14. They open up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle, followed by four games in Houston next weekend. The announced starting pitchers for the Seattle series are Miles Mikolas (1-5) Monday night, Nick Martinez (3-9) on Tuesday night, and Colby Lewis (8-11) in Wednesday’s matinee.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Derek Holland was scheduled to make his final minor league rehab start Sunday pitching for Round Rock in Las Vegas, but was scratched due to back spasms and re-scheduled for Thursday. He is expected to be activated from the disabled list on September 1. Yu Darvish is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. He is eligible to be activated on Monday, but likely will not be. He actually may not pitch again this season. Geovany Soto was traded to Oakland during Sunday’s game for cash considerations. Tomas Telis will be called up from Round Rock on Monday to take Soto’s roster spot. Sin-Soo Choo was not in Sunday’s lineup as he was reportedly “under the weather”.

NOTABLE:

* Friday Night’s game was played on the 25th anniversary of the night that Nolan Ryan struck out his 5,000th batter (Ricky Henderson). Ryan is still the only pitcher in baseball history to strike out 5,000 batters. The Rangers gave away Nolan Ryan replica jerseys to fans Friday night.

* Jim Adduci hit his first Major League home run on August 9 against Houston, but did not get another one until a single on Saturday, going 0-26 in between.

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