THE BOOT TO HOUSTON

BY: Richard W, Humphrey

The Rangers outscored Houston 17-15 in the weekend series, but lost three of four games to the Astros, who claimed the Silver Boot trophy for the first time since 2006. The trophy is rotated annually to the winner of the season series each year. This year, Houston holds an 11-5 lead with the two teams facing each other in Arlington in the final week of the season. The Rangers blasted the Astros 13-6 on Friday night, but dropped the other three games by scores of 4-2, 2-0 and 3-2.

Friday’s rout was led by four rookies batting consecutively from seventh to first in the batting order – Tomas Telis, Rougned Odor, Michael Choice, and Daniel Robertson. They combined to go 8-18 with six runs scored and eight runs driven in. Included in the hits were Odor’s seventh home run and Choice’s ninth. Scott Baker was the starting and winning pitcher, evening his record at 3-3.

Robbie Ross turned in the most notable start in the series for the Rangers on Saturday. He had pitched for Round Rock on Thursday, but assured pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ron Washington that he could go. He completed five no-hit scoreless innings on 70 pitches, before they took him out. It was the third time this season in the Majors and the sixth time in Ranger history that a pitcher exited a game having thrown five or more hitless innings.

Ryan Rua made his Major League debut on Friday, becoming the 59th player to appear for the Rangers this season. He was in Friday’s starting lineup at first base and was 3-12 in the series. 59 players ties the Major League record for players used in a season. Derek Holland is scheduled to make his first appearance of the year as Tuesday’s starting pitcher in Kansas City to break the record. The September call-ups include three more players that have not appeared in a Ranger game this season, so the record of 59 players used in a season will not only be broken, but shattered.

The Rangers’ record fell to 53-83 as they are 30 games under .500 for the first time this season. They have been mathematically eliminated from winning the West Division. The series win went a long way toward Houston clinching fourth place in the division, as they hold a five game lead over Texas (four in the loss column), which has 26 games to play. Texas needs to win 10 of those 26 games to avoid a 100 loss season. The Rangers also held the distinction of having the worst record in baseball, as Colorado is one game better at 54-82.

The Astros have already won more games this year than they did in 2013. They appear to be a young team on the rise, but despite their success, General Manager Jeff Luhnow fired manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley on Monday. Tom Lawless (manager) and Adam Everett (bench coach) will serve in those positions on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. The Astros made it clear that special assistant Nolan Ryan would be involved in the managerial search.

Certainly Ryan brings considerable credibility to the organization. After joining the Rangers, he was instrumental in the hiring of pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach Jackie Moore, and hitting coach Clint Hurdle; three key members of the on field management team that got the Rangers to the 2010 World Series. With Ryan’s credibility and with the improved team, the Astros will undoubtedly have better candidates for the position than they had two years ago when Porter was hired.

The Rangers’ Mike Maddux was linked to a number of managerial jobs after the 2011 season, but declined for family considerations. His daughters have now graduated from high school, so Maddux no longer has family considerations to constrain him, and he could be a candidate.

The Rangers lost in Kansas City Monday night 4-3, and play two more to complete the current 10 game road trip. Derek Holland is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game for his 2014 debut, and Nick Tepesch (4-8) is Wednesday’s announced starting pitcher.

ROSTER MOVES: First baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion. Nick Tepesch was optioned to Round Rock. Robbie Ross was recalled from Round Rock. Derek Holland was activated from the 60-day disabled list, and Mike Carp was designated for assignment. Ryan Rua was called up from Round Rock. On Monday when the roster expanded, Tepesch was recalled from Round Rock, along with pitcher Lisavlerto Bonilla and Luis Sardinas. Left-handed pitcher Michael Kirkman’s contract was also purchased from Round Rock. A corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster will be made Tuesday. The likelihood is that Tanner Scheppers or Sin-Shoo Choo will be transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Relief pitcher Spencer Patton, who was obtained from Kansas City in the Jason Frasor trade, will be called up on Thursday.

NOTABLE:

* Joey Gallo hit his 21st home run as a Rough Rider in the team’s final game of the season. He fell one short of the Texas league lead. The 21 that he hit at high-A Myrtle Beach ended up leading the Carolina league. His 42 for the season is a new Ranger minor league record.

* The Rangers were 10-18 in August, which was better than Chicago (9-19) and Toronto (9-17). Sadly that’s the Rangers’ third most wins in any month this season. April at 15-12, is the Rangers only winning month in 2014.

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