BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas completed a three game sweep of Oakland Thursday afternoon with a 7-2 victory over the Athletics. It was their second consecutive three game sweep to extend their season high winning streak to six games, which is also the longest current winning streak in the Major Leagues. Last weekend, the Rangers dealt the Braves playoff chances a deadly blow by taking three; and this week, the Ranger wins helped eliminate Oakland from the A. L. West championship. The A’s go into this weekend holding the second Wild Card berth trailing Kansas City by 1/2 game and leading Seattle by 1-1/2 games. They have all but folded the tent with a 5-11 record in September.
Texas scored 19 runs in the series – six in each of the first two games to go along with Thursday’s seven spot. The most dramatic win came Wednesday night when the A’s took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning and sent their closer Sean Doolittle to finish the game. The Ranger bats had been quiet all evening, as they managed just four hits in eight innings off Athletics’ starter Jeff Samardzija. However, they erupted for six runs in the top of the ninth, and three outs later, the American League West champion was Los Angeles. Rougned Odor doubled home the tying run with one out. Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked to set up a potential inning ending double play, but J. P. Arencbia foiled the A’s strategy. He homered to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. The Rangers continued to rally for two more runs to put the game out of Oakland’s reach.
The surprising rally made Robbie Ross, Jr. the winning pitcher, improving his record to 3-6. Doolittle was charged with his fourth blown save and fourth loss of the year. His record is now 1-4.
Thursday’s blowout win was predictable after Oakland suffered Wednesday’s gut wrenching loss. Starting pitcher Nick Martinez was treated to a four run lead before he took the mound. Martinez retired the first six batters before running into trouble in the third inning. He gave up two runs, cutting the Ranger lead to 4-2. However, the Ranger hitters answered with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. They banged out 15 hits on the day, making a winner out of Martinez, who is now 4-11. 14 of the hits were singles and five different Ranger hitters had multi-hit games, including a four-hit day from Jake Smolenski. Oakland’s Sonny Gray, considered the A’s staff ace earlier this year, started and took the loss to fall to 13-9.
The series opened with the Rangers supporting starting pitcher Nick Tepesch with three runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings. The Rangers never trailed as Tepesch completed six innings allowing three runs on five hits. He’s 5-10 after being credited with the win in the 6-3 game. Three relievers kept the A’s off the scoreboard including Neftali Feliz, who pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his 10th save.
In another Ranger story, Ron Washington met the press Thursday afternoon in a Los Colinas hotel to explain the reason for his resignation as manager of the Rangers. He said that he was not true to his wife Gerry after 42 years of marriage with the implication that his resignation was to work on restoring the relationship. He hopes to be back in baseball soon. He did not take questions from the media after stating his case.
The six game winning streak all but assures the Rangers will avoid a 100 loss season. Their record is now 60-92, so they need just three wins in the final 10 games. The winning streak has endangered the Rangers’ clamp on the worst record in baseball and the number one pick in next June’s Amateur Draft. They are 1.5 games ahead of Colorado and Arizona in the reverse standings for the dubious honor.
The Rangers conclude the road portion of their schedule this weekend in Anaheim with three games against the Angels. Texas is just 3-13 against Los Angeles this season. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Lisalverto Bonilla (1-0) on Friday night, Colby Lewis (10-13) on Saturday, and Nick Tepesch (5-10) on Sunday afternoon.
INJURIES: It was announced this week that Sin-Shoo Choo underwent a second operation to remove a bone spur and cartilage in his ankle. He earlier underwent an operation to remove bone spurs in his left (throwing) elbow.
* The Rangers record is 24-18 (.571) in day games. They actually lead the season series with Oakland with eight wins and seven losses. The teams face each other four more times in Arlington next weekend to end the season. The consecutive series sweeps are the second and third of the year for the Rangers, as they swept a three game series with the A’s in April in Oakland.
* Derek Holland was the starting pitcher Wednesday night, allowing a run on three hits and three walks over 6.2 innings, which brings his ERA to 0.99 for the year. He is 1-0 in four starts, and the Rangers are 3-1 in those games.
* Neftali Feliz became the second Ranger to post a double digit save total this season joining Joakim Soria, who earned 17 prior to being traded to the Tigers. It is the first time since 2009 that the Rangers have had more than one reliever record a double digit save total.
* The Rangers have hit 10 home runs this season with more than one runner on base. J. P. Arencibia has hit three of them. Michael Choice with two is the only other Ranger with more than one.