BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers continued on a roll Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Angels to take two out of three, their third series win in a row. Texas finished their last road trip of the season by winning five of six games and have now won eight of their last nine. Nick Tepesch turned in one of his best performances of the year Sunday afternoon with seven innings of one run ball allowing four hits to the Angels. He got no decision as the game was tied when he departed. Texas scored the winning run in the top of the ninth on Ryan Rua’s first Major League home run, and Neftali Feliz struck out the three batters he faced in the bottom half of the inning to earn his 11th save of the season. Allen native Shawn Tolleson (3-1) was credited with the win after he recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning.
The series began Friday night with a Ranger rout. Texas scored three runs in the first inning to stake starting pitcher Lisaverto Bonilla to a lead before he ever took the mound. The Rangers’ batsmen added four more runs in the second and ran the lead to 10-0 before the Angels finally cracked the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Bonilla threw 85 pitches over five innings to qualify for the win, his second in as many starts. Four Ranger relievers pitched an inning each to finish the game.
Offensively, Ryan Rua had a four hit game, Jake Smolinski hit his first Major League home run, and seven different Rangers drove in at least one run. The final score was 12-3.
Friday’s win was the Rangers’ season high seventh in a row, but the win streak was halted Saturday by Jerod Weaver. Weaver was outstanding as he allowed three runs over seven innings to win his 18th game of the year to go with eight losses. Albert Pujols, David Freese and Mike Trout hit home runs, all slugged off Ranger starting pitcher Colby Lewis, as Los Angeles built an 8-0 lead after five innings. The Rangers rallied back late with a run in the seventh and four more in the eighth to pull within three. Adrian Beltre had three hits and two RBI’s in his quest to win the American League batting championship, but it was too little. Huston Street shut the Rangers down in the ninth inning for his 39th save. 8-5 was the final score. Lewis (10-14) was the losing pitcher.
The Angels had wrapped up the division championship before the series began, but still had incentive to win in their quest for the best record in the A. L. and home field advantage in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. The two losses were damaging as they go into the last week of play with a 2.5 game lead over Baltimore (two in the loss column) for the league’s top record.
The Rangers have completed the road portion of their 2014 schedule and now return to Arlington for the final seven games of the season. Houston is the first opponent, but the Silver Boot trophy is not in the balance as the Astros have already won 11 of the first 16 games between the two Texas teams. The announced Ranger pitchers in the series are Derek Holland (1-0) on Monday night, Nick Martinez (4-11) on Tuesday, and TBA on Wednesday.
INJURIES: Alex Rios’s 2014 season is over. He has been plagued with a sore thumb that has not responded to treatment. He finishes the year with a .280 batting average, four home runs and 54 RBIs. He will likely be a free agent this winter. Texas holds an option for Rios in 2014 at $14 million, but it is unlikely that the Rangers will exercise that option. Jurickson Profar, who was slated to be the Rangers’ second baseman in 2014, has missed the entire season with a torn muscle in his right shoulder. He is experiencing more soreness in his shoulder and will not be able to participate next month in the Arizona Fall League as expected.
* With Sunday’s win, the Ranger record in day games is 25-18, a .581 winning percentage. Texas finished the season with a road record of 34-47, a .420 winning percentage. Sunday’s win was also the Rangers’ 62nd of the year, such that they need to win just one game this week at home to avoid a 100 loss season. Arizona at 62-94 now has the worst record in baseball, one-half game worse than the Rangers (one in the loss column), as they have six games remaining and the Rangers have seven.
* Texas will lead the Major Leagues in games with eight or more runs allowed. Saturday’s game against the Angels was the 37th, nine more than any other team in the Majors.