BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers lost two of three this weekend to the Astros, their first series loss of the season. It dropped their season record to 3-4 as to date, they have alternated winning and losing each day.
The home opening game was even more disastrous than the regular season opener in Oakland. Starting pitcher Derek Holland threw only in the 80s in the first inning, gave up a run and came out of the game afterward. 24 hours later, he was parked on the 60-day disabled list with a shoulder strain. Outfielders Ryan Rua (ankle) and Sin-Shoo Choo (back) also left the game early with injuries. Rua was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. Choo did not play Saturday or start Sunday, but he pinch hit in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game, and stayed in the game in right field for the balance of the 14 inning affair amassing three plate appearances.
The Rangers never caught up with Houston in the opener after falling behind in the first inning and lost 5-1 with the lone run scoring from third on a Delino DeShields, Jr. ground ball force out.
The lone Ranger win came on Saturday in Yovani Gallardo’s home debut. The Fort Worth native admitted afterward that he was nervous pitching with his parents and friends in attendance, but he was fine, giving up two runs on eight hits over 5-2/3rd innings. He was the winning pitcher in the 6-2 Ranger win, his first W as a Ranger that evened his record at 1-1.
There wasn’t much to talk about offensively despite the four run margin. Astros’ errors made four of the six runs unearned. Elvis Andrus had two RBIs, while Rougned Odor and Carlis Peguero drove home the other two.
On Sunday, starting pitcher Colby Lewis encountered one bad inning – the second – when the Astros tagged him for four runs on four hits, none of which were singles. He ended up pitching into the eighth inning, allowing no more runs and just three additional hits.
Houston starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel breezed through six scoreless innings, before running into trouble in the seventh inning. The Rangers got back two runs to chase Keuchel and then took Lewis off the hook for the loss by scoring two more in the eighth to tie the game.
Neither team scored in the ninth inning, but the Rangers looked to have a walk-off win in hand when Leonys Martin hit a blast to right field with the bases loaded in the 10th. Astros’ right fielder George Springer broke Ranger fans’ hearts by making a fabulous catch on the drive as he crashed into the fence, most surely taking away a walk-off grand slam home run.
The game stayed tied until the 14th inning, when Houston scored two runs to win 6-4 and take the series two games to one. Logan Verrett, the seventh Ranger pitcher of the day, took the loss falling to 0-1.
With a week in the books, the Rangers are in some ways worse off than anticipated with their 3-4 record and in some ways better. The good part is that the division looks awful. The Angels and Mariners were thought to be the top two teams in the division. The Angels are just 2-4 and their top two starting pitchers – Jered Weaver and C. J. Wilson – have not pitched well. The Mariners are tied with the Astros for first place, just one-half game ahead of Texas with 3-3 records. Oakland is tied for third with the Rangers at 3-4.
The bad news of course is the injuries. Holland was counted on to be a mainstay in the rotation, especially after Yu Darvish was lost for the season. He’s out at least two months and the All-Star break may be a more realistic time frame for his return.
The Ranger offense has been puny, not unexpectedly. There’s virtually no power. Texas hit no home runs in the Houston series, and still have just the four they hit in game four at Oakland as the only long balls of the season. The team batting average is .197, the on-base percentage is .280 and the slugging percentage is .299.
The defense is awful too. The Rangers have made eight errors and rank 27th in fielding percentage.
Los Angeles is in town for three games starting tonight. Ross Detwiler and Nick Martinez start Monday’s and Tuesday’s games. A replacement for Holland to start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale has not been identified.