BY: Richard W.Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – After playing 10 straight games to start the season, Texas gets their first off day Thursday after losing their second series in a row, this time to the Angels two games to one. The Rangers record is 4-6, and they are in fourth place behind ahead of only 3-4 Seattle.
Los Angeles routed Texas 10-2 in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale. Texas summoned Anthony Ranaudo to start the game in injured Derek Holland’s place. It did not go well. Ranaudo struggled with his command, and Los Angeles capitalized early with a six run second inning. Shoddy fielding contributed. Three of the runs scored after a muffed ground ball with two outs, which was surprisingly scored a hit. The Rangers mustered six hits in the game, and their only scores came on solo home runs in the fifth and ninth innings.
The Rangers won game two on Tuesday night 8-2, as they have won game two on all three series so far this year. It was also the game that Nick Martinez pitched. Martinez has pitched great, receiving super run support and winning half the games Texas has won. He’s allowed just one run in 14 innings over his two starts, and that was an unearned run on Tuesday night, so his ERA is a pristine league leading 0.00.
The Rangers have scored 37 runs on the season. They have hit eight home runs. 18 of the runs scored, and six of the eight home runs have come in the two games that Martinez has started.
It hasn’t been a free ride for Martinez though. He works fast. That keeps his fielders sharp. It also speeds up the game. Martinez is appreciative of the run support, saying after Tuesday’s game, “When these guys swing the bat hot like that, I try to do my best to get them back into the dugout.”
It’s just two starts. Way too early to go crazy and predict that he’ll make the All-Star team or some such. But in a season that looks bleak in a lot of areas, he’s the brightest light in the Rangers’ camp.
The series started Monday night with a disappointing 6-3 loss. Texas knocked Matt Shoemaker around for three first inning runs to seemingly take charge of the game. That lead lasted until the fifth, when Ross Detwiler gave up a pair of home runs, each of which was preceded by a walk. The four runs gave the Angels a 5-3 lead. They added a run in the ninth for the final score.
The attendance at Monday’s game was announced at 18,401. Shocking! It was the first game in almost five years that failed to draw 20,000. Since attendance in the American League is based on ticket sales, not the actual turnstile count, the total meant that the Rangers’ season ticket sales fell below 20,000 for the first time in years. Attendance has declined the past two seasons, and appears to be in for another decline of 20% or more this year.
After Thursday’s off day, the Rangers embark on an eight game road trip to the Pacific time zone. It starts with three games in Seattle to finish up the first round of division play. Next week has two off days as they play two games in Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday and three over the weekend against the Angels to start a second round of divisional play.
* Tanner Scheppers will be activated for Friday’s game in Seattle. Anthony Ranaudo was sent back to AAA Round Rock after Wednesday’s game to make a roster spot available for Scheppers.
* The Texas bullpen has thrown 43-1/3rd innings in the first 10 games, the most bullpen innings in the Major Leagues.