SPLITSVILLE IN THE DESERT

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers split a pair of games in Phoenix to start the week, winning game one 7-1 on Tuesday night and losing game two 8-5 Wednesday. The team still has not won a series this year (0-3-2) or even two games in a row as they enjoy their second off day of the week and third of the season on Thursday before opening a three game series in Anaheim this weekend. The series split brought the Rangers’ record to 6-9, leaving them two games behind first place Houston and tied with Los Angeles and Seattle for the worst record in the division.

The series opened Tuesday with Nick Martinez on the mound, and he was again magnificent, turning in his third consecutive quality start. A fielding error ran up his pitch count which forced him out of the game after six innings. He allowed a run on three hits, the second run and first earned run that he has allowed this year. That ballooned his ERA all the way up to 0.42!

Unfortunately, the Rangers scored late in the game after Martinez had departed, such that he was not credited with the win. Reliever Shawn Tolleson turned in another fine relief outing to earn the win, the first for the Rangers’ bullpen this season.

Offensively, Prince Fielder had the big blow, a two-run home run in the eighth inning, as Texas scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Fielder had two hits and three RBIs in the game to spearhead the 7-1 victory.

Wednesday’s game was one of missed opportunities early. They faced the Diamondbacks highly regarded rookie pitcher, Archie Bradley. Bradley is no stranger to the Metroplex as he played for the Dallas Mustangs Connie Mack team. He lives in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, and coming out of high school, he signed to play baseball and quarterback for Oklahoma. Ultimately, he chose professional baseball over the Sooners after getting drafted high in the first round of MLB’s Amateur Draft.

Bradley surprisingly cracked the Arizona rotation in spring training and came into the game with a 1-0 record and 1.42 ERA in two starts this season. He quickly got the first two outs of the game, but then problems arose locating his pitches. He barely got out of the first inning as he proceeded to walk two batters, hit the next, and walk another to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. He finally retired the seventh batter of the inning with the Arizona bullpen in action. He was on the ropes for completing even five innings with a pitch count of 37 for the inning.

However, from that point, Bradley clicked in. His pitch command was never pin point, but he got the job done. He walked the leadoff batter in the second inning, but a double play got the D-Backs back into the dugout on just nine pitches. He walked the leadoff batter in the third inning, but didn’t give up a hit until the fifth when Yovani Gallardo singled. Bradley gave up another hit in the sixth to finish his night on the mound. One run on two hits and five walks.

While Bradley was toiling on the mound, the Diamondback hitters were providing run support. A fielding error in the first inning led to two D-Back runs to give Bradley the second inning lead at 2-1. They added single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to increase the lead to 5-1 by the time Bradley left the game. Bradley was the winning pitcher improving to 2-0 in three starts.

Ranger starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo did not have a vintage performance for Texas. He gave up five runs in five innings on six hits and a walk. Two fielding errors, a familiar theme of this year’s Ranger team, made two of those runs allowed unearned. His record fell to 2-2 with the loss.

The Rangers came back off the Arizona bullpen to score four ninth inning runs. Adrian Beltre’s second home run of the season leading off the ninth was the highlight hit of the inning.

The Ranger starting pitchers have been announced for this weekend’s series in Anaheim, and there is a surprise. Wandy Rodriguez will be added to the roster to start Friday’s game. Struggling Ross Detwiler will be pushed back to get extra sideline work before starting again next week in Arlington. Colby Lewis will start Saturday and Nick Martinez on Sunday. The Angels will counter with Garrett Richards Friday, C. J. Wilson on Saturday, and Hector Santiago on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers are now 1-1 in inter-league play this season. Texas and Arizona play another two game series in Arlington on July 7 and 8. Rangers pitchers went 1-4 at the plate in the series – Nick Martinez 0-2 and Yovani Gallardo 1-2.

* Tuesday’s game was the first this year in which Ranger pitchers did not allow an extra base hit.

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