KANSAS CITY SPLITS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Kansas City beat Texas in Thursday afternoon’s series finale to gain a split of the four game series. It was the second straight series split of a four game series for the Rangers and coupled with their three game sweep of the Astros last week, the team is 7-4 over the last 11 games, all against opponents with winning records. The Rangers have moved out the American League West cellar, 2-1/2 games ahead of Oakland.

There was delightful weather for Monday’s series opener. The start time temperature was 71, and that number dipped into the upper 60′s as the game progressed. The Rangers complied by playing a super game to watch. It was undoubtedly the best played home game by the Rangers so far this season. Colby Lewis pitched well again, and the Rangers’ offense supported him by scoring early and often to take an 8-2 win.

Lewis retired the Royals in order for the first three innings. Alcides Escobar singled to open the fourth inning. He later scored on Kendrys Morales’s single to center field, but that hit ended the inning when Leonys Martin made a perfect throw home to nail Mike Moustakas at the plate trying to score from second base. Lewis allowed just one more hit over the seven innings he completed to get the win. He allowed two walks and struck out five as his record and ERA improved to 3-2 and 2.40.

The Rangers supported Lewis with four second inning runs. K. C. starting and losing pitcher Danny Duffy was wild walking the bases loaded to start the inning. Delino DeShields, Jr. followed with the key hit of the game, a solid double lined into left field. Two runs scored on the play. A wild pitch scored a third. Sin-Shoo Choo singled home DeShields for the fourth run of the inning.

The offense finished the night with three home runs. Adrian Beltre hit a two run bomb in the fourth inning, Tommy Field, who arrived after the Rangers had completed batting practice, hit the first of his career in the seventh inning, and Prince Fielder hit his third of the year in the eighth inning.

Duffy dropped to 2-2, 5.67 after getting knocked out in the fourth inning having surrendered six earned runs on five hits and six walks.

Nick Martinez was Tuesday’s starting pitcher, and that usually means two things. Martinez will pitch a good game and the Rangers’ offense shows up. Both of those things happened, but the Rangers still didn’t win in a game that was perhaps the most entertaining home game to watch this year.

Martinez pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three earned runs (four total); a quality start for the sixth time in seven outings. Six quality starts tied him for the league lead. He gave up six hits, including the first home run he’s allowed this year, and walked one, while striking out four. His ERA rose a tic to 1.88, which ranks fourth in the American League and seventh overall.

The Rangers’ offense chipped in with 14 hits that produced six runs, as they scored one run in six different innings. Sin-Shoo Choo hit the first pitch thrown by K. C. starter Edinson Volquez for a home run. Choo and Kyle Blanks finished with three hits each. Elvis Andrus, Fielder and Field had two hits each. It was a consistent offensive performance.

The Rangers were felled by an error that led to an unearned run and by poor base running as they gave up four outs on the bases late in the game. Mostly though, they were felled by the faulty bullpen. Alex Claudio surrendered a big fly in the seventh inning to the only batter he faced. Neftali Feliz gave up a run in the ninth inning, and Stolmy Pimentel gave up a home run in the 10th inning that proved to be the game winner for the Royals. Final score: Royals 7 – Rangers 6.

Kansas City’s winning pitcher was closer Greg Holland (1-0), who was one of three K. C. pitchers that were credited with a blown save in the game. Pimentel (0-1) took the loss.

The Rangers secured a series split with a solid 5-2 win on Wednesday. Choo again led off the Rangers’ first inning with a home run. It was the fourth time in Ranger history that the leadoff batter homered to start the game on consecutive days. Mike Hargrove, Oddibe McDowell and Ian Kinsler are the other three. The Rangers scored two in the first and two more in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead early. Fielder homered in the fourth inning to complete the Rangers’ scoring. It was his fourth, which ties him for the team lead.

Yovany Gallardo pitched his best game as a Ranger, though he said afterward that he didn’t have his best stuff. The early lead helped as he threw strikes early in the count. Kansas City put the ball in play to keep his pitch count down. He gave up six hits in seven innings. Three of those came in the seventh inning when the Royals pierced the scoreboard with a pair of runs. That was all the damage they would do though, as Shawn Tolleson and Neftali Feliz retired all six batters they faced in the eighth and ninth innings.

Gallardo was the winning pitcher. He’s 3-5, and his ERA dropped to 3.94. Feliz earned his sixth save. K. C.’s firegalling right-hander, Yordano Ventura, took the loss, falling to 2-3 on the year. The game time was 2:15, the shortest Ranger game of the season.

Ross Detwiler started Thursday with the usual result. He gave up three runs on nine hits over five innings to take the loss and stay winless at 0-5. His ERA is up to 6.95. Jeremy Guthrie (3-2) was Kansas City’s starting and winning pitcher. Greg Holland struggled through a scoreless ninth inning as he walked two batters before claiming out number three for the save, his seventh of the year.

Cleveland comes to town for this weekend’s series. Cleveland was expected to challenge for the Central Division title, but has been one of the more disappointing teams in the league. The Tribe is looking to turn their ship around as they arrive in last place. The Rangers will start Wandy Rodriguez on Friday, Colby Lewis on Saturday, and Nick Martinez on Sunday. The Indians counter with Bruce Chen (0-1), Danny Salazar (4-1) and Carlos Carrasco (4-3).

NOTABLE:

* Josh Hamilton began his minor league rehab assignment in Nashville with the Round Rock Express earlier this week. He’ll continue this weekend in Frisco, where the Rough Riders play at home against the Corpus Christi Hooks on Saturday and Sunday, and against the Midland Rock Hounds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Hamilton is scheduled to start all but the Monday game.

* Monday’s Kansas City game was the Rangers’ first three home run game in Arlington this year.

* Sin-Soo Choo had at least two hits in each game against Kansas City extending his hitting streak to 14 games. His batting average has risen to .243 for the season.

* The Rangers hit a home run in a season high six consecutive games, a streak that ended Thursday, when every Ranger hit was a single.

* ROSTER MOVES: On Monday, Rougned Odor was sent to AAA Round Rock and Tommy Field was called up from the same club. Field’s previous Major League experience consisted of 28 at bats. He started every game in the Kansas City series at second base and stole his first Major League base and hit his first Major League home run. On Wednesday, Mitch Moreland was activated from the disabled list, and Jake Smolinski was sent to AAA Round Rock to make room. Left-handed reliever Sam Freeman, a Carrollton native, was brought up from AAA and Stolmy Pimentel was designated for assignment. On Thursday, reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was added to the roster, and Spencer Patton was sent to Round Rock.

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