BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers won Sunday’s series finale 5-1 to avoid a three game sweep at the hands of Cleveland. Nick Martinez won his third game, and Mitch Moreland hit a home run and a double to lead the Rangers to the win, which ended a three game losing streak. Texas finished the week and the home stand at 3-4, and Sunday’s win improved the Rangers’ record to 16-22 overall and 6-13 at home. Texas has still not won a series in six tries at home this season (0-5-1) and have a 1-7-4 record in series for the season. Texas is in fourth place in the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of last place Oakland and nine games behind first place Houston.
Nick Martinez, the Rangers best pitcher so far this season, turned in perhaps his worst performance of the year. He had control issues from beginning to end of his outing. Cleveland had at least one base runner in every inning as Martinez gave up five hits and walked five batters in five innings. He needed 103 pitches to get the 15 outs. Only 57 (55%) were strikes.
In the end though, Martinez allowed just one run.
The Rangers offense staked Martinez to a two run lead by scoring one in the second and another run in the third inning. Moreland doubled in the second and Adrian Beltre scored on the play after a throwing error by Cleveland right fielder Nick Swisher. Prince Fielder singled home the second run in the third inning.
Cleveland cracked the scoreboard with a run in the fifth inning, so Martinez turned the game over to the bullpen, always a scary proposition, with a 2-1 lead. The disaster that has been the Rangers’ bullpen got reinforcements on Sunday. Ross Ohlendorf and Tanner Scheppers woke up Sunday morning in Colorado Springs, where AAA Round Rock was playing, but got to Arlington in time to pitch. Ohlendorf zipped the Indians three up and three down in the sixth inning. Scheppers zipped them six up and six down in the seventh and eighth innings, throwing just 19 pitches. Shawn Tolleson faced four batters to get three outs in the ninth inning to close out the game.
Meanwhile, Mitch Moreland lengthened the lead with a two run home run and Beltre drove in another run with an eighth inning sacrifice fly to make the final score 5-1. Martinez is 3-0, 1.88 with the win. The Rangers are 7-1 in his starts. Cleveland’s Hector Carrasco (4-4) took the loss.
Sunday’s win followed another horrible bullpen collapse on Saturday. Both teams scored at will as the sixth inning was the only one in which at least one run wasn’t scored. Colby Lewis gave up six runs (five earned) over five innings, yet still left the game with a chance to win, as the Rangers had come back to score seven against Cleveland starter Danny Salazar.
However, Keone Kela coughed up the lead when he allowed a seventh inning run that tied the game at seven. It was Kela’s second blown save of the year. Texas looked good to win though when Robinson Chirinos homered in the eighth inning. It was the Rangers’ third home run of the game and gave Texas an 8-7 lead with three outs to go.
The bullpen struck again. This time it was Neftali Feliz. He walked a batter and gave up two hits, the last of which was a Jason Kipnis home run that sent Cleveland to a 10-8 win. It was Feliz’s third blown save and his record is 1-2 with the loss. Scott Atchison (1-1) was the winning pitcher, and Cody Allen was credited with his sixth save for Cleveland.
In Friday’s series opener, Prince Fielder homered, his fifth, in the first inning, as did Adrian Beltre as the Rangers took a 3-2 lead. It was Beltre’s fifth of the season, and also the 400th of his career. The Rangers never scored again.
Wandy Rodriguez’s magic wasn’t there Friday night. The Ranger starter was knocked out in the fifth inning giving up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk. Kyuji Fujikawa gave up three more runs in the sixth inning to complete Cleveland’s scoring. Fujukawa was designated for assignment to make room for Ross Ohlendorf on Sunday.
8-3 was the final score. Rodriguez is now 1-2, 3.86. Ryan Webb (1-0) was Cleveland’s winning pitcher in relief of Bruce Chen, the Tribe’s starting pitcher.
The Rangers are off Monday and start a stretch of 17 consecutive games without an off day with a nine game, three city road trip in Boston on Tuesday. The Ranger announced starting pitchers are Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday, TBD on Wednesday, after the originally announced starter Ross Detwiler was placed on the disabled list on Sunday, and Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday. They will face Wade Miley (2-4), Joe Kelly (1-2) and Clay Buchholz (2-4)
* Sin-Shoo Choo went 0-5 Friday evening to end his 14 game hitting streak. He hit .373 during the streak, and his average has risen from 0.96 to .242 after Sunday’s game.
* The Rangers are 9-8 in May, which represents two more wins than the team had in April.
* Josh Hamilton had five hits for Frisco over the weekend and is now 9-28 (.321) in his minor league rehab appearances. He likely will be activated to the Major League roster during the current road trip.
* Elvis Andrus had at least one hit in all three games of the series and now has at least one hit in 46 of 47 career games played against Cleveland.
* After Saturday’s bullpen meltdown, the Rangers’ relief corps was told that all bullpen roles are open, and that for now, the team will be looking at matchups for late game situations. The Rangers are now 2-9 in games in which the starting pitcher went at least five, but less than six innings.