BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas swept the Dodgers in Arlington two games to none to win their ninth series of the year and their fourth straight at home. They are 8-1 in their last nine series after the slow April start. Starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Alex Gonzalez extended the Rangers’ streak of consecutive quality starts to 12, the longest in the Majors this season and a new team record.
In the Bayou City, the Astros also swept Colorado on Monday and Tuesday to keep the Rangers 2.5 games out of first place, two in the loss column.
The series opened with a delightful game to watch. Gallardo threw one of his better games as he scattered four hits over seven shutout innings, striking out four and walking three. He was aided by the Rangers’ defense, which not only committed no errors, but turned four double plays. The outing lowered Gallardo’s ERA to 3.16.
For the Dodgers, Carlos Frias was almost as good. He shut out the Rangers for five innings. In the sixth inning, the Rangers finally struck for four runs. Prince Fielder started the scoring parade with a run scoring single after Sin-Shoo Choo and Joey Gallo walked to open the inning. Mitch Moreland followed with another run scoring single to plate a second run. Rougned Odor, just recalled from AAA, completed the scoring with the third run scoring single of the inning, which this time plated two runs after an Elvis Andrus sacrifice bunt.
That was all the Ranger scoring on the night. Tanner Scheppers relieved Gallardo and gave up a home run to Yazmani Grandal leading off the Dodgers’ half of the eighth inning. The situation got even more tense when Alberto Callaspo walked and Joc Pederson singled with one out bringing the tying run to the plate. Scheppers however put out the rally as he coaxed a pop to third base from Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Shawn Tolleson pitched the ninth. He surrendered a lead-off single, but got a fly out, strikeout and ground out to finish the game.
The final score was 4-1. Gallardo evened his record at 6-6 with the win, becoming the second Ranger pitcher to win six games this year. Frias (4-4) was the losing pitcher. Tolleson was credited with his ninth save.
In Tuesday’s series finale, Texas struck first as with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, the Rangers put together a walk, two singles and another walk to push across a run. They added a second run in the fifth inning, driven in by an infield single off Fielder’s bat.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez turned in another start similar to his others. He wasn’t overpowering, but inning after inning, he took the mound and got outs. He turned in eight shutout innings and got within two outs of a complete game win. It was not to be. A walk to Howie Kendrick in the ninth inning was followed by a Justin Turner home run that tied the game at two. That finished Gonzalez’s night, allowing the two runs on five hits and two walks. He receives no decision on the night.
Shawn Tolleson, named as the Rangers closer before the game followed Gonzalez to the mound and had difficulty getting out of the inning, allowing two hits before recording the third out.
Brett Anderson, a native Texan that played at Oklahoma State, pitched a nice game for L. A. He gave up eight hits and two runs over eight innings, and like Gonzalez, he received a no decision for a nice night of work.
The Rangers then disappointingly had to bat in the ninth, but wasted little time. Robinson Chirinos led off the inning and hit the third pitch he saw for a home run to left center off Dodger reliever, Josh Raven. It was the Rangers’ fourth walk-off win of the year. Raven (2-1) took the loss, while Tolleson (2-1) was the winning pitcher.
The teams continue playing Wednesday and Thursday, but the venue moves to Los Angeles. Wandy Rodriguez (3-2) faces Clayton Kershaw (5-3) on Wednesday night, while Colby Lewis (6-3) goes against Zack Greinke (5-2) on Thursday.
* Mitch Moreland had a hit in both games to extend his current hitting streak to a career high 11 games.
* Texas starting pitchers have allowed just four home runs in the month of June.
*. TExas has played six consecutive errorless games.
* Texas is 10-11 all time against the Dodgers, and 3-1 against National League competition this season.
* On the injury front. Delino DeShields, Jr. is expected to be out three weeks with the hamstring strain that forced him to the disabled list on Monday. Josh Hamilton’s recovery is progressing faster than expected as he is already swinging a bat.
* This series, the Rangers’ first inter-league home series this season, drew 64,145, an average of 32,073 per game, which is slightly more than the Rangers’ season average of 30,849.