BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers split a pair of games with the Dodgers in Los Angeles, winning 5-3 on Wednesday and losing 1-0 on Thursday. That finished their games with the Dodgers this season with the Rangers winning three and losing one. The Dodgers’ starting pitchers in the L. A. portion of the series were Clayton Kershaw, considered by many to be the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Greinke, certainly one of the top five right-handers in the game. Getting a split against those two starters looks REAL GOOD!
Kershaw, a Highland Park High School graduate, was facing the Rangers, the team he grew up following for the first time in his career. He may have been a bit amped up. He certainly had good strikeout stuff, as he whiffed 10 Rangers in six innings. However, he gave up four earned runs, all driven in by left-handed batters that three weeks earlier were in the minor leagues.
In the second inning, Rougned Odor hit a looping line drive that dropped in front of the centerfielder, a ball that ordinarily would be a hit. Not this time though, as Adam Rosales was thrown out centerfielder to second baseman, a forceout, as Rosales held up to see if the ball would be caught. Prince Fielder scored from third on the play to give Texas an early 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Ranger pitcher Wandy Rodriguez singled to center field leading off the inning. Two strikeouts later, Joey Gallo blasted a pitch almost into orbit. The two run home run was estimated to travel 439 feet, the second longest home run Kershaw has ever given up. That extended the Rangers lead to 3-0. An inning later, Odor grounded a single into center field to drive home Rosales with the Rangers’ fourth run.
Rodriguez was in and out of trouble most of the night. He gave up 11 base runners (nine hits and two walks). However, he shut the Dodgers out for five innings, before getting scored upon in the sixth. The first two Dodgers of the inning, Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke singled and homered to cut the Ranger lead in half at 4-2. Enrique Hernandez followed with a double. A. J. Ellis then hit a screaming line drive up the middle that Rodriguez caught for out number one, but Alex Guerrero singled home Hernandez to cut the Rangers’ lead to one at 4-3.
Manager Jeff Banister had seen enough at that point. He brought in Jon Edwards, who deepened the Rangers’ hole by walking the only batter he faced. Sam Freeman replaced Edwards and got a strikeout and ground out to end the inning. Freeman was followed by Tanner Scheppers and Keone Kela. The much maligned bullpen gave up no runs or even hits on the night, and Prince Fielder added a home run off Dodger reliever Josh Ravin to make the final score 5-3.
Rodriguez’s outing ended the Rangers’ streak of 12 consecutive games with a quality start, but it was good enough to win on Wednesday night. He’s 4-2. Kela got the save, his first in the Major Leagues. Kershaw fell to 5-4.
The Rangers decided to bring Anthony Ranaudo up from Round Rock to start Thursday, giving the starting rotation an extra day of rest. Ranaudo was terrific! He scattered five hits over 6-2/3rds scoreless innings. He struck out four and walked two.
The Rangers’ bullpen again did a super job. Ross Detwiler, Scheppers and Kela followed Ranaudo. They again did not give up any hits. Kela walked two, and with two outs and a runner on third, Kela balked. That sent Hernandez home with the only run of the game.
1-0 was the final. Kela fell to 4-4 with the loss. L. A. reliever Kenley Jansen (2-0) was the winning pitcher.
The Astros continued their winning ways in Colorado, taking two while the Rangers split. That dropped the Rangers another game behind Houston in the standings. They now trail by 3.5 games, three in the loss column. They lead the third place Angels by two games.
Texas left after Thursday’s game for Chicago arriving at 7:15 Friday morning. The announced starting pitchers are Colby Lewis (6-3) on Friday night, Nick Martinez (5-2) on Saturday afternoon, and Yovani Gallardo (6-6) on Sunday afternoon. The White Sox counter with Chris Sale (6-3) on Friday, TBA on Saturday, and Jose Quintana (3-7) on Sunday.
* The Rangers have played eight consecutive errorless games, a season high.
* Anthony Ranaudo was returned to AAA Round Rock, and Jake Smolinski was designated for assignment on Friday. Those moves made room for reliever Alex Claudio to be called up and for outfielder Ryan Rua to be activated from the 60-day disabled list.