BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers lost their second series in a row to a last place team as the Oakland Athletics swept this week’s three game series in Arlington. The Oakland sweep extended the Rangers losing streak to a season high five games. Texas fell into a second place tie with Los Angeles in the A. L. West, and trail the first place Astros by five games, four in the loss column.
Last week, the Rangers won four of seven games despite scoring just 18 runs. In this series, the outstanding starting pitching that made last week possible vanished. Chi Chi Gonzalez and Wandy Rodriguez had their worst outings of the year, giving up six and eight runs respectively in short starts. In Thursday’s finale, the bullpen crashed when handed a tie game after six innings.
The Rangers surprisingly activated Adrian Beltre shortly before Tuesday’s series opener. He went 2-12 in the series including 1-4 Tuesday night when the Rangers scored six runs. That’s usually good for a win, but not this time.
Gonzalez couldn’t hold onto the 5-2 lead Ranger hitters staked him to. He was knocked around harder than in any of his previous four starts as he gave up four runs and the lead in the fifth inning. For the night, he allowed six runs on eight hits, one of which was a home run, while lasting 5-2/3rds innings. His ERA ballooned up more than a run to 2.27. He took the loss to even his record at 2-2. The concerning thing about Gonzalez’s start was that this was his first outing in which he faced a team for the second time.
Keone Kela gave up the other two runs in relief on a Ben Zobrist home run. That proved to be the difference in the game as the final score was Oakland 8 -Texas 6.
Former Ranger draft choice Jesse Chavez (4-6) started and won for Oakland. He was less than outstanding as he gave up five runs in five innings on eight hits. He left with the lead though and the Oakland bullpen did the job. Drew Pomeranz, the fourth Oakland reliever, pitched the ninth inning for his first save, as closer Tyler Clippard was unavailable.
On Wednesday, Wandy Rodriguez was hit even harder than Gonzalez. He lasted just four innings, allowing eight runs on 11 hits. Rodriguez’s ERA bounced up almost a full run to 4.06. The outing ended a streak of six consecutive starts in which Rodriguez had allowed three or fewer runs, which was the third longest active streak in the American League.
Oakland struck early plating five runs in the first inning and coming back with three more in the second. After getting down 8-0, the Rangers came back to score two runs in the fifth inning on a Carlos Corporan double. 8-2 was the final score.
Kendall Graveman (4-4) started and earned the win with seven solid innings allowing the two runs on eight hits.
On Thursday, Sonny Gray continued his mastery over the Rangers. He was rocked harder than usual giving up three runs over six innings on nine hits. He did strike out seven. He is now 9-3 for the season with an outstanding 2.09 ERA. He has beaten the Rangers three times this year, and has a 5-0 record at Globe Life Park. His record against Texas is 7-3 with a 1.92 ERA in his career.
Colby Lewis started and turned in a decent outing. Like Gray, he completed six innings and allowed three runs. Keone Kela took the mound in the seventh inning with the game tied at three and promptly gave up two runs on a pair of hits. Kela has been one of two reliable relievers in the Rangers’ bullpen this season, but he looks to be showing the wear and tear of too many appearances. Kela couldn’t finish the seventh inning and neither could Sam Freeman, who relieved him. Freeman was charged with the third run of the inning. Spencer Patton finally put out the fire, but the damage was done.
Oakland took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, and three relievers shutout the Rangers the rest of the way on one hit. Clippard pitched the ninth to earn his 13th save of the year.
Texas has already played five more road games than home games for the season, but they hit the road for seven games in two cities over the next seven days. The trip starts with three games in Toronto, followed by four in Baltimore. (Toronto, Baltimore and Detroit are the only A. L. teams the Rangers have not faced this season.) The announced Ranger starting pitchers for the series in Toronto are Nick Martinez (5-3) on Friday night, Yovani Gallardo (6-6) on Saturday afternoon, and Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-2) on Sunday afternoon. Toronto counters with Mark Buehrle (7-4) on Friday, TBA on Saturday and Drew Hutchison (7-1) on Sunday.
* Josh Hamilton is expected to be activated Monday in Baltimore. He began his minor league rehab assignment on Wednesday of this week. The Rangers don’t want to activate him during the Toronto series to keep him off the Rogers Centre astroturf.
* Matt Harrison also made a rehab start for Frisco on Wednesday, giving up five runs on six hits in six innings.
* Wednesday’s game was the first time Wandy Rodriguez has faced the Athletics in his career, the only Major League club Rodriguez had never faced.
* Rougned Odor is batting .333 since returning from the minor leagues on June 15.