BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas dropped their third series in a row this weekend in Toronto, losing two of three to the Blue Jays. The Rangers got two good starts in the series from their rotation, but scored just eight runs. Texas has lost eight of their last ten games, and their record fell to an even .500 at 38-38. They are now in third place, five games behind the Astros and one behind the Angels.
The Rangers’ losing streak reached a season high six games in Friday’s opener. The Ranger highlight came in the first inning when Prince Fielder homered to give Texas a 1-0 lead. It was his 300th career home run. The lead didn’t last long as Edwin Encarnacion erased it with a grand slam home run in the bottom half of the inning. Texas cut Toronto’s lead to 4-2 with a run in the second inning driven in by Leonys Martin.
That was as close as the Rangers would get as Nick Martinez was hit hard on this night. Toronto plated two more runs in the second inning, and Russell Martin homered in the third. That made the score 7-2, and the rout was on. Toronto added five more runs including a pair that scored on Encarnacion’s second home run of the game. Toronto is the hardest hitting team in baseball, and they flexed their muscles on Texas pitching Friday night. 12-2 was the final score.
Martinez (5-4) gave up nine runs on nine hits over six innings. Ross Detwiler gave up two runs on Encarnacion’s second home run. Adam Rosales saved the bullpen by pitching the eighth inning. He was touched for a Danny Valencia home run in his Major League pitching debut. Rosales became the first position player to pitch for the Rangers this season.
Mark Buehrle (8-4) was the beneficiary of Toronto’s offensive largesse. He gave up both Ranger runs over seven innings to earn the win.
A “stopper” in baseball is defined as a very good starting pitcher; one so good that he stops losing streaks for his team. On Saturday, Yovani Gallardo was a stopper in the true sense of the definition. He was dominating as he pitched eight shutout innings of two hit ball. He took a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning, got Jose Reyes to line out to right field leading off, but Josh Donaldson singled to end Gallardo’s day on the mound. Shawn Tolleson relieved and needed just three pitches to coax a game ending double play. 4-0 Rangers win.
The Rangers scratched a run across the plate in the second inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Rougned Odor. They built the lead throughout the game on solo home runs. Mitch Moreland hit his 10th in the fourth inning, Robinson Chirinos his seventh in the fifth inning, and Odor his third in the seventh inning.
Gallardo won to go to 7-6, the second Ranger pitcher with seven wins. He ran his career high scoreless innings streak to 23-1/3rd and lowered his ERA to 2.79. Matt Boyd (0-1) took the loss for Toronto in his Major League debut. Boyd is left-handed, and the Blue Jays called him up with just two starts above the AA level to attack the Rangers’ heavily left-handed batting order.
On Sunday, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez started and gave up three runs over six innings on three hits, his fourth quality start in six tries. Toronto’s Drew Hutchison was even better. He gave up just one run on four hits over 5-2/3rds innings, while recording eight strikeouts. Hutchison’s ERA was 5.33 for the season coming into the game and dropped to 4.99 with the performance. It’s a deceiving number though, as his ERA was 2.38 in games pitched at the Rogers Centre verses 8.92 on the road.
Hutchison won his fifth consecutive game improving to 8-1 for the season, which includes 6-1 at home, with the win.
Despite Hutchison’s dominance, the Rangers had plenty of scoring opportunities. They had nine hits to the Blue Jays’ four and left 12 men on base, going 2-15 with runners in scoring position.
Gonzalez (2-3) took the loss. Four Toronto relievers finished off the game, one of which was Bo Schultz, a Highland Park High School graduate. Roberto Osuna recorded the final four outs to earn his second save.
The Rangers stay in the Eastern time zone as they travel to Baltimore for four games to complete the road trip. Texas went 1-6 against the Orioles last year, including 0-4 at Orioles Park at Camden Yards. The announced starting pitchers are: Wandy Rodriguez (4-3) on Monday facing the Orioles’ Bud Norris (2-6). On Tuesday, it’s Colby Lewis (7-4) verses Miguel Gonzalez (6-4). Wednesday’s starters are Nick Martinez (5-4) for Texas and Wei-Yin Chen (3-4) for Baltimore. Yovani Gallardo (7-6) will go against TBA in Thursday’s series finale.
* Prince Fielder’s father hit 319 home runs in his career. When Prince hit his 300th on Friday night, the Fielders became just the second father/son combination to each hit 300 career home runs in the Majors. The other is the Bonds – Bobby and Barry. The Fielders’ combined total of 619 is third among father/son combinations. The Bonds have 1,064, and Ken Griffey, Sr. and Jr. combined for 782. Fielder also became just the fourth player to hit home run number 300 as a Texas Ranger. Juan Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, and Adrian Beltre are the other three, although Frank Howard hit his 300th in 1970 as a member of the Washington Senators prior to the franchise’s move to Texas.
* Prince Fielder had at least two hits in each of the games in Toronto and has five consecutive multi-hit games. He leads all Major League players with 33 multi-hit games this season.
* Martin Perez pitched four innings on Saturday night for Round Rock, allowing a run on three hits and no walks. He struck out two and threw 51 pitches in his third minor league rehab assignment start. Delino DeShields, Jr. also played in Round Rock’s game Saturday night in his first minor league rehab game. He was the Express’s designated hitter and went 3-4 with a double and a walk.
* The Rangers announced after Sunday’s game that Matt Harrison will make one more minor league rehab start this Wednesday and will join the Rangers afterward.