BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Arizona swept Texas in a two game set to run the Rangers’ losing streak to five games, home losing streak to eight games, and home record to 15-24. Arizona ended Yovani Gallardo’s scoreless innings streak in game one and pounded Matt Harrison, making his first start in almost 14 months after spinal fusion surgery, in game two and take the season series three games to one, after earlier splitting a pair in Phoenix.
Texas is on the edge of seeing this season go down the tubes as far as being a playoff contender is concerned, as they trail first place Houston by seven games and second place Los Angeles by 5.5 in the West Division. They are five games out for the second Wild Card playoff spot with five teams to pass.
Gallardo, the Rangers’ hottest pitcher, tried to snap the losing streak Tuesday night. He had a string of 29-1/3rd consecutive innings over his five previous starts on the line. However, it was obvious from the beginning that he wasn’t sharp. He gave up a base runner in every inning, and was fortunate to escape scoreboard damage until the fifth. The first two batters reached in the second inning, but Chris Owings popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt that Gallardo turned into a double play to quell that rally. Two innings later, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with one out, and Nick Ahmed lined sharply to second base for an inning ending double play.
Gallardo’s luck ran out in the fifth inning. A long fly ball to left center was dropped by Josh Hamilton. It was rightly scored a triple, but it was catchable. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a walk and stolen base. With two outs, Jake Lamb drove in both runners with a broken bat single to center field. Officially, Gallardo’s streak ended at 33-1/3rd innings, which is the third longest streak in Texas/Washington franchise history behind 39 scoreless innings for Kenny Rogers in 1995 and 36 by Charlie Hough in 1983.
Gallardo was replaced with two outs in the sixth inning after giving up another run. For the night, he was charged with three earned runs on eight hits and five walks.
Sam Freeman finished the sixth inning by retiring the only batter he faced. He was the first of six Ranger relievers that finished the game. The seven pitchers used in the game is the most in two seasons in games played in months other than September when the rosters expand. Spencer Patton was the reliever that gave up a fourth run to Arizona.
The Rangers offense was essentially a no-show. They were on the verge of being shut out for the second time in three games as they mustered just two hits in the first seven innings off D-Backs starter Robbie Ray. Elvis Andrus, who had the Rangers first hit of the night in the fifth inning, led off the eighth by reaching third base when his fly ball to right field was dropped. Sin-Shoo Choo followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Andrus to end the shutout. With two outs in the inning, Delino DeShields, Jr. doubled and came home on Rougned Odor’s single, to score a second unearned run.
That narrowed the gap to 4-2, which proved to be the final score as Brad Ziegler closed out the Rangers in the ninth inning on 12 pitches. Ray (3-4) was the winning pitcher. Gallardo (7-7) took the loss. Ziegler earned his 13th save.
On Wednesday, Matt Harrison made his first start since early in the 2014 season. He had been knocked around in his minor league rehab starts, so there was no reason to believe the results would differ at the Major League level. He gave up five runs in the second inning, with the big hit being an A. J. Pollock three run home run. Harrison finished four innings allowing six runs total on six hits and three walks. Anthony Bass followed and gave up a home run to increase Arizona’s run total to seven.
The Rangers came back with two runs in the third inning, with Choo driving in one on a ground out, and Fielder driving in another with a single. Hamilton drove home a third run in the fifth inning, and Choo drove home another in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.
7-4 was the final score. Harrison (0-1) was the losing pitcher for Texas. Randall Delgado (4-2) was the D-Backs winning pitcher in relief after starter Jeremy Hellickson failed to qualify for the win because he left after four innings with a blister problem. Brad Ziegler finished the game for Arizona to earn his second save in as many nights and his 14th overall.
The Rangers have their second off day of the week on Thursday and then host San Diego for three games this weekend before next week’s break for the All-Star game. San Diego arrives in fourth place in the N. L. West with a 39-48 record. The Rangers are 13-12 all time against the Padres, which makes their first appearance in Arlington since 2009. This is the first of two three-game series with San Diego this season as the Rangers will play three more games against the Pads in Petco Park in early September.
Texas starts Wandy Rodriguez (5-4) on Friday, Colby Lewis (8-3) on Saturday, and Yovani Gallardo (7-7) on Sunday afternoon. The Padres’ starters are tentatively expected to be Ian Kennedy (4-8), “Big Game” James Shields (7-3) and Tyson Ross (5-7).
* Ranger radio play-by-play announcer Eric Nadel is on vacation this week. He did not call either game against Arizona and will not be behind the mic this weekend for the San Diego series. Jared Sandler joined Matt Hicks to broadcast this week’s games.
* Martin Perez made his fifth rehab start Tuesday night with AAA Round Rock. He completed six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, one of which was a home run. He walked none and struck out six. He was very efficient as he needed just 79 pitches (13 per inning). He likely will make one more minor league rehab start to stay sharp and then join the Rangers to start one of the first five games after the All-Star break.
* Prince Fielder is the Rangers’ lone All-Star representative. He will also participate in the Home Run Derby contest next Monday, which he has won twice previously.
* Texas has just three saves in home games this year with 39 home games in the books. That’s the fewest in baseball. Toronto with five is the next team on the list.