BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Texas lost game one, but came back to win the final two to win their first series out of the last five, two games to one. The Rangers got quality starts out of recently activated pitchers Matt Harrison and Martin Perez in the final two games to give the team a chance to win. Both pitchers were making their second appearances since being activated from the 60-day disabled list after significant surgeries that had kept them off the mound since last season. It was the first time this month that the Rangers have won two games in a row. The Rangers are still nine games out of first place with a record that’s four games under .500 at 45-49 despite the series win.
The first game was one of the more interesting games of the year. Nick Martinez was summoned from Round Rock to make the start for Texas after effectively taking a three week vacation. The Rangers optioned him to Round Rock after his last start on July 1 to slow the mounting innings total he has compiled this year. He pitched twice for the Express over the past three weeks for a total of six innings to ostensibly stay sharp.
Martinez had difficulty early with his command in the thinner Denver air. He gave up seven runs on seven hits in the first two innings, but rallied to retire the Rockies in the third and fourth innings without further scoreboard damage.
The Rangers’ offense began a comeback with two runs in the third inning. Tomas Telis, making his first start since being called up from Round Rock last week, and Prince Fielder singled home runs to cut the Colorado lead to five at 7-2. In the fifth inning, it became a game again as the Rangers scored three runs to get the lead down to two. Rougned Odor singled home a run, and Prince Fielder drove in two.
Meanwhile, the Rangers’ bullpen was magnificent. Anthony Bass, Spencer Patton and Sam Freeman followed Martinez with hitless, scoreless innings. Adrian Beltre doubled home a run in the seventh inning to bring Texas within a run at 7-6. They finally tied the game in the ninth inning, as Beltre again doubled home a run.
Tanner Scheppers had finished the eighth inning, and with the game tied, he came back out to start the ninth. Scheppers gave up two hits early on softly hit line drives that fell in. He retired just one batter before Ben Paulsen singled the game winning run home. Scheppers (3-1) was the losing pitcher and John Axford (2-2) was the winner for Colorado.
It was certainly one of the most disappointing losses of the season, but the team showed no sign of a hangover the next day. There’s an old saying about momentum in baseball – momentum is only as good as the next day’s pitcher. Matt Harrison proved to be that pitcher on Tuesday. He completed six shutout innings in clearly his best performance this year in the Majors or minors. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out two. He got nine groundouts and one flyout. Three of the groundouts turned into double plays
The offense showed up early and often. They struck for three runs in the second inning, and scored again in five of the final seven innings. Sin-Shoo Choo was the hitting star of the night. He hit for the cycle, driving in three runs. Delino DeShields, Jr. chipped in with four hits, and Rougned Odor, Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus also had multi-hit games to spearhead a 17 hit attack.
After Harrison departed, Spencer Patton, Keone Kela and Shawn Tolleson finished the game by tossing an inning each. They collectively allowed no runs on one hit and one walk. 9-0 was the final score. Harrison (1-1) was the winning pitcher, and Kyle Kendrick (3-11) took the loss for Colorado after giving up six runs on 10 hits in 4-1/3rd innings.
The Rangers led 5-0 early on Wednesday afternoon and led 8-4 late. Neither lead was safe. The Rockies tied the game at eight in the eighth inning. However, the Rangers came back with two in the ninth, both scoring on a bases loaded single off the bat of Andrus. Shawn Tolleson made the 10-8 score stand up as he quickly retired the Rockies in the ninth needing with just nine pitches. It was the ninth time the Rangers have scored in double digits this year.
Martin Perez was the Rangers’ starting pitcher. He got through six innings giving up four runs on six hits. An Odor error made one of the runs unearned, so the performance qualified as a quality start. Tanner Scheppers gave up four runs in the eighth inning to let Colorado back into the game, but he still qualified for the win. He’s 4-1. John Axford (2-3) took the loss for Colorado. Tolleson’s save was his 15th in 16 opportunities.
The Rangers are off Thursday and then complete the road trip with three games in Anaheim against the first place Angels this weekend. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Colby Lewis (9-4) on Friday night, Yovani Gallardo (7-9) on Saturday and Nick Matinez (5-6) on Sunday. Los Angeles counters with TBD, Hector Santiago (7-4) and Andrew Heaney (4-1). The Angels lead the season series seven games to two.
* Nick Martinez scored twice in Monday’s game. He became the first pitcher in Ranger history to score two runs in a game. The last pitcher to do so in franchise history was Paul Lindblad in 1971 for the Washington Senators.
* ESPN’s Keith Law released his updated rankings of Major League farm systems on Wednesday. The Rangers are third, moving up from11th in his rankings last January.
* Sin-Soo Choo’s cycle on Tuesday night was the eighth in Rangers history and the 306th in the history of Major League baseball.
* The Rangers improved to 7-7 in inter-league play. There are two inter-league series remaining on the Rangers’ schedule, both three game sets. They play the Giants on the next home stand and later go to San Diego.