APRIL ENDS ON A DOWN NOTE

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers again failed to have a winning week as they lost two of three to both Minnesota and Los Angeles to go 2-4 for the week. The offense again proved to be the culprit as the Rangers scored just eight runs in the four losing games.

They began the week by scoring three runs in their first two games to lose the series to Minnesota. 3-2 and 8-1 were the scores.

On Monday, the Rangers scratched out runs in the second and fourth innings to take the lead. Martin Perez pitched well in five of six innings, but the other one got him. Three walks loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning, and Byron Buxton followed with a bases clearing double.

That was the game as the Rangers’ offense mustered just three base runners over the final five innings on two hits and a walk. One was erased on a double play, and the other two didn’t advance past first base.

Perez is 1-3 with the loss. Phil Hughes and three relievers polished off Texas. Hughes is 3-1 with the win and Brandon Knitzler earned his fifth save.

On Wednesday, Andrew Cashner had difficulties finding the plate. He somehow managed to keep the Twins off the scoreboard in the first inning, despite needing 29 pitches to get three outs. He ended up walking six batters in four innings. Oddly, none of them scored. He gave up just two runs, both on solo home runs.

Anthony Bass relieved in the fifth inning after Miguel Sano led off with the second home run off Cashner. Bass looked more like a batting practice pitcher than a Major League pitcher. When the fifth inning finally ended, Bass had given up six runs on seven hits, including hits to the first six batters he faced.

Joey Gallo slugged his seventh home run for the only Ranger score of the night making the final score 8-1. Ervin Santana went to 4-0 with the win, while Cashner dropped to 0-2.

The Rangers avoided a sweep on Wednesday with a rare offensive outburst. The Rangers trailed 2-0 in the fifth inning, but scored twice to tie the game. They took the lead with four more in the sixth, and they solidly sealed the deal with eight runs in the eighth inning. Ryan Rua and Shin-Soo Choo hit home runs in that eighth inning to drive home seven of the runs. Rua’s was the first grand slam of his career. 14-3 was the final score.

Cole Hamels was the beneficiary of the offensive largesse. He gave up three runs on seven hits over 6-2/3rds innings. He’s 2-0 with the win. Hector Santiago kept the score at 2-2 through five, but Taylor Rogers retired just one Ranger and gave up three runs to take the loss. He’s 1-1.

The Rangers took the day off on Thursday, and then traded 6-3 wins on Friday and Saturday. The Angels took the rubber match 5-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Friday’s game was a tight one. Yunel Escobar hit the first pitch of the game out for a home run, but the Rangers came back to tie the game at one in the bottom of the first inning.

The game stayed tied through the fifth inning, but Mike Trout broke it with a two run home run in the sixth. The Rangers again answered with a Delino DeShields single, an Elvis Andrus double, and a Mike Napoli single to tie the game at three.

Nick Martinez again turned in an impressive performance as he allowed the three runs in six innings in his second start of the year. His ERA is 2.77. Jeremy Jeffress relieved and surrendered a three run bomb to Albert Pujols.

6-3 was the final. Jeffress (0-2) took the loss, while Angels reliever Deolis Guerra (1-1) was the winner. Jose Alvarez finished off the Rangers in the ninth inning for his first career save.

On Saturday, the Rangers won by the same score. Yu Darvish was magnificent, striking out 10 batters in six innings. He gave up two runs on three hits to win his third game against two losses.

The bigger news of the day though was Carlos Gomez. He hit for the cycle with a first inning double, a third inning single, a fifth inning triple and a seventh inning home run. The home run was his fourth of the year, and he drove in three runs on the night. It was his second career cycle and the 10th in Ranger history.

Angels’ starting pitcher Jesse Chavez (2-4) took the loss.

On Sunday, Texas took the early lead with Delino Deshields leading off with a walk in the first inning. He then stole second base and scored on Carlos Gomez’s single.

The Angels tied it with a Kole Calhoun home run in the third inning and took a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning when Jefry Marte singled with the bases loaded and two outs.

Texas cut the lead to 3-2 with Shin-Soo Choo’s third home run of the year in the bottom of the fifth inning, but that was as close as the Rangers got. The Angels added single runs in the sixth and ninth innings to make the final score 6-2.

J. C. Ramirez was the Angels’ starting and winning pitcher. He struck out nine batters and allowed the two Ranger runs on four hits over 5-1/3 innings. Bud Norris struck out the final four Ranger batters of the game to bring the Ranger strikeout total to 15 for game and to earn Norris’s fifth save.

Ramirez is 3-2, while Martin Perez went to 1-4 with the loss.

The Rangers are now 11-14 and in fourth place, one-half game (one in the loss column) ahead of Seattle, and five games behind first place Houston. They did however finish the home stand at 6-4 with last weekend’s four game sweep of Kansas City.

First place Houston is the first stop on the upcoming nine-game, three city road trip. The Rangers will miss Astro ace Dallas Keuchel. It will be the first four of 19 meetings between the two Texas teams that are battling for the coveted Silver Boot trophy. The Rangers have dominated the series in recent years. They were 15-4 last season, and 13-6 in 2015 against the Spacemen.

ROSTER MOVES: On Friday, Sam Dyson was activated from the disabled list with Anthony Bass being sent to AAA Round Rock to make room on the roster. On Sunday, the Rangers claimed slick fieldning middle infielder Pete Kozma from the Yankees. He will be added to the active roster once he reports. It is likely that Jurickson Profar will be sent to AAA to make room on the active roster.

NOTABLE:

* Just one Ranger player (Odibbe McDowell in 1985) hit for the cycle in the first 32 seasons of Rangers’ baseball, but Ranger players have hit for nine cycles since 2004. By comparison, six teams have not had a player hit for a cycle since 2004, and the team with the most cycles since 2004 besides the Rangers is Arizona with four. Eight of the 10 Ranger cycles were hit in Arlington, one in Arlington Stadium and seven in Globe Life Ballpark.

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