BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas- Week six of the season proved to be the best week of the season so far; and when the regular season ends, that’s likely to still be true. The Rangers put together a six game winning streak to finish the week at 6-1. The streak moved them to within one game of .500 at 19-20, and swooshed them past Oakland, Seattle and Los Angeles for second place in the division. They trail first place Houston by eight games after Houston beat Miami Monday night.
The week began with a split of two games in San Diego. They were the Rangers’ first inter-league games this season, and the offensive performance was emblematic of the inconsistent offense this season. They scored a run on just two hits in the first game, and then exploded for 11 runs in game two.
Nick Martinez started game one and was knocked around for four runs in six innings. He gave up eight hits, two of which were home runs. Alex Claudio surrendered another home run to complete the Padres’ scoring. Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Rangers’ lone run. Carlos Gomez singled for the other Ranger hit. 5-1 was the final score.
On Tuesday, the offense put five spot on the board in the first inning. Nomar Mazara doubled home a pair of runs, and Ryan Rua capped off the inning with a three run home run.
A. J. Griffin took the mound staked to the early lead and said later that the runs took the pressure off. He threw a complete game shutout on 104 pitches. It was his second career shutout, and it gave the beleaguered Ranger bullpen a much needed day off. Griffin is 4-0 with the win.
The Rangers added six more runs for the 11-0 final. Joey Gallo and Robinson Chirinos drove in four of those six additional scores with two run home runs.
With the games in the National League park, Ranger pitchers batted for the first time this season and went 0-4 with four strikeouts and two walks.
The venue shifted to Arlington on Wednesday and Thursday, and began with a nicely played Ranger win. The weather was delightful. Yu Darvish pitched six innings giving up three runs, two of which scored on solo home runs.
The Rangers’ offense rallied to tie the game in the sixth inning and did so without hitting a home run. Texas scored the go ahead run in the seventh without getting a hit, and the bullpen shut down the Pads for three scoreless innings.
4-3 was the final score with Jeremy Jeffress getting the win and Matt Bush earning his second and the Rangers’ fourth save of the season.
Game two of the Arlington portion of the series looked early like a reversion to the Rangers’ losing ways. Martin Perez pitched well going into the eighth inning. He allowed just one run over the first seven innings, but left with one out in the eighth inning and the bases loaded. One of those base runners scored.
San Diego took a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the eighth as the Rangers had managed just three hits on the night. However, Mike Napoli cut the lead in half with a solo home run, setting the stage for a ninth inning remindful of last year’s come back wins.
Sam Dyson held the Padres at bay in the ninth inning leaving the Rangers a run behind at 2-1. Texas quickly tied the game with three one-out singles, and Napoli came to bat again with two runners on base. He didn’t disappoint. He hit a mammoth home run into the left field seats above the Jack Daniels Club for the 5-2 walk-off win.
It completed a two game sweep of San Diego, the Rangers’ second series sweep of the season.
The script for Friday’s game was almost identical to Thursday’s. Texas again trailed 2-1 going to the ninth inning. Both Padre runs came on solo home runs. This time it was Joey Gallo that hit the three run home run to break a 2-2 tie. His blast was down the right field line, unquestionably out of the field of play. The only question was fair or foul. The ball made it an easy call as it hit the foul pole and deflected into the right field seats. 5-2 was the final score for the second consecutive night.
On Saturday, the Rangers fashioned another come from behind win. Trailing 4-2 in the seventh inning, they put together a four run rally to take a 6-4 lead and held on for the 6-5 win. Nomar Mazara hit a two run double to break the 4-4 tie, RBIs that proved to be the game winner.
The Rangers again came back to win on Sunday. They trailed 4-2 when they came up to bat in the seventh inning. They put three runs on the board to take a 5-4 lead. Three straight two out hits drove in the runs.
Texas added an insurance run in the eighth inning for the 6-4 final score. Dario Alvarez (2-0) got the win in relief. Matt Bush continues to impress in the closer role wrapping up his fourth save in the ninth.
This week, the Rangers finish the nine game home stand with three games against Philadelphia beginning Tuesday. Next weekend, the Rangers begin another three city road trip in Detroit.
* On the injury front , Carlos Gonzalez left Sunday’s game with tightness in his hamstring. He was placed on the disabled list on Monday and is expected to be out four to six weeks. His offense has been questionable, but he has been very good defensively in center field. His loss will hurt. Most likely, Delino DeShields will shift to center field, leaving the left field playing time to Ryan Rua and a AAA call-up, which is most likely to be Jarod Hoying or Jurickson Profar.
* After Saturday’s game, the Rangers had the best starting pitching ERA in baseball at 3.36. One of the reasons is that the starters have been walking fewer batters. Texas had a streak of six games with two or fewer batters walked come to an end Sunday, when A. J. Griffin walked three. However, the streak enabled the Rangers to hand the lead in most walks allowed over to the Baltimore Orioles./em>