BY: Richard W. Humphrey
It was another disappointing week as the Rangers went 2-5 against the Indians and White Sox. The road trip looked promising when they took two of three from the Yankees to kick it off, but Texas finished at 4-6.
The source of the disappointment will undoubtedly be the story of this year’s team at the end of the season – the bullpen. The Rangers saw three large and/or late leads dissipate, turning wins into losses. The bullpen stats for the road trip were a 1-4 record, two saves in six chances, 6.67 ERA. The blown saves bring the Ranger total to the year to 17 out of 30 opportunities, a measly 43% cnversion rate.
The week began in Cleveland, where the Tribe took three of four games. This series finished the regular season games between these two teams with Cleveland dominating with six wins in seven games.
Cleveland’s pitching surrendered nine home runs but little else. 13 of the 14 runs the Rangers scored in the series were driven in by home runs. The Tribe kept the Rangers off the scoreboard by the strikeout weapon. Texas batters reached double digit strikeout totals in three of the four games. 55 of the 108 outs Cleveland recorded in the series were strikeouts.
The series began with the most disappointing loss of the season for the Rangers. It looked so promising early when the first four batters for Texas scored, the last three on Adrian Beltre’s home run. The Rangers added three more runs in the second inning and two more in the fourth to hold a 9-2 lead.
Cole Hamels was making his first start since April, and it was obvious from the beginning that he didn’t have his good stuff. Command was a problem. His first pitch was a strike, and then he threw nine consecutive balls. The third batter singled to load the bases with no outs. Hamels was able to get out of the inning with only one Cleveland run scoring.
The Tribe scratched out another run in the third, while their starting pitcher was getting chased. Carlos Carrasco lasted into the fourth inning and allowed eight of the nine Ranger runs.
After the top of the fourth though, the game belonged to the Indians. They pushed across a third run in the bottom of the fourth, and then the roof caved in on Hamels in the fifth. He retired just one of the five batters he faced. The other four scored, as Cleveland drew to within two runs at 9-7 with all seven runs charged to Hamels.
Dario Alvarez gave up a walk and a single to allow the three runners he inherited to score, but oddly, he was the only Ranger pitcher on the night that did not allow a run.
The sixth inning was worse. Tanner Schepprs began the inning, but retired no one. He walked a batter and gave up two singles to the three batters he faced. They all scored. Alex Claudio finished the inning, but not before the Indians had scored two more runs to take a 12-9 lead. Cleveland struck for three more runs off Preston Claiborne, making his Ranger debut. By week’s end, Scheppers and Claiborne were no longer Rangers.
15-9 was the final score. Scheppers took the loss. He’s 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA. Alex Claudio was charged with his second blown save.
Tuesday’s game was the antithesis of Monday’s. Starting pitchers Tyson Ross and Mike Clevinger were excellent. They turned in identical lines of six innings pitched, allowing one run on two hits. A walk, stolen base and single to the first two Indian batters of the second inning caused the scoreboard damage to Ross and gave Cleveland the early lead. Robinson Chirinos’ 11th home run in the fifth inning tied the game.
Seventh and eighth inning relievers for both teams didn’t allow a hit, much less a run. The game was still tied at one when the ninth inning began. Both teams garnered a hit. The Ranger hit was Adrian Beltre’s 450th career home run. The Indian’s was a single,and that runner was stranded.
2-1 was the final score. Keone Kela finished the eighth inning to earn the win. Matt Bush polished off the Tribe in the ninth to earn his 10th save.
The Rangers’ offense fizzled in the last two games of the series. Yu Darvish gave up three runs to take the loss in Wednesday’s 5-3 affair, while Andrew Cashner was knocked around for five runs in five innings to take the loss in Thursday’s 5-1 game.
On Friday, the Rangers suffered their second demoralizing loss of the week. They scored four runs in the sixth inning to take a 7-2 lead, and got within two outs of a win before the White Sox rallied for three ninth inning runs to win 8-7. Matt Bush pitched the ninth getting tagged with his sixth blown save and fourth loss.
The Rangers got their second win of the week on Saturday at the expense of former Ranger Derek Holland. Holland gave up five runs in 5-1/3rd innings to take his eighth loss against five wins. Four White Sox relievers gave up another five runs.
Cole Hamels was the beneficiary of the offensive largesse in the 10-4 Ranger win. He got off to a rough start, but finished by retiring the final 19 batters he faced. He’s 3-0 with the win.
The week closed out like it began with another ugly bullpen meltdown. Texas took a 5-4 lead to the eighth inning. Todd Frazier tagged Jose LeClerc for a two run home run with two outs as the Sox took a 6-5 lead. The Rangers loaded the bases in the ninth inning before Carlos Gomez struck out to end the game.
The Rangers are now back home for three games with Boston beginning on Monday night, and three games with the L. A. Angels to finish up the so called first half of the season before the All-Star break. Thursday’s off day will be the Rangers’ first after playing 20 consecutive days.
The Rangers actually hit the mathematical halfway point in Saturday’s game. Their record is now 40-42, and they are in fourth place in the West trailing first place Houston by 15.5 games, a season high. Eight teams after the three division leaders are in the running for two Wild Card spots. The Rangers are the worst of those, but only two games out.
* Yu Darvish was named to the American League All-Star team. It was his fourth time to be an All-Star, more than any other Ranger pitcher.
* Elvis Andrus is on the five player ballot for the final roster spot on the the team. He’s going to need a ton of support from Ranger fans to win because two of the other candidates are shortstop from big market teams – Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and New York’s Didi Gregorius.
* Joey Gallo leads the Rangers with 21 home runs, and was invited to participate in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game. He chose not to accept the invitation.
* Elvis Andrus has had remarkable success against the Indians in his career, success that continued this past week. He went 7-16 in the four games which brings his career batting average against Cleveland to .372. He has at least one hit in 58 of 64 games.
* Prior to Monday’s game, the Indians honored Mike Napoli, who played for Cleveland last year. Cleveland’s manager Terry Francona presented Napoli with his World Series ring.