SUPER RANGER SUNDAY

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Sunday was one of the best days in Ranger history. On the field in Arlington, third baseman Adrian Beltre became the 31st player in Major League history to reach 3,000 career hits. Meanwhile, 1,600 miles away in Cooperstown, New York, the mythical birthplace of baseball, Ivan Rodriguez was enshrined into MLB’s Hall of Fame.

Rodriguez was one of five new members added to the Hall. Former Commissioner of baseball Bud Selig and noted executive for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves John Schuerholz joined Rodriguez and two other players – Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell as the new enshrinees.

Rodriguez gave a fine 30 minute acceptance speech, which was the best of the day. He at times spoke in Spanish to recognize his home in Puerto Rico. He cracked some good jokes at the expense of former teammante Nolan Ryan. He recognized many that contributed to his life and career, such as his hitting coach for most of his tenure in Texas, Rudy Jaramillo.

He introduced his kids, wife, brother, mother and father. His devotion to his family was moving. He recognized managers that he played for most notably Johnny Oates, Jack McKeon and Jim Leyland, who he predicted would also get enshrined in Cooperstown some day.

He became so emotional at times that he paused to compose himself. Rodriguez has never been great with the English language, but on this Sunday, he spoke well. He flashed his electric smile. He was in a word – magnificent.

Sometime in the next decade, Adrian Beltre will also spend a Sunday afternoon in late July making a similar speech. He grounded out in the second inning on Sunday, but came back in the fourth to double sharply down the left field line on a 3-0 pitch from Wade Miley.

The game was immediately stopped to honor him. Not only did his teammates and coaches flood out of the dugout, but his family joined him on the field. A sign on the right field wall honoring the accomplishment was unveiled.

He is the first player from the Dominican Republic to reach 3,000 hits, which ties him with Roberto Clemente on the all time list. Al Kaline is next at 3,007. Beltre should move up the list to around 22nd place by season’s end barring injury.

The news on the field wasn’t so good. The Rangers lost Sunday 10-6 to lose the series with Baltimore two games to one and finish the week at 2-4. The Rangers played a fine game Friday night, scoring early and coasting in for an 8-2 victory. On Saturday though, the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman shut down Texas and was one out shy of a complete game shutout as Baltimore won 4-0.

Texas is 7-9 in the two plus weeks since the All-Star break. Sadly, that includes a 2-8 record against teams with losing records.

Clearly, when play resumed after the All-Star break, the Rangers were looking for a push to close the gap in the Wild Card race. Instead, they finished the week four games under .500 at 50-54. They trail Houston by 18 games in the West, and have fallen 5.5 games behind for the second Wild Card berth. They are tied with Baltimore as the last two teams in an eight team pack with a realistic chance of claiming a Wild Card playoff spot.

As the performance on the field fizzled after the All-Star break, the team acknowledged that they were in serious trade discussions with teams about Yu Darvish and fully expected to deal him by Monday’s 3:00 PM (CDT) non-waiver trade deadline. The leading candidates appear to be the Dodgers, perhaps the Yankees, and a third mystery team. However, the offers have been notably disappointing, and no deal looks close with just hours until the deadline.

Perhaps the trade of of Darvish won’t happen after all. There is interest on both sides for Darvish to sign a contract extension to stay in Texas. Perhaps he doesn’t get traded today and an extension gets worked out. Texas however believes they will have a chance to re-sign him even if he is traded.

The Rangers did complete a trade of catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado for a player to be named later. Lucroy is unquestionably a huge disappointment this year. The Rangers paid a premium to obtain him near last year’s trade deadline, and he was a definite plus over the balance of the season, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 31.

This year though, his game has deteriorated in every area. Offensively, he has hit just four home runs and driven in 27 in four months. His pitch calling is suspect, and stats show his pitch framing has fallen off the charts.

Robinson Chirinos takes over as the starting catcher, and Brett Nicholas is now the backup.

There have been inquiries about Andrew Cashner, but the Rangers are showing little interest in moving him. Mike Napoli could also be a candidate to get traded. Carlos Gomez is eligible to be a free agent this winter, but there is virtually no speculation that he’ll be traded.

On the relief pitcher side, the Rangers seem amenable to a deal for Jeremy Jeffress,and there is even speculation that Keone Kela could be available. Kela is a surprise as he has an electric arm and three years of contract control after this season.

The current home stand finishes this week with three games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Seattle. The Mariners are one of the teams in front of Texas in the Wild Card race. If the Rangers are going to make a charge for the playoffs, this week would be a good time to start.

COCKTAIL CONVERSATION: The Fort Worth Zoo named their new male giraffe “Beltre” to honor Adrian Beltre’s 3,000 career hit accomplishment.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers finished the season series at 1-6 against Baltimore.

* Adrian Beltre has more career hits (3,000), home runs (454) and RBIs (1,607) than any of the three players inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame Sunday.

* The Rangers wore a special game patch in their right sleeve and special socks this weekend to honor Ivan Rodriguez ‘s induction into the Hall of Fame.

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