BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers beat Seattle Wednesday night to avoid a series sweep and end a four game losing streak. Texas started the series well scoring two runs in each of the first two innings of game one, but Seattle came back with six runs late to win 6-4 overcoming Cole Hamels’ starting effort.
In game two, the Rangers trailed twice by five runs – 5-0 and 8-3, but their late rally fell short. Seattle won 8-7 despite three Ranger home runs. In both games one and two, there was shoddy Ranger defense that helped Seattle to the wins.
Texas came back with a 5-1 win in game three behind Andrew Cashner’s strong start to stop the bleeding.
The offense has been all or nothing for most of the season. It was no different in this series. The Rangers hit eight home runs driving in 13 of the 16 runs scored. Joey Gallo led the way with three round trippers.
The big story this week though was Monday’s 3:00 PM (CDT) non-waiver trade deadline. The Rangers traded Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for three prospects. The trade was actually consumated just minutes before the deadline, and word that Darvish was a Dodger didn’t hit the Twitter universe until 3:13.
The question of whether Darvish would be traded had hung over the team for more than a week. Both Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus openly pleaded through the media for Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels to believe in this team. They wanted the core to stay together and hopefully get bullpen help at the deadline.
However, the team has bobbed around near the .500 mark virtually all season. The chance to win the American League West division vanished long ago as Houston sprinted out to the best record in the A. L. After Wednesday’s games, they held a 10.5 game lead (11 in the loss column) over Boston for the A. L.’s best record.
However after Houston, no A. L. team is having a great year, such that there are good races for the East and Central division championships, and a host of eight to ten teams still harbor realistic chances of grabbing one of the two Wild Card playoff berths. The Rangers are in the back of that pack.
And that’s exactly the problem the Rangers faced as the deadline approached. They kept looking for a spark on the field to make the playoff opportunity more feasible. Alternatively (and less desireably) a losing streak that materially lessened if not extinguished their chances of making the playoffs would doom their playoff chances. Either way would define the Rangers’ course at the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, neither scenario happened. They opened the post-All-Star break portion of the schedule with a 5-5 road trip. However, after losing two series at home last week, the Rangers set out to trade their asset that would bring the largest return – Yu Darvish.
At least the Rangers thought he was their most valuable trade asset. The Rangers’ found considerably less of a market than they anticipated. The Dodgers were thought to be the favorite to land Darvish; and in the end, they did. But they gave up far less than anticipated. They obtained the most dominant starting pitcher available at the trade deadline without having to part with any of their top three minor league prospects.
Texas settled for Willie Calhoun, a solid hitter, but a player without a position. Calhoun is 5′-8″ with a stocky body. He has a weak arm and isn’t fast. The Dodgers played him at second base where he committed 43 errors over the last two seasons, but the Rangers plan to groom him as an outfielder. He is likely to be with the Rangers for a September audition when the rosters expand.
The other two prospects Texas received were right-handed pitcher A. J. Alexy and infielder Brandon Davis. Both are raw talents in the lower minor leagues. They have the athleticism to make it big if they make it.
Calhoun was assigned to AAA Round Rock while Alexy and Davis joined low A Hickory.
Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Astros made offers early and late in the process for Darvish that they believe were better than what the Rangers accepted. The Rangers disagreed and took the Dodgers’ package instead. Most national writers think the Dodgers got the best end of this deal; though for sure, the Rangers received a larger return for Darvish than if they had held on to him for the balance of the season and ended up with draft choice compensation in next June’s amateur draft when Darvish signed elsewhere in free agency.
Texas also traded starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Colorado for a player to be named later and sent reliever Jeremy Jeffress back to Milwaukee for reliever Tayler Scott. Scott was assigned to AAA Round Rock.
There was clearly disappointment among Ranger players at the trade deadline. Jeff Banister says they still can make the playoffs as a Wild Card, but the team played some lackluster baseball after the trades. Actions speak louder than words. Trading the team’s best pitcher and starting catcher is more telling about management’s thoughts on the team than anything Banister can say.
Adrian Beltre in particular is questioning the entire direction of the club and the possibility exists that he may request a trade this winter to a contender. With just a year or two left in his career, and no World Series championship on his ledger, he is not interested in being part of a rebuilding team.
Texas is now in fourth place in the A. L. West at 51-56. They are 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card playoff spot, one of nine teams that are within five games. The Ranger problem is not so much 4.5 games; it’s nine teams.
The Rangers left immediately after Wednesday’s game for four games in Minnesota. The road trip concludes next week with Tuesday and Wednesday games against the Mets in New York.
* The Rangers did not make an error in Wednesday’s win over Seattle to end a streak of four straight games with at least one error committed. They committed 11 errors in all. That’s the most in a four game stretch since 1982.
* Joey Gallo had three multi-home run games in the nine game home stand that ended Wednesday. Rougned Odor leads the Rangers with four multi-home run games this year, and the Rangers are one of just seven teams with more than one player having multi-home run games.
* Yu Darvish is scheduled to make his first start for the Dodgers against the Mets this Friday. His familiar number 11 is already assigned, so he will wear number 21 for Los Angeles.