ANOTHER WINNING WEEK

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers ended their 10-game home stand on a downer, losing 3-2 to the White Sox Sunday afternoon. The win earned a split in the four game series for Chicago. The Rangers finished the week at 5-2 and finished the home stand at 7-3. Texas lost a chance to pick up a game in the standings on West Division leader Houston, which lost to Oakland Sunday. In the Wild Card race, the Rangers lost a game falling 2.5 games behind the second wild card slot.

The series opening game on Thursday looked a lot like the last two of the Detroit series that started the week. Chicago took the early lead with a run in the first and three more in the third inning. The offense came back to save the day, with four runs in the third and four more in the fifth inning to seemingly take charge of the game at 8-5.

But the bullpen has been and continues to be scary. Matt Bush looked strong to start the seventh inning with a strikeout and pop out. His performance turned south from there as the next three batters singled, tripled and doubled to cut the lead to 8-7.

The Rangers answered by getting a run back in their half of the seventh inning on three walks and a single, all with two outs. The insurance run proved to be vital.

Alex Claudio came on for the six out save. Claudio has struggled of late. He was fine in the eighth inning, setting the Pale Hose down in order. In the ninth though, Jose Abreu led off with a home run that brought the Sox to within one at 9-8. Tyler Saladino followed with a single to put the tying run on base, but Claudio stiffened to retire the next three batters and earn his sixth save.

It was another disappointing start for Tony Ross and brings into question as to whether Ross will remain in the rotation. He failed to complete five innings, allowing five runs on five hits. Pitch command was a big problem – he walked six batters. Austin Bibens-Dirkx relieved and retired the five batters he faced to earn the win.

Offensively, it was a big day for Nomar Mazara. One of his two hits was a home run, and he drove in five runs. Reserve catcher Brett Nicholas also homered with a man aboard.

The four game winning streak came to an end on Friday. Andrew Cashner pitched well, certainly better than the four previous starters, but the offense simply couldn’t make it happen. Cashner gave up three runs in 5-2/3rds innings, though one was unearned. The offense created opportunitites to score, but couldn’t get the big hit. They were 0-7 with runners in scoring position. Mike Napoli hit a two run home run and scored from third on a ground out to account for the Rangers’ three runs.

The deciding play came in the eighth inning with the score tied at three. Nicky Delmonico hit a fly to right field that looked catchable to Nomar Mazara. Mazara however crashed into the fence attempting to secure the out. He missed, and he dropped to the ground in pain. Delmonico circled the bases as the ball caromed off the fence and bounded back toward the infield.

Mazara stayed in the game, but was examined afterward. He has no structural damage, and played the next two games. 4-3 was Friday’s final score.

Saturday’s game followed the pattern of the games earlier in the week. Martin Perez was tagged for five first inning runs. Not to worry. The offense came back to bat around and score six runs in both the third and fourth innings. That gave Texas a commanding 13-5 lead. 17-7 was the final score, as Texas blasted four home runs – two from Rougned Odor, and one each from Mike Napoli and Shin-Soo Choo. Perez completed six innings, despite needing 40 pitches to get through that wretched first inning. He’s 8-10 with the win.

On Sunday, the offense again struggled. That’s been the frustration of the offense all season – inconsistency. After scoring a season high 17 runs on Saturday, they managed just two Sunday both coming on a Rougned Odor home run with two outs in the ninth inning. They created the opportunities, but failed to cash in. Twice they loaded the bases with one out and didn’t score. They were 2-12 with runners in scoring position.

A. J. Griffin turned in an acceptable start – three earned runs on six hits over five innings. Tony Barnette continued his amazing second half with two scoreless innings following Griffin.

Matt Bush took the mound to start the eighth inning. With one out and the infield in a severe shift for a left handed batter, a short pop was put in play to land near third base. Third baseman Joey Gallo was shifted into the shortstop position and had a long run to catch the pop. Bush, a former shortstop, had the best shot at catching it, and he did. However, Bush and Gallo collided after the catch. Both had to leave the game, and neither made the trip to Anaheim after the game with the team. Both will be examined on Monday and hopefully will be cleared to play.

3-2 was the final score as the Rangers’ record fell to 11-21 in one run games.

The Rangers are back on the road and back into divisional play. They embark on their sixth three city road trip starting Monday with a four game set against the Angels. Oakland and Houston for three games each follow. Every game is big now, but the Angels are ahead of Texas in the Wild Card race, so wins in Anaheim are also losses against a team the Rangers are chasing.

NOTABLE:

* On Saturday, the Rangers set a season high for runs scored (17), hits (20), extra base hits (eight) and total bases (36).

* Rougned Odor had his fifth multi-home run game on Saturday. That’s the most in the American League and trails Giancarlo Stanton (eight) and Cody Bellinger (six) for the Major League lead. Also on Saturday, Odor and Mike Napoli Napoli became the third pair of teammates to each drive in five or more runs in a game this year.

* Delino DeShields has started eight straight games batting leadoff and is hitting .375 in that span.

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