BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Houston Astros romped and stomped on the Rangers in this week’s three game series, outscoring Texas 37-7. The scores were 11-2, 14-3 and 12-2, marking the first time in Ranger history that the team has allowed 11 or more runs in three consecutive games. The first two Astro wins eliminated the Rangers from playoff contention.
The three game sweep sends the Silver Boot trophy back to Houston for the first time since 2007, as Houston finished the season series leading the Rangers 12-7. The game three loss was the season high sixth in a row and the 82nd of the year, assuring the Rangers of a losing season for the first time since 2014 and for only the second time since 2009.
Make no mistake about it, this is a beat up Ranger team at season’s end. Adrian Beltre has been playing through a hamstring issue, while Mike Napoli has been unable to play through a stress reaction in his lower right leg. Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos are among the others that have also been dealing with injuries.
And on top of that, the pitching hasn’t been very good. Nick Martinez was the only starter to go five innings in the series. The starters combined to throw 11-2/3rds innings allowing 18 earned runs, a 13.89 ERA. But then again, the relievers were charged with 19 runs in the series.
Making the playoffs was essentially out of the question after the Rangers went 2-5 on their last home stand. They deserve credit though for playing hard all the way until they were mathematically eliminated.
The series sweep brought the Astros win total to 98, tying their second best win total ever. They have four games this weekend against Boston and still have a chance to catch Cleveland for the best record in the A. L. Cleveland is one game ahead.
Texas has four games remaining in the season, all with Oakland starting Thursday. With the playoffs out the window, Ranger manager Jeff Banister indicated Adrian Beltre will be shut down for the season. Willie Calhoun, the best prospect the Rangers received in the Yu Darvish trade was in Wednesday’s starting lineup and went 2-3. Included was his first Major League home run. He likely will start all four remaining games.
The Rangers need to win one game in the series to save the embarassment of finishing in last place. On the other hand, that might not be all bad. If they lose all four this weekend, they could be drafting as high as ninth in next June’s amateur draft.
As for the playoffs, there is little drama left. Nine teams have claimed a playoff spot. In the American League those five are Houston, Cleveland, Boston, New York and Minnesota. The Yankees trail the Red Sox by three games with four to play, so they have the possibility of overtaking the Red Sox for the East Division championship. Houston and Cleveland are set as division champions, while Minnesota is the second Wild Card and will be the visiting team in either New York or Boston for the play-in game next Tuesday.
In the National League, the division champions are Los Angeles in the West, Chicago in the Central and Washington in the East. Arizona has wrapped up the number one Wild Card berth and will host the play-in game next Wednesday. Colorado is their likely opponent, but Milwaukee and St. Louis have not mathematically been eliminated from overtaking the Rockies.
* The fan that caught Willie Calhoun’s home run ball received an autographed bat and cap from Adrian Beltre in exchange for the ball. Calhoun said he would give the ball to his father.
* Delino DeShields hit his first career inside the park home run in Wednesday’s game. It was the third inside the parker this season at Globe Life Park. It is the first season in which more than one inside the park home run has been hit at Globe Life Park.
* Possible Milestones: Elvis Andrus needs to score one run to reach 100 for the season for the first time in his career. He goes into the weekend with a .299 average after going 2-4 Thursday, so could easily finish at .300 for the second straight year. Nomar Mazara needs three RBIs to get to 100.