BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers are back in town for a six game home stand after their first road trip of the season – four games in Oakland. The Rangers won Thursday afternoon’s matinee finale 6-3 to gain a split in the series. Oakland hasn’t been a very good team in recent years, but the Oakland Coliseum has been a house of horrors for Texas. The Rangers had lost 10 straight games in Oakland before Tuesday’s win, and even with Thursday’s win, they have lost 11 of the last 13 played on the north side of the bay.
The bottom line is that a split in this series looks good. Thankfully for Texas, the next three series between the A’s and Rangers will be played in Arlington. Texas doesn’t return to Oakland until late August.
For the series, the Rangers activated two starting pitchers onto the roster. Bartolo Colon started the opener and threw one of the better pitched games of the young season for Texas. He scattered seven hits over six innings, one of which was a home run for the only score he allowed. The crafty veteran threw mostly fastballs, none of which cracked the 90 MPH mark. Somehow, it worked.
Unfortunately, the Ranger offense didn’t do much against Oakland starter Andrew Triggs and three relievers. They managed to plate just one run as they went 1-15 with runners in scoring position.
Kevin Jepsen followed Colon in the seventh. He retired two batters, but allowed a hit and a walk to the other two hitters he faced. They both scored to tag Jepson with the loss in the 3-1 game.
Cole Hamels ended the 10 game losing streak in the Coliseum with an unusally pitched game on Tuesday. He lasted only five innings, but struck out 11 of the 15 batters he retired. He gave up a run on four hits and three walks.
The Rangers struck for four runs in the early innings to stake Hamels to a 4-1 lead after four innings. That was the final score. Keone Kela pitched the ninth inning to record the Rangers’ first save of the season.
The Athletics dominated Wednesday’s game, winning 6-2. Ranger starter Doug Fister was knocked out in the fourth inning. He allowed five runs, but only two were earned. The Rangers mustered just four hits in the game.
Martin Perez came off the disabled list to start Thursday. He pitched into the sixth inning and was rocked for 10 hits; but he didn’t walk a batter and avoided the one big inning that has plagued his starts in recent years.
The Rangers put four runs on the board in the second inning to hand a lead to Perez. It is the most runs Texas has scored in an inning so far this season. The key play of the inning came with two men aboard. Ryan Rua successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt. Oakland pitcher Daniel Mengden fielded it and overthrew first base. Both runners scored and Rua ended up on third base, as small ball produced big results.
Perez was charged with three runs. The score stayed 4-3 going into the ninth inning, when Shin-Soo Choo homered for the second straight day. His round tripper came with a runner on base to extend the lead to 6-3. Kela again pitched the ninth for the save.
Certainly, the A’s aren’t the Astros as far as competition goes. Texas and Oakland share the bottom two spots in the division with 3-5 records after splitting the series. A split on the road is always a good result, but especially so for this year’s Rangers playing in the Oakland Coliseum.
Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels are in town for three game series before the Rangers get their first off day of the season next Thursday. Matt Moore, Mike Minor and Hamels are the starting pitchers this weekend against the Blue Jays.
* Adrian Beltre had two hits on Thursday to bring his career total to 3,055. That put him ahead of Rod Carew for the most hits by a player born in Latin America.
* Elvis Andrus struck out Thursday, his first of the season in 33 plate appearances.