A’s SINK RANGERS

Beltre Lost to Injury

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers closed out their six game home stand with a fine win Wednesday night. It averted a sweep by the Oakland A’s, who had won the first two games, of the series. Texas finished the homestand 2-4, losing their fifth and sixth series of the year. They have won one series and split another. Texas firmed up their grip on the American League West cellar as they are now eight games behind first place Houston and five games in the loss column behind the A’s for fourth place.

Perhaps worse than the results on the field is another significant injury. Adrian Beltre left Tuesday’s game clutching his left hamstring. An MRI on Wednesday revealed it is only a grade 1 strain. He’s expected to be out at least three weeks.

With Beltre out, the starting infield in Wednesday’s series finale was Ronald Guzman at first base, Drew Robinson at second, Jurickson Profar at shortstop and Isiah Kiner-Falefa at third. For sure, if anyone mentioned that starting infield in spring training, the listener would have thought the subject was Round Rock’s infield, not the Rangers.

Despite the makeshift lineup, the Rangers played a solid game Wednesday night. There was good defense. Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo made outstanding catches in right and left field. Delino DeShields threw out a runner at third trying to advance on a fly ball. DeShields has been much maligned defensively largely because of his weak arm, but give him credit. He has developed throwing-wise to be at least average instead of awful.

There was hitting. Joey Gallo reached four times on three hits – all singles, including a bunt against the A’s shift – and a walk. Jurickson Profar hustled a single into a double to ultimately score a much needed insurance run late in the game. Isiah Kiner-Falefa got a key hit to break a 2-2 tie.

On the pitching side, Doug Fister came off the disabled list to make the start. He labored throwing 101 pitches and failing to finish five innings. In the end though, the only scoreboard damage was a two run home to Ranger killer Khris Davis. Jesse Chavez, Alex Claudio, Chris Martin and Keone Kela shut out the A’s over the final 4-1/3rd innings.

The final score was 4-2. Chavez (1-0) earned the win, and Kela was credited with his fourth save.

The series began Monday with an interestingly played eight innings. Both teams scored in the third and fourth innings. Davis doubled home two runs in Oakland’s third inning at bat, while the Rangers answered with one run scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half. A leadoff double and single to start Oakland’s fourth inning plated a third run. Profar walked with two outs in the Rangers’ fourth, and Robinson Chirinos tied the game with a home run.

Matt Moore was the Ranger starter, and he pitched a decent game, allowing the three runs on seven hits over five innings. The game stayed tied at three until the ninth. Four Ranger relievers shut down Oakland over the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

In the ninth inning, the Athletics torched the Texas bullpen, a theme that was all too familiar on this home stand. Marcus Semien homered off Kevin Jepson to start the inning. The Rangers were an out away from escaping further damage, but it wasn’t to be. Oakland plated five more runs with a pair of triples doing most of the damage.

The Rangers pushed across a run in the ninth inning to make the final score 9-4. Jepson is 0-3 with the loss.

Cole Hamels pitched well on Tuesday, but the Ranger offense could muster just two runs. Hamels gave up single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He gave up five hits, walked two batters and struck out five. Jake Diekman, Martin and Matt Bush kept Oakland off the scoreboard after Hamels departed.

Adrian Beltre drove in both Ranger runs with a sacrifice fly in the sixth and a long single that ordinarily would have been a double in the eighth inning. Beltre only got to first clutching his left hamstring. He headed for the dugout immediately after the play ended.

3-2 was the final score, and Hamels is 1-4 with the loss.

Texas heads to Toronto this weekend, and then on to Detroit next week. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor, Bartolo Colon and Martin Perez this weekend in Canada.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers have played 20 of the first 26 games against divisional foes going 7-13. Sadly, that includes just 3-10 in Arlington.

* The Rangers are 6-1 in the seven games started by Juan Centeno at catcher.

* Texas pitchers hit four batters in Tuesday’s game and lead the Majors with 20 hit batsmen for the season.

* Wednesday’s game was just the seventh since the start of 2011 in which at least one of Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre did not start, including post season games.

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