HOME NOT SO SWEET HOME

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers won the opening game of this weekend’s series with Boston, but the Red Sox came back to take the last three and win the series. The Rangers fall to 5-15 at home and still have not won a series in Arlington in six tries. For the season, the Rangers are 2-8-1 with the both series wins and the series split coming on the road.

This series started with a bang for Texas, at least offensively. Leading 4-3 going to the bottom of the fourth inning of Thursday’s series opening game, the Ranger offense exploded for six runs. Nomar Mazara had the big hit of the inning, a three run home run. That made it a five RBI night for Mazara, as he had earlier doubled home two runs.

The six runs in an inning were a season high. It was also the first game this season that the Rangers ran their run total into double digits, eclipsing their previous season high of eight runs in a game set earlier in the week. The Red Sox scored twice more and the Rangers added another run late for a final score of 11-5.

The blowout win was hardly expected. Boston arrived with the best record in baseball, and they sent former Cy Young Award winner David Price to the mound. Price however, has not pitched well in Globe Life Ballpark in the past, and history held true. He was charged with nine runs in 3-1/3rd innings. He wasn’t helped by his defense as two of the runs were unearned.

For the night, Boston committed three errors and gave up three earned runs. That was surprising from both ends. The Red Sox had given up two unearned runs for the season prior to Thursday’s game, and the Rangers had scored just one unearned run in their first 32 games.

Mike Minor, who played at Vanderbilt like Price, was not sharp, giving up three runs in the first four innings. However, after getting the cushion of a seven run lead, he finished with a quality start – six innings pitched and three earned runs. He’s 3-1 with the win and Price is 2-4 with the loss.

On Friday night, the teams played a home run derby game. The Rangers unfortunately hit just one of the five home runs in this game. It came off the bat of Nomar Mazara, his fourth consecutive game to hit a round tripper.

The final score was 5-1. Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colon was the starting pitcher and surrendered four home runs out of just five hits allowed. Colon doesn’t strike out many batters. Often those batted balls are turned into outs. On this night though, four of them left the park.

Manager Jeff Banister said after the game, “This is a guy (Colon) that throws strikes. Hitters know that; they come out and are aggressive.”

The Rangers were shut down by Boston starter Rick Porcello, the third former Cy Young Award winner to face the Rangers in as many nights. He gave up three hits in six innings striking out eight and walking one.

Banister also said, “…you gotta take your hat off to Porcello tonight. It looked like he had pretty much everything going for himself.”

Colon is 1-1 with the loss, while Porcello is 5-0 with the win.

Saturday’s game was one that makes a difference in a season. The Rangers got a good start from Cole Hamels. He completed six innings, allowing three runs on five hits. One of the runs was unearned. The offense supplied power, backing Hamels with three home runs. Gallo hit a pair of gargantuan solo shots, and Delino DeShields hit one with two runners aboard to tally five runs.

Texas led 5-3 going to the seventh inning, but the Sox tallied twice to tie; and in the ninth, they scored the go ahead run. The Rangers went quietly in their half of the ninth to conclude a 6-5 Red Sox win.

There was sloppy fielding and the Sox tallied a run off three of the four pitchers that relieved Hamels. Keone Kela took the loss, falling to 2-2.

On Sunday, Chris Sale started for Boston and showed why he is considered one of the top 10 pitchers in the league. He scattered four hits over seven innings, while striking out 12. He never allowed more than one base runner in an inning, and the only scoreboard damage was a solo home run off Ryan Rua’s bat. He’s 3-1 with the win.

Doug Fister was the Ranger starter and pitched well for almost six innings. The Red Sox led 2-0 with two on and two out in the sixth. Little used backup catcher Sandy Leon broke the game open with his first home run of the season. What had been a good looking stat line for Fister turned ugly. He got one out in the seventh inning and allowed another run before being relieved. The final score was 6-1, and Fister is 1-3 with the loss.

The Red Sox series win dropped the Rangers to 10 games under .500 at 13-23 to strengthen their grip on last place in the American League West. They looked like a last place team. They played shoddy defense, and their batters struck out 52 times in the series, an average of 13 per game.

The Rangers have slipped nine games behind first place Los Angeles (10 in the loss column) in the division. The fourth place Athletics however are two games over .500 at 18-16 and lead the Rangers by six games, seven in the loss column.

The home record has a good chance to improve as the home stand concludes with three games against the Detroit Tigers. Texas won five of six against the Motor City men last year. The announced Ranger starting pitchers are Matt Moore on Monday, Mike Minor on Tuesday and Bartolo Colon on Wednesday. Games times are 7:05 PM on Monday and Tuesday and 1:05 PM on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

* STREAKS: The Rangers hit at least one home run in each game of the series to extend their streak of homering in 10 straight games. That is the second longest home run streak in the Majors this season. (The Yankees had a 12 game streak in April)……Delino DeShields had at least one hit in each game of the series to extend his personal hitting streak to 10 games, a career high and the longest for any Ranger this season……Former Ranger Mitch Moreland is hitting .542 against Texas since joining the Red Sox. He was 4-7 with a home run and three RBIs in this series.

* MINOR LEAGUE REHABS: Rougned Odor began his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday at AA Frisco. He went 0-3 with a walk as the Rough Riders’ designated hitter in the first game. On Sunday, he played second base and went 1-2….Tim Lincecum begins his minor league rehab assignment Monday with AAA Round Rock.

* Joey Gallo’s first home run on Saturday was measured at 466 feet, and the exit velocity off his bat was estimated at 116.8 mph. It was the hardest hit ball by a Ranger since Statcast was introduced in 2015.

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