BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers finally won their first home series of the year Wednesday, taking the rubber match in a three game series with the Detroit Tigers. They won Wednesday’s matinee in dramatic style with a 10th inning walk-off home run. Despite the series win, the Rangers completed another losing home stand winning three and losing four to Boston and Detroit.
For the second straight series, the Rangers won game one. The Ranger offense has been heavily reliant on homers to score runs, but in the series opener, two daring and aggressive running plays scored runs late to lead the Rangers to a 7-6 victory.
Matt Moore was the starting pitcher. He has been the hole in the Rangers’ rotation, and on Monday night, he did nothing to dissuade the idea. He was knocked around for nine hits and five earned runs in 5-2/3rds innings. His ERA stands at 7.71.
He departed with the Rangers trailing 5-1, but the Ranger batters promptly took him off the hook for a loss by scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game. Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit back to back doubles to drive in three runs with two outs. Kiner-Falefa then scored from second on Ronald Guzman’s infield single.
The Tigers re-took the lead in the seventh inning scoring an unearned run off Jose LeClerc. The Rangers came right back with two unearned runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh to go in front 6-5. Jurickson Profar tripled after Delino DeShields reached on an error and Shin-Soo Choo singled with two outs.
Jake Diekman and Keone Kela shutout the Tigers over the final two innings. LeClerc is 1-0 with the win and the save was Kela’s seventh of the season.
The Rangers again played from behind early in the game on Tuesday night. Mike Minor gave up six hits to the first nine batters he faced. Three of those hits were home runs, and five of those base runners scored. Minor said after the game that he was throwing the pitches where he wanted according to the game plan. At that point, he scrapped the game plan and had success.
He finished seven innings for the first time this year. He allowed just three more base runners on a hit, a hit batsman and an error.
The deficit proved too large for the Rangers to overcome. Jurickson Profar hit a solo home run, his second of the season in the fifth inning to put the Rangers on the scoreboard. Texas added another run in the sixth inning, though it was disappointing they pushed just one across. They twice had runners at first and third with one out, and scored just the once.
Alex Claudio and Kevin Jepson finished the game, and each gave up a run. Texas scored two more in the eighth inning, but Tigers’ manager Ron Gardenhire summoned his closer Shane Greene to snuff out the rally. Greene struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his seventh save. The final score was 7-4.
Minor and Tigers’ starting pitcher Mike Fiers are both 3-2 after taking the loss and earning the win respectively.
The best news on the night for Texas was the return of Adrian Beltre. He was activated from the 10-day disabled list just before game time and came up with three hits.
Wednesday afternoon’s finale was a see-saw affair. Beltre singled home a run in the first inning, but the Tigers took the lead with two runs in the third. That lead didn’t last long, as the Rangers scored two runs in their half of the third. Kiner-Falefa tripled home the first run and scored on Beltre’s sacrifice fly.
The Tigers came back with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to lead 5-4. Mazara then tied the game in the eighth inning with a home run. A scoreless ninth moved the game into extra innings. Not to worry. Mazara came to bat again and hit another home run for the walk-off win.
The Astros swept Oakland in a three game set to start the week, so Texas dropped another game in the standings to Houston. They now trail the Astros by nine games. However, they picked up two games on fourth place Oakland and are four games out of fourth place (five in the loss column).
Texas is off Thursday, and then open a three game series this weekend in Houston. The Rangers are 3-4 against the Astros in their first two series of the year. Rougned Odor is expected to be added to the active roster for the series. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Cole Hamels, Doug Fister and Matt Moore.
* The Rangers and the Yankees are the only two Major League teams that have not been shut out this season.
* The Rangers hit home runs in each game of this series to extend their home run streak to 13 games. That’s the longest home run streak in the Majors this year eclipsing the Yankees’ 12 game streak in April; and for Texas, it’s the longest home run streak since June of last season, when they homered in 14 consecutive games.
* Delino DeShields’ career high 10-game hitting streak came to an end in Monday night’s game. He still remains hot with multiple hits in seven of his last 11 games. He scored nine of the 35 runs the Rangers scored during the homestand.
* Tim Lincecum gave up two runs on two hits in his first minor league rehab appearance for Round Rock on Monday night. He threw 15 pitches and struck out two batters. This was his first appearance in a professional baseball game since September 4, 2016.