BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Texas Rangers’ stretch of 20 games in 20 days, the most allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the Player’s Union came to an end Sunday with a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. Texas lost two of three in the series, finished the week with a 3-4 record, and finished the 20 game stretch at 9-11.
The Rangers offense struggled mightily this weekend. They managed to score just four runs in the three games, and amazingly won one. The win came Saturday night, one of the strangest games of the season.
Shin-Soo Choo singled on the first pitch of the game. He was later erased on a double play. Texas managed to push across an unearned run in the seventh inning, when Choo reached on an error leading off the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on two ground outs.
When the ninth inning rolled around, the Rangers still had just one hit, and the Angels led 2-1 on the strength of home runs from Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler. Choo led off with a strikeout, but Jurickson Profar doubled. A wild pitch moved Profar to third base and Nomar Mazara walked to put runners at first and third base with one out.
That set the stage for one of the strangest plays of the season. Adrian Beltre flew out to deep left field, which should have easily tied the game. Profar did tag up at third and headed for home. However, Carlos Tocci, who pinch ran for Mazara, also tagged up at first base. Left fielder Justin Upton made a strong throw to second base after the catch. It was good enough to nip Tocci sliding into second base.
Home plate umpire C. B. Buckner initially ruled that the out was recorded at second base prior to Profar crossing the plate. Hence, Profar’s run didn’t count, and the Angels had a win. However, video review overturned the call. Tocci was out at second, but Profar did score before the completion of the double play; so his run counted.
The Angels didn’t score in the ninth, so the game went to extra innings tied at two. Ronald Guzman drove home Rougned Odor from second base with a single to short left field and two outs in the Rangers’ half of the 10th inning. Odor ran hard and made an excellent slide to avoid the tag to score on a very close play.
Keone Kela blanked the Angels in the bottom of the 10th for his 13th save in as many opportunities. Jake Diekman pitched the scoreless ninth inning to be the pitcher of record for the win. Not to be forgotten are the seven solid innings Ranger starter Cole Hamels tossed to keep the game within striking distance when the ninth inning rolled around. He gave up five hits, with the only scoreboard damage coming on the two home runs.
On Friday night, the Rangers couldn’t solve Angels’ starter Jaime Barria. He shut out the Rangers over the first six innings on four hits. Four relievers completed the whitewashing.
Ranger starter Bartolo Colon was knocked around pretty good, giving up six runs on eight hits in three innings. Thankfully, Jesse Chavez bailed out the bullpen by finishing the game for the Rangers with five shutout innings. 6-0 was the final score. Colon is 2-3 with the loss.
In the series finale, Doug Fister pitched a fine game for Texas, but got no help from the offense. Fister gave up three runs on four hits over six innings. Alex Claudio shut down the Halos in the seventh and eighth innings, but all the Rangers could put on the scoreboard was a single run on Mazara’s 14th home run in the eighth inning. Fister is 1-6 with the loss.
The week started with a split of a four game series in Seattle.
The series opener on Memorial Day was a tightly played game, well pitched by both teams. Odor bobbled a ground ball such that an inning ending double play in the sixth inning did not get turned. The Mariners then scored two runs, their only scores on the night.
Odor had daringly run the bases, stealing third base to set up a Rangers’ score on a passed ball in the third inning. That was all the scoring on the night. 2-1 was the final score. The Rangers had very few scoring chances, and didn’t capitalize on any of them, going 0-3 with runners in scoring position. They managed just five hits in the game, all singles.
The Rangers came back to win the next two days, 9-5 on Tuesday and 7-6 on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Mariners scored three in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead, with the Rangers’ run coming from a Choo home run. The M’s extended the lead to 4-2 on a Nelson Cruz home run in the fourth inning.
It was still 4-2 in the sixth inning when the Rangers loaded the bases on a double, a single and a walk. Improbably, the Rangers scored two runs to tie the game on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Guzman then gave the Rangers their first lead of the game with a single that scored Joey Gallo from third base making the score 5-4.
Seattle pushed across an eighth inning run off Chris Martin to tie the game at five. The Rangers promptly loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, and Odor just as promptly unloaded them with a double. Guzman followed with another double to push the score to 9-5.
Alex Claudio (4-2) in relief was the winning pitcher, and Keone Kela blanked Seattle in the ninth in a non’save situation to make 9-5 the final score.
Matt Moore came off the disabled list to start Wednesday’s game for Texas. He pitched into the sixth inning, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits.
The Texas offense rallied with a pair of runs in the fourth inning with RBI hits from Profar and Gallo. Profar scored again in the sixth on a Robinson Chirinos’ single to bring the Rangers within a run at 4-3, but the Mariners matched the run in their half of the sixth.
In the seventh inning though, the Rangers took the lead for good. Mazara singled home two runs to tie the game at five. Chirinos followed later in the inning with a two run double to put the Rangers ahead 7-5.
Kela gave up a run in the ninth on two hits, but earned the save. Tony Barnette was the winning pitcher. He’s 1-0.
The Rangers had a chance to win the series on Thursday, but it didn’t happen. Mike Minor started for Texas and gave up five runs, four of which were earned. Mazara homered in the fourth inning for the Rangers’ only score. 6-1 was the final, and Miner fell to 4-4 with the loss.
The Rangers enjoyed their first off day in three weeks Monday. They are back home for six games in Arlington this week, starting with two against Oakland. The announced starting pitchers are Matt Moore on Tuesday and Bartolo Colon on Wednesday.
* Adrian Beltre was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday in Seattle, started that night as the Ranger designated hitter, and went 2-4 at the plate.
* The MLB Amateur Draft began Monday night. The Rangers had two picks on Monday, taking Cole Winn, a right handed pitcher from Orange Lutheran High School in California with their first round pick, the 15th overall selection in the draft. In the second round (55th overall selection), Texas took Owen White a right handed pitcher from Jesse Carson High School in North Carolina. The Rangers were especially pleased with both picks. The Rangers as well as many other draft predictors had Winn as a top 10 talent in this draft. Texas was surprised he was available at 15. Bleacher Report gave the Rangers grades of “A” and “A+” respectively for the selections.