BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers swept the Oakland Athletics to start the week, their first series sweep of the season.  Texas blasted Oakland pitching for nine home runs which drove in all but two of the 15 runs they scored in the series.  Bartolo Colon was the winning pitcher in Wednesday night’s series final, notching his first win in Arlington as a Ranger and the 243rd of his career.  That tied the legendary Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for the most wins by a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic.

Jurickson Profar staked a claim for consistent playing time when Elvis Andrus returns from injury.  He homered in each game, hit three total in the series and reached a career high with five RBIs in Wednesday’s game.  That’s the most RBIs for any Ranger in a game this year.

Colon started game two of the series.  He was far from good.  He gave up two runs on six hits, and struck out just one batter; but the performance was good enough to complete five innings to qualify for the win.  He never had a clean three up, three down inning; and the A’s ran up his pitch count to 97 to oust him after five innings.  Khris Davis (who else?) homered with a runner on base in the fifth inning for all the scoreboard damage Colon allowed on the night.

The pressure on Colon was eased by the backing of his offense.  Profar and Joey Gallo hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning, Profar’s with a runner aboard, to stake Colon to an early 3-0 lead.  Profar pushed the lead to 4-0 with another home run in the third inning.  Ronald Guzman continued the home run barrage with a two run shot in the fourth inning.

The lead then was 6-0 going to the fifth inning, and 6-2 after Colon surrendered the home run to Davis.  Profar singled home two more runs in the seventh to make the final score 8-2, as four Ranger relievers kept the A’s off the scoreboard despite each of them giving up at least one hit.  Profar’s two RBIs in the seventh inning were the only two Ranger runs in the series that weren’t driven in with a home run.

Matt Moore was the Rangers’ game one starter.  He retired the first two batters of the game, and then Oakland swung the bats for two doubles and a single to take an immediate 2-0 lead.  As bad as Moore has been this season, it was easy for Ranger fans to think, “Oh no.  Here we go again”.

But surprise!  This turned into one of his two best starts of the season.  He gave up a solo home run in the fifth inning to Ranger killer Khris Davis, but that was it for scoring against Moore on this night.  He completed six innings, allowing the three runs on eight hits.

When Moore left, the Rangers trailed 3-1 with the run coming on a Robinson Chirinos home run – on his birthday no less!  Profar promptly cut the lead to one run with a solo home run in the Rangers’ half of the sixth, but the Athletics got that run back in the seventh inning with a double and a single off Alex Claudio.

The Rangers’ bats were just getting warmed up though.  Shin-Soo Choo pushed his hitting streak to 12 games, a season high for a Ranger, with a two run home run to tie the game at four.  Adrian Beltre then untied it in the eighth inning with his second home run of the year.

Two batters after Beltre’s round tripper, Gallo hit a two run blast with an exit velocity of 117 mph, the hardest hit ball by a Ranger in the Stat-cast era.

That extended the Rangers’ lead to 7-4, which was the final score when Keone Kela impressively struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth inning on 21 pitches.

With the wins over fourth place Oakland, the Rangers gained two games on getting out of the American League West cellar.  They now trail the A’s by five games in the standings, six in the loss column, and are 12.5 games behind first place Seattle.

Texas next hosts the Houston Astros for four games this weekend.  The Astros are somewhat reeling having dropped out of first place, trailing the Seattle Mariners by two games in the loss column.  The announced Ranger starters for the series are Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Mike Minor, and Matt Moore.


*     The possibility of bringing Tim Lincecum back to the Major Leagues as a Ranger vanished Tuesday afternoon when the Rangers granted him his unconditional release.  His minor league rehab assignment came to an end leaving the Rangers the option of of adding him to the Major League roster or releasing him.  Lincecum appeared in 10 games with Round Rock with a 5.68 ERA in 12-2/3rds innings.

“We didn’t feel it was the right time to bring him up here,” GM Jon Daniels told the media before Tuesday’s game.  “He threw okay, but he was inconsistent with his command.  We were not of the mindset that he was an upgrade over our relievers.”

*     Khris Davis, like Profar and Gallo, homered in each game of the series.  He has now hit 21 home runs against Texas in 45 career games.

*     The Rangers won the series despite going 2-8 with runners in scoring position.

*     Shin-Soo Choo went 0-3 in Wednesday’s game to end his 12-game hitting streak.

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