BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers won their fifth straight series by winning two of this weekend’s three games with the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers blasted the Sox for 29 runs, as the winning team in each game scored in double digits. Texas has now won 11 of its last 14 games.
Any suspense about the outcome of Friday night’s game perished quickly. Rougned Odor led off the second inning with a home run to get the Rangers in front 1-0. The Rangers essentially put the game into the win column when Robinson Chirinos and Nomar Mazara followed with three run home runs. Seven runs is the most the Rangers have scored in an inning this season.
Joey Gallo later hit a solo shot and Shin-Soo Choo hit a two run home run as the Rangers went on to win 11-3.
Yovani Gallardo was the pitching beneficiary of the Rangers’ offensive largesse, but he was a story himself on this night. He pitched into the eighth inning and was touched for just one run while he was in the game. The two runners on base when he exited scored to make his final line read 7-1/3rd innings pitched, three runs (earned) allowed on four hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
Gallardo looked like his career was about over when he misfired with two teams (the Brewers and Reds) earlier this season. He caught on with the Rangers to be “starting pitching depth” at AAA, and he says now the experience at Round Rock was invaluable.
AAA baseball has a pitch clock requiring pitchers to work fast. Gallardo says he benefited from working faster. “Just grab the ball and go,” Gallardo said about the pace of his pitching.
Manager Jeff Banister added, “…the tempo was great again tonight.”
Gallardo, who graduated from Trimble Tech in Ft. Worth, received a fine ovation when he left the game in the eighth. “…it was nice. It was definitely nice; that’s the kind of fans that are here,” Gallardo told the media after the game.
The final score was 11-3. Gallardo is 2-0 with the win. Despite 14 runs of offense, the official game time was just 2:47.
The Rangers blasted Chicago again by a 13-4 score on Saturday night, but there wasn’t much similarity to Friday’s game besides the score. Bartolo Colon started and struggled early giving up two runs in the second inning. At that point, pitching coach Doug Brocail took Colon into the video room to point out a mechanical flaw in his delivery. Colon adjusted and finished with five innings to qualify for a win, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Meanwhile, the Rangers’ offense came alive with five runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take the lead.
It was still just a 6-4 Ranger lead going to the bottom of the eighth inning at which point the Rangers exploded for seven runs for the second straight game. Jurickson Profar started the scoring parade with a two run double. A bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly plated two more. Elvis Andrus then tripled home two more runs, and scored on Nomar Mazara’s single.
Chris Martin set down the Sox four up and three down in the ninth to wrap up the game. Colon was the winning pitcher to even his record at 5-5 for the year. It was a meaningful win for Colon – the 245th of his career to tie Dennis Martinez for the most Major League wins by a pitcher from Latin America.
On Sunday, Cole Hamels was the Ranger starting pitcher. His performance at home verses on the road is startling. On this hot Sunday afternoon, he gave up seven runs, all earned, on nine hits in five innings. After Sunday’s game, Hamels is 1-6 in Arlington this year with a 5.83 ERA. He’s 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA on the road.
The Rangers offense was slow to respond. They pushed across two runs in the fourth inning to tie the game at two, but the White Sox answered back with five runs in the fifth to take the lead for good. Texas put three more runs on the board in the eighth inning, but Ranger relievers also gave up three runs after Hamels departed. 10-5 was the final score.
This series with the White Sox ended a stretch in the schedule where the Rangers faced five teams with losing records. After a day off on Monday, the first place Houston Astros come to town to celebrate the Fourth of July. They play Tuesday and Wednesday with fireworks scheduled after both games. These two games will be the final regular season appearance for the Astros in Arlington this year. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Mike Minor. They will face Houston’s Dallas Keuchel on Tuesday and Lance McCullers, Jr. on Wednesday.
* The Rangers finished the month of June with a 14-11 record, their first winning month since August of last season.
* Shin-Soo Choo was selected as the Rangers’ “Player of the Month” for June. He sat out Saturday’s game with a sore quad. He underwent an MRI on Saturday as a precautionary measure, but was back in the lineup Sunday. He hit a home run Friday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest by any Ranger this season. On Sunday, the hitting streak ended, but he walked in the ninth inning on a close pitch with a 3-2 count, to extend his on-base streak to 42 games, the longest in the Majors this year.