BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas started the week by taking two wins in their three game series with the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers dropped game one, but came back to win the final two to win their second straight series and complete a 5-2 home stand.
The series was especially costly to Seattle. The Mariners were once solidly in the second Wild Card slot and challenging Houston for the division championship. Now they have slipped into third place in the division trailing Oakland by three games for the second Wild Card spot and first place Houston by eight games. Clearly, the Mariners looked like the team going through the motions at the end of a losing season instead of the Rangers.
The series began with a delightful game. Martin Perez pitched well. He gave up 10 hits in seven innings, but held the Mariners to three runs for a quality start.
Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc pitched even better. LeBlanc has been struggling and his hold on a spot at the back of the Mariners’ rotation is tenuous. On Monday night, he was terrific. With one out in the seventh inning, he gave up the second Ranger hit of the game, an Elvis Andrus single. Seattle manager Scott Servais surprisingly took him out at that point, despite a pitch count of just 82 pitches.
The strategy backfired, as the next two pitchers Servais summoned from the bullpen failed to retire a batter, and the Rangers tied the game at three with two singles and a bases loaded hit by pitch driving in the runs.
From that point, both bullpens were sharp. The game went into extra innings with the Mariners finally pushing across a run in the 12th inning. Seattle closer Edwin Diaz is having an All-Star year, and he got the job done in the bottom of the 12th. He allowed two singles to put the tying run in scoring position, and the winning run on base with one out; but he settled in to get a Willie Calhoun pop in foul territory and a Shin-Soo Choo strikeout to end the game.
Eddy Butler (2-2, and 1-1 with Texas) took the loss.
Game two turned into an historic night. Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter, and weathered giving up three early runs to complete seven innings. The Rangers’ offense came to life with four runs in the third inning to take the lead they never gave up. They added seven more runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to make the final score 11-4.
Texas got home runs from Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre. Odor and Profar were especially damaging to the Mariners driving in four and three runs respectively.
The big story though was Colon. The win was the 246th of his career moving him past Nicaraguan Dennis Martinez for the most wins by a pitcher born in Latin America. For the season, Colon improved to 6-10.
On Wednesday, Yovani Gallardo started for Texas; and when Gallardo pitches, the Rangers score runs. On this day, the Rangers again plated 11 runs led by Joey Gallo’s two home runs. They were his 30th and 31st of the season, to reach the 30 home run plateau for the second year in a row.
Gallardo held the Mariners to two runs on three hits over six innings for the win. The Mariners however didn’t roll over and play dead. Alex Claudio, Cory Gearrin and Eddy Butler finished off the game, and Seattle scored off each of them to make the final score 11-7. Gallardo is 7-1 with the win.
After the game, Texas flew to New York for four games with the Yankees this weekend. The announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Thursday, Mike Minor on Friday, Drew Hutchison on Saturday and Martin Perez on Sunday. The first two games begin at 6:05 PM Central and the last two games begin at 12:05 PM Central. Texas leads the season series over New York two games to one.
* Rougned Odor was named American League “Player of the Week” on Monday for the week ending August 5. He hit .304 with four home runs and 10 RBIs last week. It was his second time in three weeks since the All-Star break to win the award. Those are the only two times that a Ranger player has won the award this season, and is the eighth time that a Ranger player has won the award in two different weeks during a season. Odor has won the award four times in his career, second most for a Ranger to Rafael Palmeiro, who was A. L. Player of the Week five times.
* Elvis Andrus had hits in all three games to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. That is his career high and ties the longest hitting streak in the Majors this season.
* In Round Rock on Thursday night, Nomar Mazara will begin his minor league rehab assignment, and the recently signed Chris Tillman will make his debut in the Rangers’ system as the Express’s starting pitcher.
* The cap that Bartolo Colon wore Tuesday night when he won his record breaking 246th win was sent to the Hall of Fame.
* The Rangers have scored in double digits in six games since the All-Star break, the most in baseball.