TWO HOMECOMINGS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers started the week with a pair of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The D-Backs were making their first appearance in Arlington since the 2015 season, and rode into town in first place in the National League West.  The teams split the two games as they had done two weeks earlier in Phoenix.  Arizona left town still atop their division with a one game lead over Colorado and a two game lead over the Dodgers.

The trek into Arlington represented a homecoming of sorts for a pair of Diamondbacks.  Jake Diekman was traded to Arizona at the non-waiver trade deadline.  The Rangers were in fact in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks when the trade happened, such that Diekman dressed in the Rangers’ clubhouse for game one, and dressed in the D-Backs clubhouse for game two of that series.

On Monday, Chuck Morgan played a video tribute to Diekman’s time in Texas between innings.  For sure, Diekman was an integral part of the Ranger’s generally excellent bullpen over the past four seasons including the ’15 and ’16 teams that won the American League West.

When the video presentation was over, Diekman received a rousing round of applause in appreciation.  The camera focused on him in the visitors bullpen, and he gave a wave of his cap in appreciation of the cheering fans.  The camera focused in on Diekman when he was talking to fellow reliever Archie Bradley, who was also returning home.

Bradley is from the Tulsa area, but he played for the noted Dallas Mustangs youth baseball program.  Bradley was once signed to a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma University.  He broke the hearts of a lot of Sooner fans when he chose to sign with Arizona after getting drafted in the top 10 picks and getting offered a handsome seven figure signing bonus.

Bradley rounded up 36 tickets from the D-Backs allocation for friends and family. In Monday’s game however, he was not greeted warmly by the Rangers.  He entered in the eighth inning with the D-Backs trailing by a run and gave up an insurance run to Texas on two hits.

Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter Monday night.  He looked shaky in the first inning as Arizona struck for two runs on three hits, including two run scoring doubles.  He finished five innings though, giving up just one more hit, which was a run scoring single in the fifth inning.

Meanwhile the Rangers rallied.  Ronald Guzman homered in the third inning to cut the Zona lead in half at 2-1.  Robinson Chirinos put Texas into the lead with a three run home run an inning later.  Chirinos also drove in the eighth inning insurance run with a single.

Jose Leclerc earned his second save in the 5-3 win.  He zipped the D-Backs three up and three down in the ninth inning, with two strikeouts.  Colon was the winning pitcher going to 7-10 for the season.

The Diamondbacks came back to split the series with a 6-4 win on Tuesday behind a strong outing from Patrick Corbin.  Corbin is expected to be one of the best starting pitchers available on the free agent market this off season; and on Tuesday, he showed why.  He dazzled the Rangers with a superb slider and fastball that is difficult for batters to pick up coming out of his hand.

Corbin completed seven innings efficiently using fewer than 100 pitches.  He gave up three runs on six hits striking out seven and walking no one.  The win moved his total into double digits for the season.  He’s 10-4 with a 3.18 ERA.

Three relievers wrapped up the final two innings, with Brad Boxberger pitching the ninth and giving up a run for the save, his 27th this year.

Yovani Gallardo was the Ranger starter.  The Rangers have supported Gallardo with heavy run scoring to help him win seven games.  The big guns however were held in check by Corbin, and Gallardo was knocked around for four runs on six hits in just 3-1/3rd innings.  He’s 7-2 with the loss.

Jurickson Profar had another good offensive game.  He was 2-3 with a sacrifice fly, driving in two runs and scoring a third as the Rangers’ cleanup hitter.

The Rangers have Wednesday off before hosting the Los Angeles Angels for four games this weekend.  The announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Thursday, Mike Minor on Friday, Drew Hutchison on Saturday, and Martin Perez on Sunday.

Bartolo Colon will be honored prior to Saturday’s game for becoming the winningest Major League pitcher from Latin America.  The pitcher that he passed on the all time wins list is Dennis Martinez, who is scheduled to be part of the ceremony.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre scored the eighth inning insurance run Monday night, but he pulled up in pain as he crossed the plate.  The Rangers chose to wait until Thursday to see how the hamstring responds to treatment in hopes of avoiding a stay on the disabled list.

*     Texas is 6-6 in inter-league play.  Remaining interleague play includes three games in San Francisco and two in Arlington against the Dodgers this month, and three games at San Diego in September.

*     Elvis Andrus had hits in both games to run his home hitting streak to 24 games.

 

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