BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers fought the elements and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to win this weekend’s series three games to one. The final two games experienced rain delays that totalled three hours and 40 minutes. With the series win, the Rangers turned in a 4-2 week, and have a 15-14 record since the All-Star break.
The series began with one of the most entertaining games of the season on Thursday. It didn’t start well for the Rangers as the first five batters of the game rapped singles and ultimately scored to put Texas in a 5-0 hole before even coming to bat The Rangers answered with a Nomar Mazara two run home run in the bottom of the first inning to keep it close. Mazara was seeing his first action in August as he was activated from the disabled list before the game.
The teams exchanged solo home runs in the second inning with the Angels’ coming from the bat of kole Calhoun and the Rangers from Joey Gallo.
Amazingly, Ranger starting pitcher Ariel Jurado was able to complete six innings with no further damage.
Los Angeles threatened in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases to start the inning with two singles and a walk. It was clearly an opportunity to blow the game open; but instead, the Rangers closed out the Angels with a triple play. A line shot down the third base line was fielded by Jurickson Profar on the short hop. There was confusion as to whether he caught the ball in the air that worked in the Rangers’ favor. Profar stepped on third base to force out the runner coming from second base, tagged the runner on third base for the second out, and threw to second base in plenty of time to force out the runner coming from first base.
Profar homered in the sixth inning to bring the Rangers within two at 6-4. Matt Moore relieved Jurado and shut down the Angels in the seventh and eighth innings, remarkably doing so on just 16 pitches.
That brought the Rangers to bat in the eighth inning still trailing by two. The Angels sent out Justin Anderson to start the inning, the seventh Angel pitcher of the night, as this was a bullpen game for Los Angeles.
A walk, hit by pitch and a double bumped the score to 6-5 with runners on second and third and no outs. Another walk loaded the bases, but the Angels had a chance to get out of the inning with the lead when the next two Rangers struck out.
However, Shin-Soo Choo coaxed a walk to force in the tying run. That ended Anderson’s night on the mound. Omar Morales replaced him. The inning appeared to be over when Rougned Odor grounded out to second on a close play. Ranger Manager Jeff Banister called for a replay, which showed that Odor was clearly safe. The call was reversed and the Rangers led 7-6. Morales then uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Robinson Chirinos to score from third on a nifty slide that eluded the tag.
The Rangers took the 8-6 lead to the ninth, and Jose Leclerc made that the final score when he put down Los Angeles for his third save.
Friday night, it was the Rangers that struck with an early five run inning. In the second inning, Gallo doubled home the first two runs and then scored on a groundout. Four straight singles scored the final two runs to put the Rangers in front 5-1.
Like the Angels on Thursday night, the Rangers added another run later in the game. Carlos Tocci scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.
Unlike the Angels on Thursday night, Texas made the six runs stand up for a win. Drew Hutchison moved up a day to start the game after Mike Minor was scratched with back stiffness. Hutchison scrambled through five innings, allowing two runs on five hits to earn the win, his first with the Rangers. He’s 2-2 for the season.
Four relievers pitched an inning apiece to finish the game. Leclerc took the ninth and was even better than Thursday night. He struck out the side on 16 pitches to earn his fourth save.
The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for almost 2-1/2 hours because of rain. It finally got started after 9:30 local time. Martin Perez was the Ranger starting pitcher, moving up from his scheduled Sunday start. He again disappointed. The only good part of his performance was that he was able to complete six innings, giving up six runs on nine hits.
The Rangers came back to tie the game at six, but the Angels struck for five runs in the seventh inning off Eddie Butler. Three singles to the first three batters Butler faced sent the first run home. Shohei Ohtani then pinch hit and homered to put the Los Angeles ahead 10-6. Butler also gave up another home run to Taylor Ward, who had made his Major League debut earlier in the week.
Texas added a run in the seventh inning to make the final score 11-7. Butler is 2-3 with the loss.
The Rangers got off to a good start Sunday, retiring the Angels in the top of the first thanks to a strikeout/throw-out double play. In their half of the inning, Choo doubled and Odor singled for a quick 1-0 lead.
The Angels answered back in the fourth inning, rallying for two runs. That was all the scoreboard damage the Angels would do on this afternoon. Yovani Gallardo started and finished six innings, allowing just the two runs on six hits. It was the Rangers’ first quality start since August 3.
Matt Moore relieved Gallardo and pitched a scoreless seventh inning. The score was still 2-1 when the Rangers came to bat. Drew Robinson and Choo singled with one out. Odor followed with his 15th home run to put the Rangers in the lead 4-2.
The second rain delay of the day ensued, but when play resumed, Cory Gearrin shut down the Angels in the eighth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Leclerc wrapped up the ninth inning with just eight pitches to earn his third save in the series and his fifth of the season. Moore is 3-6 with the win
The Rangers now go to the city by the bay for the next week. They begin with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday games against the A’s, and after an off day on Thursday, they complete the week with inter-league play against the Giants over the weekend. Bartolo Colon is the announced starting pitcher for Texas on Monday, though there is some doubt that he’ll be physically able to make the start after getting skipped on Sunday with back stiffness. The rotation is up in the air for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games.
* Elvis Andrus went 0-4 in Thursday night’s series opening game to end his home hitting streak at 24 games. He did however walk in the game, walk again in Friday’s game, and get hits in Saturday’s and Sunday’s game to extend his home on-base streak to 38 games.
* Since the trade of Keone Kela to the Pirates, Jose Leclerc has save five games in five opportunities. He has a scoreless streak of 10 innings in which he has struck out 15 batters and walked just one. Opposing batters are hitting 3-32 against him in that span.