BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers routed the Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon 18-4 to take the rubber game of this weekend’s three game series. The Rangers’ offense came alive Sunday to set a team record for extra base hits in a game and shredded Minnesota pitching for the biggest scoring inning at Globe Life Ballpark in five years to finish the week 2-3.
The announced Rangers’ starting pitcher for Sunday went from TBD on Thursday, to Bartolo Colon on Friday and finally to Yohander Mendez on Saturday. Mendez was recalled from AAA Round Rock to make the start. He somewhat surprisingly turned in a sterling performance, completing six shutout innings on three hits. He was helped by some outstanding defensive plays and hard hit balls going right at fielders, but that could have been a product of the fast pace Mendez set on the mound.
The Rangers handed Mendez a two run lead in the first inning, thanks to an Elvis Andrus home run. They added a third run in the fifth inning. The sixth was when they broke it open though, as they plated nine runs. Robinson Chirinos, Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar hit home runs to push six of the nine runs across.
The Twins finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings with two runs in each off Eddie Butler in relief of Mendez. The Rangers kept scoring though adding one run in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth inning to push their final tally to 18.
The Rangers had eight home runs in the game and 13 extra base hits overall, which set a new team record.
Mendez is 1-1 with the win; and despite the score, Butler earned his second save by completing the final three innings of the game.
When the epitath of this season’s last place Ranger finish is written, the main cause will be the starting pitching. The Texas Rangers came into the weekend with the worst starting pitching ERA in baseball, and Friday night’s series opener eptomized the season.
Jurickson Profar doubled home two runs with two outs in the third inning. Nomar Mazara capped a four run fourth with a home run with two runners on base. They thus presented Ranger starter Drew Hutchison with a 6-0 lead.
Going into play this weekend, there had been 118 games in which a team held a six run lead at some point. Those teams had lost only three of those games. The Rangers made it four, as Hutchison couldn’t hold the lead. Minnesota scored 10 unanswered runs to take the lead for good.
The Twins knocked Hutchison out of the box in the fifth with four straight hits to start the inning. They all scored. Matt Moore relieved, and he allowed four more runs before retiring the side. The Twins added two more runs off Alex Claudio in the seventh inning, and Adrian Beltre drove in the final Ranger run in the ninth inning for a 10-7 Minnesota win.
Moore is 3-7, 7.27 with the loss. Hutchison’s ERA rose to 6.75.
On Saturday, Yovani Gallardo started; and when Gallardo pitches, the Rangers usually score runs. On this night, they pushed seven across. Gallardo gave up three runs in five innings to move his ERA to 5.97. His record however went to 8-3 with the win, when five Ranger relievers allowed just one more run for a 7-4 Ranger win.
Rougned Odor, Mazara, Adrian Beltre and Ronald Guzman each hit a home run for Texas.
The calendar flipped to September with just one Ranger getting traded on August 31. Reliever Cory Gearrin went to Oakland for two lower level pitchers that have been groomed so far to be starters. There was apparently little interest in Shin-Soo Choo and Beltre.
The Los Angeles Angels come to Arlington Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to complete this eight game home stand. It will be the Halos’ second trip to Arlington in just a little over two weeks.
On Monday night, the Rangers will become the sixth team to employ an “opener”, a relief pitcher that starts the game. Ariel Jurado is the pitcher that otherwise would be the starting pitcher Monday, and will follow Jeffrey Springs to the mound, probably in the second inning. The idea is for the starting pitcher to avoid the top three or four hitters in the opponents’ batting order having them face a hard throwing reliever instead.
Mike Minor is the announced starting pitcher for Texas on Tuesday, and TBD is the announced starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game. It’s possible that the Rangers will again use an “opener” Wednesday.
* Jose Leclerc was named the Rangers’ Player of the Month for August. Leclerc was tagged for just one hit in the 10 scoreless innings that he pitched. He earned seven saves in seven opportunities in the month.
* Adrian Beltre hit a home run in Saturday’s game to pass Robin Yount and take sole possession of 17th place on the all time hit list. He’s up to 3,144 hits after singling on Sunday, and next on the list is Paul Waner with 3,152 hits.
* Saturday night’s win was number 420 for Jeff Banister giving him sole possession of fourth place on the Rangers’ all-time managerial win list. He had been tied with Buck Showalter, and now trails Johnny Oates, Bobby Valentine and Ron Washington.
* Former Ranger catcher Chris Gimenez started at first base for the Twins Sunday and was used as a pitcher late in the game. He homered Sunday, becoming the second pitcher to hit a home run in Globe Life Ballpark.