BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Texas Rangers mathematically avoided a 100 loss season by taking two of three games from the San Diego Padres this weekend. Texas won the first two games, and were within three outs of a sweep before losing game three. The two wins assure that 98 losses will be the most the Rangers can lose this season.
Texas won 4-0 to open the series Friday night. Jurickson Profar showed that he has become a backbone of the Rangers’ offense, as he was involved in every scoring play. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Profar singled home Nomar Mazara. In the seventh inning, he slugged a two run home run, his 17th of the season. In between, Profar scored on a groundout fielders choice in the fifth inning. In total, he was 3-4, with three RBIs and two runs scored.
The Rangers employed the “opener” to start the game. Connor Sadzeck got the Padres out in the first inning walking one, but facing just three batters thanks to a double play. Yohander Mendez then put his best foot forward in a bid to become part of the Rangers’ 2019 starting rotation. He followed Sadzeck with five shutout innings on three hits. Jeffrey Springs and Jose Leclerc finished off the Padres over the final third of the game.
Adrian Beltre had two hits in the game to take over 15th place on the all-time hit list as he passed George Brett. Beltre now has the most career hits of any Major League player that played third base for a majority of their careers.
Mendez is 2-1 with the win, and the performance dropped his ERA to a respectable 3.86.
The Rangers again used an opener in Saturday’s game. Alex Claudio started, gave up a hit, but finished the first inning without a Padre score. Ariel Jurado followed, allowing three runs in four innings on two hits and two walks. The outing raised his ERA above 7.00 at 7.01, but amazingly, he became the winning pitcher when the Rangers rallied for five runs in the sixth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit.
Joey Gallo had homered in the second inning for the Ranger run. The Rangers sixth inning scoring explosion began with the bases loaded and two outs. Robinson Chirinos doubled home all three runners to take the 4-3 lead. He then scored on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s double, who later scored on Shin-Soo Choo’s single.
That was all the scoring on the night, as the Rangers won 6-3. Jurado is 3-5 with the win and Leclerc collected his 11th save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
On Sunday, the Rangers looked poised to complete the sweep. Mike Minor, clearly the Rangers’ best starting pitcher, gave up two runs in 6-1/3rd innings. He also doubled in his final at bat for the first hit this season by a Ranger pitcher.
Willie Calhoun and Profar homered in the second and third innings, and Chirinos singled home a third run in the sixth. The Rangers threatened, but didn’t score again as they twice left the bases loaded.
It was still 3-2 going to the ninth. After pitching Friday and Saturday, Leclerc was not available. Jeffrey Springs got the save opportunity. He retired the first batter he faced, but a soft pop dropped in short right field, and a double singled home the runner to tie the game.
A flyout brought the Rangers to within an out of sending the game to extra innings. Springs pitched carefully to the next two hitters and walked them both to load the bases. Francisco Mejia then hit a grand slam home run to win the game 7-4. Springs is 0-1 with the loss
The Rangers have 13 games remaining in the season. The first six are in Arlington starting Monday night when the Tampa Bay Rays are in town. The Rays took two of three games this weekend from Oakland to trail the A’s by six games for the second Wild Card berth. Their chances of making the playoffs are slim; but they have a chance, so the games in Arlington this week are extremely important to Tampa Bay.
The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Adrian Sampson on Monday, Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday and Yohander Mendez on Wednesday. Manager Jeff Banister however may employ an opener. The first two games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM (Central), and Wednesday’s is an afternoon matinee with the first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM.
* The Rangers finished with a 4-2 record against San Diego this year, and finished inter-league play with a 9-11 record.