BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Texas Rangers this week in a three game series at Globe Life Ballpark. The Rays outscored the Rangers 16-3, but the real difference in the series was motivation. The Rays arrived on a roll with the best record in baseball since the All-Star break. They are fighting to overcome an horrific start to the season to make the playoffs. The Rays are motivated!
Meanwhile, the Rangers are embedded in last place in the West with the only question to be decided about the team’s fate is where they will pick in next summer’s amateur draft. This team is playing out the last two weeks of the season just trying to get it over with.
The Rays shut out Texas on six hits in the first two games. Tampa won 3-0 on Monday night allowing the Rangers just two infield singles. On Tuesday, the score was 4-0. All four of the Rangers’ hits went into the outfield, and one even went for extra bases. Both teams brought the offense to Wednesday afternoon’s finale with Tampa Bay winning 9-3.
Ji-Man Choi supplied the offense on Monday night. He went 2-4 with a home run, driving in two runs and scoring once. Tyler Glasnow, a pitcher the Rays received from Pittsburgh in the Chris Archer trade, won his first game as a Ray as he allowed just two infield hits over six shutout innings. Three relievers shut down Texas without a hit over the final third of the game with Sergio Romo pitching the ninth inning to earn his 22nd save.
Adrian Sampson was the Ranger starter. He’s making a case for being part of next year’s starting rotation, and Monday night, he made a good case. He lasted 5-2/3rds innings, allowing two Rays’ runs on six hits and a walk. Sampson is 0-2 with the loss.
Martin Perez had his best outing since being relegated to the bullpen going 2-2/3rds innings and yielding just one hit.
On the offensive side, Nomar Mazara and Isiah Kiner-Falefa got the two infield hits.
Tuesday night was a special night for Tampa’s Blake Snell. He doesn’t have the name recognition of Cleveland’s Cory Kluber or Boston’s Chris Sale; but on the field, he is neck and neck with them to be this season’s Cy Young Award winner. He completed five shutout innings without having his best stuff. His mechanics were a touch out of sync leading to control problems that ran his pitch count to 92 over the five innings.
However, his stuff was good enough for a win when three relievers completed the shutout. Snell became the first 20 game winner of the season, and the outing lowered his ERA to 1.97.
The Rays blasted Yovani Gallardo and five relievers for 15 hits. Surprisingly, the Rangers held them to just four runs despite the hit barrage. The Rangers turned three double plays to hold down the scoring. Willy Adames homered in the fourth inning to put the Rays on the board 2-0. The next two hitters doubled to extend the lead to 3-0, and the Rays added another run in the seventh inning.
Gallardo surrendered three runs on eight hits over the first five innings. Matt Moore gave up the fourth run. Gallardo is 8-6 with the loss.
Delino DeShields, Kiner-Falefa, Robinson Chirinos and Hanser Alberto had the Ranger hits, with Alberto knocking the double.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Rays jumped on Ranger starting pitcher Yohander Mendez early. They scored eight runs in the second, third and fourth innings to knock Mendez out of the game and pin the second loss this season on him. He’s 2-2.
On the offensive side of note, Adrian Beltre had two hits including a home run. It is the 475th of his career which moved him into a 30th place tie on the all-time home run list with Stan Musial and Willie Stargell. (Good company!)
Texas gets their final day off during the season on Thursday. They then host Seattle over the weekend to close out the home portion of the 2018 schedule. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor on Saturday and Adrian Sampson on Sunday. In Friday’s game, Connor Sadzeck will start the game as the opener, and Arield Jurado will follow as the primary pitcher.
* Matt Bush underwent elbow surgery this week. It’s not Tommy John surgery, but it will keep him out until mid-season 2019.
* Based upon the standings after Wednesday’s games, the Rangers would pick seventh in next summer’s amateur draft. Cincinnati would get the eighth pick, but they are just one-half game better than the Rangers, so Ranger fans should be rooting for the Reds to win more games over the season’s final 10 days.