RANGERS TAKE TWO!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Ranger pitching gave up 28 runs to the Cubs in the season opening three game series, but Texas batters answered with 23 of their own – good enough to win two of three games.

Texas lost the opener 12-4.  The Rangers scored on two run home runs to start and end the scoring in the game.  In between, the Cubs put up a dozen to take the win.  It was a tightly played game early with Texas taking a 2-0 lead on Elvis Andrus’s home run in the third inning.  Javier Baez answered with a solo home in the fourth to make it a 2-1 game.

This game unraveled for Texas and starting pitcher Mike Minor in the fifth inning.  Minor hit the lead-off batter.  Two singles later, the game was tied.  A double from Mark Zagunis put the Cubs ahead 3-2.  A ground out scored another Cub run, and when Minor walked Anthony Rizzo, his day was done.

Jesse Chavez relieved, and the first batter he faced (Baez) homered to complete a six run inning making the score 7-2.  The Cubs added five more runs over the next three innings, running the score up to 12-2.

Nomar Mazara followed Hunter Pence’s two out single in the ninth inning with the Rangers’ second home run of the season to complete the scoring on the day.

The Cubs’ Jon Lester is 1-0 with the win, while Minor, who was charged with six earned runs,  is 0-1 with the loss.

Saturday night’s game was cold with a start time temperature of 51 degrees (F).  Edinson Volquez started for Texas, and again the Ranger starting pitcher did not last five innings.  Volquez threw 80 pitches to get through four innings.  The Cubs touched him for three runs in the first inning and another in the third to take a 4-3 lead into the fifth inning.

For Texas three walks and a single added up to just one run in the second inning.  A walk and a home run in the third inning scored the other two.

Former Ranger Yu Darvish was the Cubs’ starting pitcher.  He was out of the game two outs into the third inning, his shortest outing in the Majors.  He walked an embarrassingly high seven batters, while getting touched for just two hits, to depart having allowed three runs.

Jeanmar Gomez followed Volquez by giving up two more runs in the fifth inning to run the Cubs’ lead to 6-3.

The Cubs looked in control of the game going into the seventh inning still leading by three runs.  The Rangers opened the seventh inning with a single and a double to threaten to get back into the game.  Jose Quintana fanned the next two batters to bring the Cubs one out away from escaping scoreboard damage.  Shin-Soo Choo batted next.  It was his fifth plate appearance of the night, and he had struck out in the first four.

Not this time.  Choo grounded a single into center field scoring both runners and cutting the Cubs’ lead to 6-5.  The Cubs went three up and three down in their half of the eighth inning.  In the bottom half, Andrus and Nomar Mazara walked.  That set the stage for Joey Gallo.  He slammed his first home run of the season to put the Rangers ahead 8-6.

Jose Leclerc pitched the ninth for Texas, retiring three of the four Cubs’ batters he faced to earn the save.  Former Ranger Carl Edwards, Jr. (0-1) was the losing pitcher and Shawn Kelley (1-0) was credited with the win.

Sunday afternoon turned into a glorious day.  Game time temperature was 54 degrees (F), but the wind speed checked in at only six MPH, and the sun was out.  It was delightful weather, and the offenses for both teams took advantage.

The Cubs started the scoring parade by plating four runs total in the second, third and fourth innings.  The Rangers answered with Asdrubal Cabrera’s sacrifice fly in the bottom on the fourth.  Two walks followed to load the bases for Delino DeShields, who promptly unloaded the bases with a no-doubt blast into the left field seats that completed a five run inning for the Rangers putting them in the lead at 5-4 after the grand slam.

Lance Lynn was the Ranger starting pitcher and he shut out Chicago in the fifth on two fly balls and a ground out, becoming the first Ranger starter to complete five innings this year.

Lynn was not able to close out the sixth though.  He gave up a double and a single to open the inning as the Cubs tied the score at five.  Ben Zobrist later singled home another run to put the Cubs in front 6-5.  Chavez replaced Lynn with one out, and he retired no one – all three batters he faced singled.  Kyle Bird was the third pitcher of the inning.  He walked a batter, but coaxed a fly out to end the inning with Chicago leading 8-5.

The Rangers answered with a run in the sixth to cut the lead to 8-6.  In the seventh inning, Texas put together a two out rally with a single, a walk and a triple to tie the score at eight.  Cabrera followed with his second home run of the season to put the Rangers in front 10-8.

Chris Martin became the last Ranger relief pitcher to see action this year when he took the mound.  The Cubs touched him for three hits that plated two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game.  Manager Chris Woodward brought in Leclerc, his closer, to finish the eighth inning.  Leclerc also shut down Chicago in the ninth inning to bring the Rangers to bat in a tie game.

It didn’t take long for Texas to win.  Gallo led off with a double.  Choo pinch hit with a ground ball to the right side moving Gallo to third base.  Cubs reliever Pedro Strop then uncorked a wild pitch that sent Gallo across the plate with the game winning run.p making the final score 11-10.

Former Ranger Strop is 0-1 with the loss, while Leclerc is 1-0 with the win.

The Rangers’ home stand continues this week with games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against the Astros.  Houston is heavily favored to win the division, but is off to a slow start at 1-3 after starting the season with a four game series in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays.  The start time for all three games is 7:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers and Cubs combined to score 51 runs in the series, but surprisingly, neither team committed an error in the three games.

*     The Cubs are certainly a good team and a good crowd draw.  The attendance for the series totaled 131,588 (43,863 per game).

*     Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera are the two hottest hitters on the Rangers.  Andrus is 6-13 (.461) with at least one hit in each game.  Cabrera is hitting .416 (5-12), and he’s been solid defensively at third base.

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