BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers broke out the brooms Wednesday night as they completed a three game series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.  Texas played solid baseball.  They outscored the Angels 18-11 and did not commit an error.  The Rangers have now won a season high four games in a row that has moved them into third place in the American League West, just 1.5 games (one in the loss column) behind the first place Houston Astros, the team that comes to town this weekend for a three game series.

Monday night’s series opening game looked a lot like last Sunday’s series finale against Oakland.  The Angels took the early lead as they scored three runs in the first inning, and another in the third inning to lead 4-1.  Shelby Miller was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and he again did not last through the fifth inning.  He gave up the four runs on six hits and three walks.

After falling behind, the Rangers’ big bats showed up.  They scored three runs in the third inning to tie the game, four more in the fifth inning to take an 8-4 lead, and three more in the sixth inning to essentially put the game away en route to a 12-7 win.  Asdrubal Cabrera and Joey Gallo each hit their fifth home run of the season, and Shin-Soo Choo hit his first of the year as the Rangers posted 14 hits in all, six of which went for extra bases.

Kyle Dowdy relieved Miller and allowed a run in 2-2/3rds innings to qualify for the win.  Kyle Bird followed Dowdy to the mound.  He gave up two runs in the eighth inning, and loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning by hitting a batter and walking two more.  That turned the game into a save opportunity, and Ranger manager Chris Woodward called on closer Jose LeClerc for the final out.  He coaxed a ground out to short stop that ended the game.

Dowdy earned the win.  He’s 1-0.  Leclerc was credited with his fourth save.  Los Angeles reliever Cam Bedrosian was the losing pitcher.  He’s 1-1.

Tuesday night’s story was starting pitcher Mike Minor.  He threw a complete game shutout, and received home run support from team leaders Cabrera and Gallo, who both hit their sixth of the year, as the Rangers won 5-0.

First pitch strikes are always good to throw.  Minor faced 30 batters and threw first pitch strikes to 24 of them.  He retired 23 of those batters.  He gave up three hits and walked two batters.  His record improved to 2-1 with the win.  The Angels’ Jaime Barria started and was charged with the loss after he gave up four runs in five innings.  He’s 1-1.

On Wednesday, Lance Lynn struggled early giving up single runs in the second and third innings to put the Angels ahead 2-0.  Lynn did right the ship to pitch into the sixth inning, giving up just the two runs on seven hits and three walks.  He struck out two batters and threw 102 pitches.  Lynn has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his four starts.

Two Angels’ fielding errors in the fourth inning put a run on the scoreboard for Texas.  An inning later, the Rangers took charge of the game.  The first three batters singled to tie the game at 2-2.  Choo then drove home a pair of runs with a triple and later scored on Danny Santana’s double to put the Rangers in front 5-2.

Chris Martin gave up a run in the eighth inning, and Leclerc gave up another before closing out the Angels in the ninth inning to make the final score 5-4.  Lynn is 2-1 with the win, and Mike Harvey (0-2) was charged with the loss.  Leclerc earned his fifth save.

The home stand finishes this weekend with three games against Houston.  It’s the second trip to Arlington for the Astros in this young season.  They lost two of three games to the Rangers on April 1, 2 & 3, but has lost just one game since that series.  They have taken over first place from the Mariners in the A. L. West with a 12-6 record.  The announced pitching match-ups are Justin Verlander (2-0) vs. Drew Smyly (0-1) on Friday night, Gerrit Cole (1-2) vs. Adrian Sampson (0-1) on Saturday night, and Collin McHugh (3-1) vs. Shelby Miller (0-1) on Sunday afternoon.  The night games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM, and the Sunday afternoon game’s start time is 2:05 PM.


*     Prior to Tuesday night, Mike Minor had one complete game in his career, and it was an eight inning complete game.  He had never thrown a pitch in the ninth inning as a starting pitcher until Tuesday’s shutout.  He threw 103 pitches Tuesday.

*     Lance Lynn had three walks in his first three starts of the season, but matched that total with three walks Wednesday night.

*     The rained out game last Saturday will be made up as part of a day/night doubleheader on June 8.  The makeup game will start at 1:05 PM along with the regularly scheduled game against Oakland at 8:05 PM.

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