BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers have been one of the best home teams in baseball winning 10 of their first 14 home games this year. This week though, they returned from a West Coast road trip on a two game winnng streak, and promptly dipped below .500 by getting swept in a two-game series by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The highlight of the series was Adrian Sampson’s Tuesday night start. He continues to stake a claim to being this team’s number three starter behind Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. He fell an out short of earning a quality start as he completed 5-2/3rds scoreless innings. Sampson gave up five hits, struck out five batters and walked no one. His ERA is down to 3.58.
Asdrubal Cabrera supported Sampson with a two run single in the fourth inning. Joey Gallo, the Rangers’ Player of the month for March-April, walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead going to the ninth inning.
Sampson’s first Major League win was just three outs away as closer Jose Leclerc took the mound to start the ninth. A double, single and single opened the inning to score a run and left runners at first and third.
Leclerc struck out the next two batters to put the Rangers one out away from the win. Josh Bell was the next hitter. Bell is a graduate of Dallas Jesuit High School, and he tormented the team he grew up loving with a double that scored both runners to tie the game.
Neither team scored in the 10th inning. The Pirates struck for a pair of home runs in the 11th with a batter reaching base on an error in between. In the bottom half of the 11th, Gallo hit his 10th home run to become the first Ranger ever to hit 10 home runs before May 1. It was too little, as three of the next four batters made outs to end the game.
The final score was 6-4. Jesse Chavez (0-1) was the losing pitcher, and Kyle Crick (1-1) was Pittsburgh’s winning pitcher. Felipe Vazquez nabbed his seventh save.
In Wednesday’s matinee, the Rangers scored first as Danny Santana doubled home a run in the second inning. The lead lasted until the fourth inning when the Pirates struck for four runs. A single and two walks loaded the bases. Melky Cabrera’s single scored a run to tie the game at one. Bryan Reynolds then cleared the bases with a double to give the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish.
The fourth inning ended Ranger starter Shelby Miller’s day. He finished with four earned runs charged in 3-1/3rd innings on four hits, two walks and three strikeouts. His ERA ballooned to 7.99.
The Pirates put two more runs on the board in the seventh, while the Rangers answered with one in the sixth and two in the seventh to make the score 6-5. Kyle Dowdy was charged with the two seventh inning runs and one more in the eighth, while the Rangers failed to score in the eighth and ninth innings.
The final score was 7-5. Miller took the loss to go to 1-2, and Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was the winning pitcher. He’s 2-3. Vasquez again earned the save, his eighth, after tossing a scoreless ninth inning.
The Rangers are 14-15 for the season, but still in third place three games behind first place Houston. The Angels and Athletics also have 14 wins, but have more losses to trail Texas in the American League West.
Texas is off again Thursday and then host the Toronto Blue Jays in a three game series this weekend. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (3-2) on Friday, Lance Lynn (3-2) on Saturday, and Drew Smyly (0-2) on Sunday. Start times are 7:05 PM (Central) on Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 PM on Sunday.
* A Ranger starting pitcher has thrown five innings or more in only 12 of the 29 games. Eight of those 12 starts were turned in by Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.