BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas - Sunday afternoon, the Texas Rangers were two outs away from a win in the ninth inning, but gave up a home run to send the game into extra innings. In the tenth inning, they gave up another run to stare at the strong possibility of losing their fourth straight extra inning game this season. On this Sunday though, a win to clinch the series was in the cards, as the Rangers came back with with two runs in their half of the tenth inning to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4.
The game started poorly for Texas. The first batter of the game – center fielder Harrison Bader – doubled, and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a walk. The third batter – Paul DeJong then doubled them both home to give St. Louis a 2-0 0 lead with no outs.
Amazingly, the Cards went to the ninth inning with just those two runs on the board. Shin-Soo Choo homered leading off the Ranger first inning to cut the lead in half. Hunter Pence tied the game with a run scoring double in the fourth inning. Danny Santana put the Rangers ahead 3-2 with a pinch hit home run in the eighth inning.
Chris Martin took the mound in the ninth inning hoping to earn the save. After Yadier Molina grounded out, that hope vanished as Dexter Fowler tied the game with a home run.
In the tenth inning, St. Louis went ahead by putting a run on the board in text book fashion. Bader’s lead-off double was followed with a ground out that moved Bader to third base, and he scored on DeJong’s sacrifice fly to give the Cards the 4-3 lead.
Rougned Odor got the Rangers tenth inning rally started with a lead-off single. Santana pushed him into scoring position when he worked a walk. Ranger manager Chris Woodward then went with Willie Calhoun to pinch hit. Calhoun did not disappoint. He singled to right center scoring Odor to tie the game and moving Santana to third.
An intentional walk loaded the bases, but took the bat out Choo’s hands. Logan Forsythe then struck out giving the Cardinals the opportunity to get out of the inning with a double play. Nomar Mazara didn’t comply with the plan. He hit a fly to left center, which proved deep enough to score Santana with the game winner.
Jeanmar Gomez had given up the Cardinals’ go ahead run in the tenth inning, but he was credited with the win. He’s 1-0. St. Louis’s Jordan Hicks was the losing pitcher. He’s 1-2.
The Rangers other win in the series came in Friday night’s opening game. Texas won 7-3, winning the opening game of a series for just the third time this season in 15 series.
The offense exploded for seven runs in the second inning to take control of the game early. Joey Gallo recorded two hits in the inning starting with a lead off double. He scored the first run of the inning and later singled home the seventh run. The big hit was Odor’s three run home run, and Choo also drove home two runs with his sixth home run.
The Rangers used Jose Leclerc as the opener on the mound. He was excellent. He retired the Cardinals in order in the first inning on 12 pitches, striking out two. Adrian Sampson followed and completed 5-1/3rd innnings, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits. He walked one and struck out one to earn his first Major League win. Jesse Chavez and Chris Martin finished the game, with Martin giving up a solo home run for the Cardinals’ final run.
Former Ranger Miles Mikolas was the St. Louis starting and losing pitcher. He retired just four batters as he gave up all seven Ranger runs on nine hits. He’s 4-4 with the loss.
Saturday’s game was a clunker for Texas. The start time was delayed 2:11 because of rain. The Rangers committed two errors that led to three unearned runs, but at least one error and possibly two more were saved by questionable scoring calls.
Ariel Jurado was the Ranger starting pitcher. His line of 4-1/3rd innings pitched allowing four runs, two of which were unearned, on five hits may not look good, but he pitched well. He is 1-2 with the loss, but certainly will get more chances to become a regular in the starting rotation.
St. Louis broke open a 1-0 game in the fifth inning with five runs on their way to winning 8-2. Cardinals’ starter Dakota Hudson is 3-3 with the win.
With the series win, Texas and Los Angeles are both 8.5 games behind red hot division leader Houston. The Astros had their second 10-game winning streak of the season halted with a 4-3 loss in Boston Sunday.
Another great sign for Texas in this series was Leclerc. He also pitched two innings on Sunday, retiring all six Cardinals he face, five of which were strikeouts.
The Rangers’ home stand continues with games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against Seattle. Mike Minor (4-3), Lance Lynn (5-3), and Adrian Sampson (1-3) are the announced starting pitchers for Texas. Monday’s and Tuesday’s games start at 7:05 PM. Wednesday afternoon’s getaway game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 PM.
* The Rangers now lead the American League with three pinch hit home runs. Ranger pinch hitters are 7-16 for the season.
* The Rangers announced that Josh Hamilton and former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene would be inducted into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame prior to the August 17 game. They become the 21st and 22nd members.
* The also Rangers announced that the Cardinals would face the Rangers in the first game in the new Globe Life Field. The two teams will play an exhibition game on March 23, 2020.