Texas Moves Back Into Second Place.

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers won their tenth series of the season, winning three straight over the Kansas City Royals after dropping the opening game.  The Ranger starting pitchers turned in quality starts in all three wins.

The series began with a disappointing performance.  The Rangers came home from Seattle having won the final two games of that series and had their staff ace, Mike Minor, starting on Thursday.  Minor didn’t pitch one of his best games, but he was good enough to win.  The Ranger offense though just couldn’t solve Jakob Junis and three relievers, including former Ranger Jake Diekman.

The Royals won 4-2, with every run in the game coming across on four home runs.  Each team had two, and K. C.’s Jorge Soler hit the only one that wasn’t a solo home run.  His three-run knock came in the sixth inning erasing an early 1-0 Texas lead.  Shin-Soo Choo hit the first one for Texas, and Nomar Mazara hit the other one in the sixth inning.  The Rangers had just three other hits in the game.

Minor departed after giving up Soler’s three run shot in the sixth.  Jeffrey Springs relieved Minor and gave up the Royals’ other home run.  Minor fell to 5-4 with the loss.  His ERA is still a sparkling 2.74, but surprisingly, the Rangers are only 5-7 in his starts.  Junis is 4-5 with the win, and Ian Kennedy shut out the Rangers in the ninth on 11 pitches to earn his third save.

It looked like more of the same for the Ranger offense on Friday night.  Danny Duffy shut out the Rangers over the first five innings, but like Minor the night before, the sixth inning was a killer.  Danny Santana led off with a walk.  One out later he moved to third on Choo’s single.  Elvis Andrus cut the Royals’ lead to 2-1 with a single that scored Santana.  Hunter Pence beat out a dribbler fielded by Duffy between the mound and third base to load the bases, and Mazara walked to drive in the tying run.

That left the dramatics to Joey Gallo.  He didn’t disappoint.  He unloaded the bases with his first career grand slam home run.  When the smoke cleared in the sixth inning, two Rangers had walked, four got base hits, and all six scored to make the score 6-2.

That was the final score, as the Rangers collected just two hits in their other seven at-bats.  Arial Jurado pitching for the first time in the Major Leagues with his parents in attendance, was superb, giving up two runs on five hits over six innings.  He’s 2-2 with the win, while Duffy fell to 3-2 with the loss.

Texas secured a split in the series on Saturday afternoon with a 6-2 win.  It was a game that held both good news and bad news for Ranger fans.  The win pushed their record two games over .500 and moved them ahead of the Athletics back into second place.  The bad news was that Gallo left the game during an at-bat and was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with a left quad strain.

Gallo had put the Rangers on the scoreboard with a two-run home run in the fourth inning, his 17th.  Later in the inning, Jeff Mathis drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Choo doubled home another to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead.

The Royals pushed across single runs in the fifth and seventh innings, but the Rangers matched them with single runs in the sixth and eighth.

Lance Lynn pitched another outstanding game.  He lasted into the seventh inning, allowing two runs on six hits.  He earned the win to go to 7-4.  Jose Leclerc finished the seventh inning, Chris Martin held the Royals off the scoreboard in the eighth inning, despite getting touched for two hits, and Shawn Kelley blanked K. C. in the ninth in a non-save situation.

Royals starter Homer Bailey was knocked out in the Rangers four run fourth inning and took the loss to fall to 4-6.

On Sunday, Adrian Sampson was the starting pitcher after watching a reliever throw the first inning as an opener in his previous three outings.  He responded by pitching the best game of his career – seven innings, eight hits allowed, one run and no walks.  He struck out a career high 11, and won his fourth game against three losses.

On the offensive side, Guzman singled home a run in the second inning to take the early lead.  Texas added two more in the fifth inning with one scoring on a wild pitch and Nomar Mazara singling in the other.

k. C.’s Soler homered in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 3-1, but the Rangers answered with two runs in the eighth to make the final score 5-1.  Royals’ starter Brad Keller gave up three runs over seven innings to take the loss.  He’s 3-7.

Texas is three games over .500 for the first time since April 22.  They are back in second place, leading the third place Athletics by two games (three in the loss column) and trailing first place Houston by 8.5 games.

After an off day Monday, the home stand continues Tuesday with a three game series against Baltimore.  It is the start of a schedule stretch in which the Rangers play 21 games in 20 day.  The Orioles arrive with an 18-41 record, the worst in baseball.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Drew Smyly (1-3) on Tuesday, Mike Minor (5-4) on Wednesday, and Ariel Jurado (2-2) on Thursday.  All three games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM (Central).


*     Hunter Pence was selected as the Rangers’ Player of the Month for May.  He drove in 26 runs in the month to tie Chicago’s Jose Abreu for the American League lead.  Pence had stiff competition for the award from Jesse Chavez, who appeared in 13 games and completed 17-1/3rd scoreless innings.

*     When Joey Gallo was placed on the IL, Delino DeShields was recalled from AAA Nashville to take his place on the roster.

*     Sunday’s game was the third Texas win this season in which the Rangers did not hit a home run.

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