BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers started the week and started a schedule stretch of 21 games in 20 days by taking two wins in three one-run games with the Baltimore Orioles. Texas lost the opening game, as they have in most of the series they have this year, but came back to win the final two for the series win.
Drew Smyly is unquestionably the hole in the Rangers’ starting rotation, and he showed why in Tuesday’s series opening game. He retired just 10 Orioles, while giving up seven runs on eight hits. That left 4-2/3rds innings for the bullpen.
The Rangers were down 5-0 after two innings and down 9-3 after four innings. David Carpenter followed Smyly to the mound in the fourth inning, making his Ranger debut. Shelby Miller and Brett Martin finished the game, and all three relievers were scored upon.
The Orioles clubbed Ranger pitchers for five home runs including three by catcher Pedro Severino. Severino now has 12 career home runs in the Majors, eight this year. Five Orioles had multi-hit games as they pounded Ranger pitchers for 15 hits.
Many of the announced crowd of 21,903 had departed when the Rangers came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 12-5. The Rangers immediately loaded the bases. The Orioles committed four errors in the game to help Texas. Included was a throwing error that put Elvis Andrus on base to start the inning. Two walks followed to load the bases and prompt a pitching change.
That didn’t stem the tide as Asdrubal Cabrera doubled and Rougned Odor singled to push three runs across the plate. Logan Forsyth followed with a double that scored two more bringing the Rangers within two at 12-10 and still no outs.
A ground out and single plated another run and put the tying run on base. However, the next two batters struck out to end the game with a 12-11 final score.
Smyly is 1-4 with the loss. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy got the win to go to 3-6. Mychal Givens, the third Orioles pitcher to appear in the ninth inning struck out the final two batters to earn his fifth save.
Wednesday’s game was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s. The teams that combined to score 23 runs on Tuesday managed just three on Wednesday. Delino DeShields beat out a slow hit ground ball for a single with one out in the first inning. Andrus followed with a double that scored DeShields.
Mike Minor was the Ranger starting pitcher. His results were good, but he wasn’t as sharp as Ranger fans have seen in other games. He thus needed a lot of pitches and managed to complete just 5-2/3rds innings.
The score was still 1-0 when Baltimore came to bat in the ninth inning. Shawn Kelley took the mound to finish off the O’s. He struck out Chris Davis to start the inning, but Richie Martin tagged him for a game tying home run. Kelley retired two of the next three batters to finish the inning.
Texas didn’t score in their half of the ninth sending the game into overtime. Jose Leclerc (two innings) and Jeffrey Springs (one inning) were perfect – nine up and nine down bringing the Rangers to bat in the bottom of the 12th with the game still tied.
Cabrera singled to start the inning. Two outs later, Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch bringing DeShields to the plate. Delino had three hits already in the game, but he made it four with a ground ball up the middle that scored Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who pinch ran for Cabrera.
Springs is 3-1 with the win. Orioles’ reliever Paul Fry is 0-3 with the loss.
In Thursday’s finale, Ariel Jurado saved the bullpen with six strong innings, giving up three runs for a quality start.
Four different Rangers each drove in a run. Hunter Pence started it by leading off the second inning with a home run. Ronald Guzman drove in another run that inning with a double giving Texas a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth inning, DeShields drove in a run with a single to right field and later scored on Danny Santana’s sacrifice fly.
Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin and Shawn Kelley blanked the Orioles over the final three innings to preserve the 4-3 win. Jurado is 3-2 with the win, and Kelley earned his seventh save. Orioles’ starter David Hess is 1-8 with the loss, but pitched well enough for a win. He completed six innings with three earned runs for a quality start.
The Rangers hold on to second place with the series win, leading third place Oakland by two games (three in the loss column) and trailing first place Houston by nine games. The Astros completed a 6-1 road trip with a 14 inning 8-7 win over Seattle Thursday to maintain their lead. Texas is also a season high four games over .500 at 32-28. Based on the current standings, the Rangers are one percentage point ahead of Boston for the second Wild Card Playoff berth.
The home stand concludes with four games this weekend against the Oakland Athletics. On Friday night, Lance Lynn (7-4) is the announced starting pitcher. The teams play a day/night doubleheader on Saturday. Game one at 1:05 PM is the makeup of the game originally scheduled April 13 that was rained out. Joe Palumbo will make his Major League debut as the starting pitcher in game one. The left-hander has started nine games for AA Frisco. He has not received any decisions, but has a 3.38 ERA.
Adrian Sampson (4-3) is the announced starting pitcher for the second game at 8:05 PM. The Rangers will honor Adrian Beltre, retiring his number 29 in ceremonies that will begin at 7:10 PM. Sunday’s game is scheduled to start at 2:05 PM, and the announced starter is Drew Smyly (1-4).
NOTE: All times for this weekend’s Ranger games are Central Daylight Time.
* Shin-Soo Choo homered in his first at-bat of the series to become the first Asian player to accumulate 200 career home runs.
* The Rangers are 22-10 at home this season, third best in the Major Leagues.