ANOTHER SPLIT

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Fenway Park has been a black hole for Ranger wins for years, but this week the Rangers turned the tables and earned a split in four games.  Texas stepped out to win first two, but couldn’t take either of the last two very winnable games for the series win.   Going into the weekend, the Rangers still hold on to second place in the American League West and to the second Wild Card berth.  The Rangers are 1.5 games (two games in the loss column) ahead of third place Oakland in the West and one game (two in the loss column) ahead of Boston for the second Wild Card.

The Rangers won Monday in the series opener, a big win.  It was their first in Boston since 2016.  Mike Minor was the Rangers’ starting pitcher.  It couldn’t have started much worse for the Rangers’ ace.  He walked the first batter and then Andrew Benintendi homered to put the Red Sox up 2-0 just seven pitches into the game.  Minor said later that he didn’t feel like he pitched well.  He commented that he couldn’t spot his fastball and wasn’t getting much from his off speed pitches.

He should have such problems more often if the results are going to match Monday night’s.  After Benintendi’s home run, he threw eight shutout innings allowing just three more hits.  When he walked off the field after the eighth inning, the Rangers trailed 2-1.

Boston’s Chris Sale completed seven innings giving up an unearned run, that was driven in by Danny Santana.  Santana singled with one out in the ninth inning.  Elvis Andrus followed with a double, and Nomar Mazara drove them both in with a single.  That gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

Shawn Kelley was manager Chris Woodward’s choice for the ninth inning save opportunity.  Kelley has had some struggles in recent outings, and Monday’s game was no exception.  He was greeted by singles from the first two batters he faced.  A ground ball double play got him one out away from the save, but Brock Holt singled to tie the game.

Neither team scored in the 10th inning.  Santana led off the 11th inning with a double, his fourth hit of the game.  Andrus followed with a ground single to center field to score what proved to be the winning run after Chris Martin set down the Carmines on 12 pitches in the bottom of the inning.

Jesse Chavez had struggled in the 10th, but got the key pitches to keep his scoreless innings streak alive.  He was credited with the win to improve to 2-1.  Martin earned his second save.

On Tuesday, the Rangers clinched a tie in the series with a 9-5 win.  Boston has a hole in their rotation, and they tried to fill it with rookie Darwinzon Hernandez.  He gave up three runs in the first three innings.

Odor doubled home a run in the second inning, and Cabrera singled home two more in the third inning.  Unfortunately, the Red Sox matched the Rangers with a home run in the second and a two run triple in the third inning.

From that point, Ranger starting pitcher Ariel Jurado toughened and shut out Boston for the next three innings.  He ended up with a quality start going six innings and allowing the three runs on five hits.

Hernandez got no one out in the fourth inning, but Colten Brewer relieved and held the damage to one run.  The Rangers extended the lead to 9-3 with two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth.  Guzman drove in the fifth inning runs.  With a run already across the plate in the sixth inning, Pence hit an inside-the-park home run with a runner on base.

Jose Leclerc gave up a run in the seventh inning, and Chris Martin gave up another in the ninth to make the final score 9-5.  Jurado is 4-2 with the win, and Hernandez is 0-1 with the loss.

Angel Hernandez is one of the worst umpires in Major League baseball.  He was behind the plate Tuesday and seemed to think he was the show.  The managers for both teams and Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi were ejected.

On Wednesday, the game was moved from the originally scheduled 7:05 PM (Eastern) start time to 4:05 PM in deference to game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs scheduled in Boston that evening.

With two outs in the first inning, the Rangers strung together three hits to score two runs.  Pence doubled home both runs off Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.  From that point, Porcello was magnificent.  He completed 6-2/3rds innings and gave up just two more hits, while walking no one.

Lance Lynn was the Ranger starting pitcher and he struggled with his control.  His pitch count was high – he needed 100 to complete six innings.  However, the results were good.  He gave up three runs on six hits for his 10th quality start of the season.

The Red Sox still led 3-2 going to the eighth inning when Pence doubled home the game tying run.  Chavez took the mound to start the bottom of the ninth inning with the game still tied.  He had not given up a run in his last 22-2/3rds innings.  It was a streak that wasn’t going to last for ever, and the Sox ended it in the ninth.  A double and a single put runners at second and third.  Two walks later, the Red Sox had the (literal) walk-off win – 4-3.

Chavez is 2-2 with the loss and Matt Barnes is 3-1 with the win.

Thursday’s game was threatened by an all day rain, but the skies cleared, and the game was played.  The Rangers opened with a four run first inning.  Andrus and Pence each drove in a run and Logan Forsythe drove in two.  Boston scored once in the bottom of the inning, but the Rangers came back with two more runs in the second inning driven in by an Andrus single.  Choo was hit by a pitch and scored in both innings.

The 6-1 lead felt good, but Boston came back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 6-4.  Adrian Sampson was the starting pitcher.  He had won his last five outings, but that streak came to an end.  He gave up solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings that tied the game and ended Sampson’s night with a no decision.

David Price was the Red Sox starting pitcher.  He was knocked out in the second inning giving up all six Ranger runs.  He was followed by seven relief pitchers who shut out the Rangers the rest of the way.  Texas certainly had their chances to score.  They left 14 runners on base after going 4-17 with runners in scoring position.

Xander Bogaerts homered in the seventh inning off Pete Fairbanks to make the final score 7-6.  Fairbanks was the losing pitcher, his first Major League decision.  Brandon Workman is 4-1 with the win, and Josh Smith earned his first Major League save by shutting out the Rangers in the ninth inning.

The Rangers finish the road trip with interleague games in Cincinnati over the weekend.  Friday’s game is the regular start for Drew Smyly, but the Rangers announced that he has been dropped from the rotation.  He goes to the bullpen and the Rangers plan to make Friday’s game a bullpen game with Chavez being the opener.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas for the rest of the series are Mike Minor (5-4) on Saturday night and Ariel Jurado (4-2) on Sunday afternoon.  Game times are 6:10 PM (Central) on Friday and Saturday and 12:10 PM (Central) on Sunday afternoon.

NOTABLE:

*     The Ranger win in the series opening game was just their sixth in series opening games this season.  This was their 22nd series.

*     The Rangers were a season high six games over .500 after Tuesday’s win.

*     Texas hit just one home run in the series, and it was inside-the-park.

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