BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers split four games with Cleveland to start the week, winning the games started by their top two starting pitchers – Lance Lynn and Mike Minor – an losing the other two. Texas picked up two games in the West on first place Houston as the Astros lost their first four games of the week. They cut the Astros lead to 7.5 games. In the Wild Card race, the Rangers now trail Boston by one-half game (none in the loss column) for the second Wild Card spot. Cleveland is also tied in the loss column with Boston and Texas, but is one-half game behind the Rangers. Oakland also trails Texas by one-half game, but is three games behind in the loss column.
Lance Lynn won his eighth game in Monday night’s series opening 7-2 win. He pitched seven strong innings allowing a run on six hits. He walked none and struck out nine. His eight wins are the most by a Ranger before the All-Star break since Cole Hamels went 9-2 to start 2016. He also has now made ten straight starts going at least six innings, the most such consecutive starts since Hamels finished 2015 with 12 of them.
Shin-Soo Choo doubled home a run in the third inning to get the Rangers on the scoreboard. Danny Santana homered with a runner aboard the next inning to extend the lead to 3-0. Lynn gave up a solo shot to Francisco Lindor in the fifth, but the Rangers answered in their half of the inning when Choo doubled home two more runs. Texas added two more runs in the sixth with Danny Santana scoring from second base on a wild pitch and Jeff Mathis’s run scoring single.
Jose Leclerc pitched the eighth inning and allowed a solo home run to Oscar Mercado.
Tuesday’s game was the opposite of Monday’s. The Indians never trailed and ran off with the 10-3 win. Adrian Sampson turned in the second straight bad start, getting touched for four runs in four innings. Drew Smyly relieved, and he put the game out of reach by allowing six runs, the last three coming on three consecutive seventh inning home runs.
Zack Plesac was Cleveland’s starting pitcher. If that name sounds familiar, you’re right. He’s the nephew of former Major League hurler and current MLB Network analyst, Dan Plesac. In a word, Plesac was “magnificent” Tuesday night. Rougned Odor tagged him for a home run in the fifth inning, the Rangers’ first hit of the game.
Plesac allowed just one more hit, completing seven innings. Willie Calhoun hit a two run home run in the Ranger ninth inning to complete the scoring.
Sampson is 5-4 with the loss, while Plesac is 2-2 with the win.
Wednesday’s game was almost a replay of Tuesday’s, as the Tribe won 10-4. Cleveland banged around Joe Palumbo making his second Major League start, for five first inning runs. A double play kept the Tribe off the scoreboard in the second inning, but when the first four Indians reached base to start the third inning, Palumbo’s night was over, and his ticket to AAA Nashville was punched. He was charged with seven runs in two innings to take the loss, his first Major League decision.
Jesse Chavez relieved and completed five innings in what turned out to be an audition for a spot in the starting rotation. He was named to join the rotation after the game.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Santana homered to account for 3/4ths of the Rangers’ run production. Cleveland reliever Oliver Perez earned the win to improve to 2-1.
Thursday’s series finale was hot! The official game time temperature was 91, but climbed after the 1:08 PM start time. The heat index reached triple digits. The Rangers cashed in two doubles and a triple for two runs in the first inning. Santana and Andrus scored the runs to give Minor a 2-0 lead.
Minor finished eight innings allowing just one run on three hits. The score was still 2-1 going to the bottom of the eighth inning, but Santana and Andrus extended the lead with back-to-back solo home runs.
Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth. He gave up a lead-off home run to Carlos Santana to cut the lead to 4-2. He then retired three of the next four to end the game and earn his ninth save. Minor is 7-4 with the win, and appears to be almost a certainty to make the All-Star team.
The White Sox come to Arlington to complete the home stand and the stretch of 21 games in 20 days. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Ariel Jurado (4-3) on Friday night (7:05 PM start), Lance Lynn (8-4) on Saturday (8:05 PM start), and Adrian Sampson (5-4) on Sunday afternoon (2:05 PM start). (All times are Central Daylight Time.)
* The Rangers announced that they will retire Michael Young’s number 10. Young will be honored prior to the team’s game against the Seattle Mariners on August 31.
* Drew Smyly was designated for assignment on Thursday.
* Matt Bush is pitching for AA Frisco, taking the mound for the first time since he was shut down last season. He is looking good, and Chris Woodward says he could be joining the Rangers sooner than most people expect.