BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Texas Rangers swept the Detroit Tigers to start the week, their first road sweep of the season. The Rangers are now a season high nine games over .500 with 45 wins at the exact mid-point of the schedule. That projects to 90 wins for the year, which looks entirely feasible, as this team continues to improve.
This week, the offense was actually somewhat anemic. The Rangers have been among the league leaders in scoring at more than five runs per game, but they plated just 12 runs in this series. They won anyway because of tremendous pitching performances by their starting pitchers. Jesse Chavez (one unearned run), Mike Minor (one earned run) and Ariel Jurado (seven shutout innings) combined to pitch 22-1/3rd innings allowing just one earned run to make the sweep possible.
The series opened Tuesday with a 5-3 Texas win. The Rangers scored early as Shin-Soo Choo, Willie Calhoun and Nomar Mazara opened the game with singles to push across the first run. Logan Forsythe plated a second run with a sacrifice fly.
Joey Gallo doubled home a run in the third inning, and Ronald Guzman drove in the final two runs with a home run and a sacrifice fly.
The real story of this game though was Chavez, making his first true start of the year. Chavez had taken the mound in the first inning as an opener, but this time he was in for as long as he could go, and he went a long way, pitching into the seventh inning. He gave up just one unearned run on five hits.
Locke St. John made his Major League debut getting the final two outs in the seventh inning. Jose Leclerc took care of the eighth inning, though he issued a pair of two out walks to run his pitch count up to 26 for the inning. Shelby Miller pitched the ninth inning, giving up a two run home run before retiring the side.
Chavez is 3-2 with the win, and Tiger starting pitcher Jordan Zimmerman took the loss to go to 0-5.
The Rangers clinched the series win with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday. Not much to say about this one. Mike Minor pitched a complete game, his second of the year. The last time a Ranger pitcher threw two complete games in a season was 2015 (Colby Lewis). Minor has done it in half a season. He went to 8-4 with the win and lowered his ERA to 2.40, which leads the league.
Matt Boyd, rumored to be one of the better pitchers available at the July 31 trade deadline, went seven innings and gave up all four Ranger runs to take the loss. He’s 5-6.
Willie Calhoun aggressively scored from second base on a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the first inning. Calhoun, Jeff Mathis and Danny Santana homered in the fifth inning to account for the rest of the Rangers’ scoring.
Joey Gallo homered twice in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. Choo drove home another run with a sacrifice fly. Ariel Jurado threw seven shutout innings. The Rangers won 3-1 while getting just five hits in the game.
Jurado is 5-3 with the win. Kelley notched his 11th save. Tigers’ starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull went to 3-8 with the loss.
The Rangers reached the exact halfway point of the season at the conclusion of the Detroit series. They are very much one of the most surprising teams in baseball at 45-36. That places them in second place in the American League West 4.5 games behind Houston and 2.5 games ahead of Oakland. It also puts them in the second Wild Card berth only one game behind Tampa Bay for the first Wild Card berth.
The road trip continues this weekend in Tampa Bay. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Lance Lynn (9-4) on Friday night, Adrian Sampson (6-4) on Saturday and Jesse Chavez (3-2) on Sunday. Game times are 7:10 PM Eastern/6:10 PM Central on Friday, 4:10 PM Eastern/3:10 PM Central on Saturday, and 1:10 PM Eastern/12:10 PM Central on Sunday.
INJURY UPDATE: Joey Gallo was activated Tuesday from the injured list and played all three games of the series going 3-9 and he walked four times. Hunter Pence was eligible to come off the IL on Thursday, but didn’t. He likely gets activated next week for the Angels series in Arlington that begins on Monday night.
* Hunter Pence was elected to the American League All-Star team as the designated hitter in the fan vote that ended Thursday afternoon. Joey Gallo was also a finalist, but did not get elected to start. He could still be named to the team as a reserve. Reserves and pitchers will be announced this Sunday. Mike Minor is likely to be selected as one of the pitchers.
* Asdrubal Cabrera was suspended by the American League and sat out the series. He was originally assessed a four game suspension for throwing equipment from the dugout toward home plate to protest the umpire’s ball/strike calls in an at bat in last week’s Cleveland series. He appealed the suspension which allowed him to play last weekend against the White Sox, but the appeal was heard Monday, the suspension was reduced from four to three games, and he was forced to sit out this week’s series with the Tigers.
* The Rangers are 12-6 in their last 18 road games.
* Manager Chris Woodward turned 43 on Thursday. He got a great present from his team – a win over the Tigers to complete the sweep.