BY: Richard W. Humphrey
Ranger manager Chris Woodward has often said that scoring first is one of the best ways to win a game. In this weekend’s series, Oakland scored first in all four games, but the Rangers came back to win twice to gain a split in the series and finish the road trip 3-7. Texas comes home with a 53-53 record that keeps them in fourth place in the American League West, 14.5 games behind the first place Astros.
Sunday’s series finale ended in a 6-5 walk-off win for Oakland. Pedro Payano was the Rangers’ starter. It was his first official start in the Majors, and he did well. He gave up a home run to Marcus Semien in the third inning, but the Rangers answered with home runs from Danny Santana and Nomar Mazara in the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
The Athletics knocked Payano out in their half of the sixth scoring three runs to take a 4-2 lead. The Rangers re-took the lead in the eighth inning with Mazara singling home a run to pull within one. Willie Calhoun then doubled home a second run to tie the game, and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the go ahead run on a ground out.
The game went to the bottom of the ninth, and surprisingly Jose Leclerc took the mound for Texas. He was pitching for the third straight day and the fourth day out of the last five. The expected pitcher in the ninth, Chris Martin, was not available with back stiffness.
Leclerc simply could not put hitters away. He gave up a single to Chris Herrmann after getting ahead in the count 1-2. He then walked Marcus Semien after getting ahead 0-2. He coaxed a fly out to short right field, but that was the only out he would record. A single tied the game. Two walks, the first intentional, followed to drive home the game winner.
Leclerc is the losing pitcher going to 1-3. He was also charged with his third blown save. Blake Treinen is 4-3 with the win.
In Thursday’s opening game, Ariel Jurado was touched for three runs in the first inning, giving up a bases loaded single and a sacrifice fly. The Athletics had just two hits in the inning, but Jurado aided their cause with a pair of walks.
From there, Jurado was brilliant. He finished with six scoreless innings after the first, allowing just one more hit to earn a quality start.
The Rangers finally cracked the scoreboard with five runs in the fifth inning to take the lead. Four of the first five Rangers singled to bring home a run and load the bases. A double, a sacrifice fly and another single brought home four more runs.
Texas iced the game an inning later by scoring five more runs. Shin-Soo Choo brought home the first run of the inning with a bases loaded single. Santana followed with a grand slam home run.
Santana was the offensive star of the game, finishing with three hits in five at bats and a career high six RBIs. Cabrera singled home another run in the seventh inning to make the final score 11-3.
Jurado is 6-6 with the win. Oakland starting pitcher Brett Anderson fell to 9-6 with the loss.
Friday night’s game had a similar flow. Ranger starter Lance Lynn gave up single runs in the first and third innings. Texas then cracked the scoreboard in the fourth inning, taking the lead with a pair of two-out run scoring doubles followed by a single.
Cabrera singled following two walks in the sixth inning to drive in another run that extended the Rangers’ lead to 4-2. Calhoun homered in the eighth inning to cap the Rangers’ scoring on the night.
Lynn finished six innings, allowing the two runs on four hits. Jesse Chavez, Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin shut down the A’s on one hit over the final three innings, as the Rangers won 5-2.
Lynn is 13-6 with the win, while Martin earned his fourth save. Oakland’s Daniel Mengden was the losing pitcher, falling to 5-2.
Saturday, Adrian Sampson started and gave up five runs on six hits. Four of the hits were home runs that drove in Oakland’s scores. The Rangers pulled close by pushing four runs across in the seventh inning, which ended with Elvis Andrus getting thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single. A strong throw by Chad Pinder cut down Andrus at the plate to snuff out the rally.
Saturday’s game was marred by a benches clearing ruckus in the eighth inning. The causative action was Ramon Laureano getting hit by a pitch from Rafael Montero. Laureano had earlier hit a home run, and was slow heading to run the bases as he admired the flight of the ball. Sampson took issue with that, and the two started jawing at each other.
The eighth inning hit by pitch smacked of a payback. Woodward and Montero were both ejected.
The final score was 5-4 as neither team scored in the eighth and ninth innings. Sampson is 6-8 with the loss. Oakland’s Homer Bailey got the win after allowing three runs in 6-2/3rds innings. He’s 9-7. Liam Hendricks closed out Texas in the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.
The Rangers are off Monday before opening a five game home stand. Seattle arrives first for two games. Ariel Jurado (6-6) will start Tuesday, and Mike Minor (8-6) will start Wednesday if he’s still a member of the team. Minor’s turn in the rotation actually comes before Jurado’s, but Woodward decided to switch the order because of the speculation that Minor might be traded before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM (Central).
* After Thursday’s game, Elvis Andrus took a red eye flight back to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area where he was sworn in as a U. S. citizen at the Irving U. S. Citizenship and Immigration office on Friday morning. He was back in Oakland for Friday night’s game.
* The deadline for making trades is at 3:00 PM (Central) this Wednesday.
* Danny Santana hit his 15th home run of the season Sunday afternoon, his second home run of the series. Prior to this year, the most he had hit in a season was seven in 2014, and he had hit just 13 home runs total in his Major League career.