BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – This weekend, the Texas Rangers won their first series since June 25-27 when they swept the Detroit Tigers in three games. The previous series win was also a three game sweep of the Tigers, such that the Rangers completed the season with a 6-0 record against the Bengals. The woeful Tigers are just 3-19 at this point against American League West teams and have the worst record in the A. L. at 32-75, a winning percentage of .299.
Friday night, Texas opened with a 5-4 win. Texas built a 5-1 lead after seven innings as they scored single runs in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. The Rangers had 12 hits in the game including home runs from Rougned Odor and Hunter Pence.
Meanwhile, Lance Lynn, the work horse of the pitching staff, threw seven innings of one run ball. He gave up just four hits and struck out 10.
Jesse Chavez threw the eighth inning. He gave up a one out double and single to bring the score to 5-2.
With Chris Martin traded and Shawn Kelley on the injured list, manager Chris Woodward turned to Jose Leclerc for the ninth inning and the save. Leclerc walked the leadoff batter, always a bad sign. He retired the next two batters, but the third out didn’t come easy. The next two batters singled to make the score 5-3 with runners at first and second. Another walk loaded the bases, and a wild pitch scored the Tigers’ fourth run. However, Leclerc coaxed a ground ball out to secure the 5-4 win.
Lynn is 14-6 with the win. Leclerc has his sixth save. Tigers’ starter Tyler Alexander took the loss to go to 0-2.
The Rangers put a new look to Saturday’s starting lineup against the Tigers’ best starting pitcher – left-hander Matt Boyd. Isiah Kiner-Falefa was on third base, and Jose Trevino made his 2019 Major League debut behind the plate. Scott Heineman was in right field, and Willie Calhoun was in left field selected over left-handed hitting outfielders Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo.
Adrian Sampson was hit hard early, but managed to give up just two runs over the first four innings on a two-run shot by Miguel Cabrera. Trevino singled home a run in the third inning, and Calhoun homered in the fourth to tie the game.
However Sampson ran into trouble in the fifth inning giving up a single, a double and another single with two outs to put the Tigers back in front 4-2.
Trevino reached second base on a fielding error to open the Rangers’ seventh inning. He later scored on Delino DeShields’ double. DeShields advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a short fly ball to right field. It was a close play at home and safe to say that DeShields is the only Ranger fast enough to score on that fly ball.
The game stayed tied into extra innings when Odor ended it with a 10th inning home run, his 20th on the season. Leclerc had pitched a perfect top half of the 10th to earn the win. He’s 2-3. Detroit reliever Nick Ramirez gave up Odor’s round tripper to take the loss. He’s 5-4.
Texas completed the sweep on Sunday with four pitchers that were not on the opening day roster, or even given much consideration to be part of it. Pedro Payano started and gave up three runs over 4-1/3rd innings.
Emmanuel Clase made his Major League debut relieving Payano. He finished the fifth and pitched the sixth inning giving up no hits or runs.
Brett Martin started the seventh inning, and the Tigers nicked him for an unearned run to tie the game at four. Rafael Montero finished the seventh as well as the eighth and ninth innings. He got the win to go to 1-0 when the Rangers scored four runs in their half of the seventh inning. Willie Calhoun’s bases loaded triple, Calhoun’s first in the Majors, broke the game open.
Texas added an insurance run in the eighth inning to make the final score 9-4.
Texas has moved past Los Angeles into third place in the West. They are two games ahead of the Angels, but trail second place Oakland by 6.5 games. The Rangers are seven games behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card berth, with Oakland and Boston also ahead of them.
The Rangers take their four-game winning streak to Cleveland for a three game series beginning Monday night. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (9-6) on Monday, Ariel Jurado (6-6) on Tuesday, and Lance Lynn (14-6) on Wednesday. The first two games start at 6:10 CDT, while Wednesday’s getaway game begins at 12:10 CDT.
* Emmanuel Clase hit 101 on the radar gun with his fastball Sunday, becoming the first pitcher to crack triple digits this year.