BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Texas Rangers disappointingly dropped an old fashioned double header Wednesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland to lsoe this week’s series to the Tribe two games to one. Texas managed to score just two runs in the three games, but stellar starting pitching performances kept the Rangers in every game.
The series began with a marvelously played game that moved the Rangers’ winning streak to five games with a 1-0 win. Mike Minor pitched his best game since throwing a complete game shutout June 26, as he blanked the Indians for seven innings. Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc took care of the eighth and ninth innings to complete the shutout. Minor is 10-6 with the win, and Leclerc earned his seventh save.
Quite frankly the Rangers’ offense didn’t do much. Hats off to Indians’ starter Aaron Civali, who pitched perhaps even better than Minor. Elvis Andrus, always a difficult out when the Tribe is the opponent, got his second hit of the game in the sixth inning – a triple. He scored on a sacrifice fly on a ball hit to shallow right field. It was a close play at home, but Andrus was safe. Civali gave up the run in his six innings of work to take the loss and go to 1-1.
The good fortune ended there. The Wednesday game was rained out forcing a doubleheader on Thursday. On the surface, the rainout appeared to benefit the Rangers. They had a scheduled off day Thursday, while the Tribe opened an important four-game series on the road against the team they are chasing for the American League Central title – the Minnesota Twins.
The Rangers had Ariel Jurdado and Lance Lynn slated to be the starting pitchers in the doubleheader. The Indians decided to go with Zach Plesac in game one, but pushed Steve Clevenger a day to face the Twins, making game two of the doubleheader a bullpen game. A. J. Cole was the only Indian hurler to throw more than two innings.
Both Ranger starters did well. In game one, Jurado didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and completed seven innings. The only scoreboard damage was a home run off the bat of Jose Ramirez. Jurado gave up just three hits total, and Emmanuel Clase pitched a three up, three down eighth inning.
The Rangers’ offense was dormant though, and was shut out despite outhitting Cleveland 6-3. 1-0 was the final score. Jurado is 6-7 with the loss, while Nick Goody (3-0) in relief of Plesac was the winner for Cleveland. Brad Hand pitched the scoreless ninth inning to earn his 28th save.
In game two, Lynn did what he what he usually does. He finished seven innings and threw more than 100 pitches, giving up two runs. 5-1 was the final score after the Indians put the game away with three eighth inning runs off reliever Jesse Chavez. Lynn is 14-7 with the loss, while Cole (3-1) is the winning pitcher for the Tribe.
It was definitely disappointing to see the five game winning streak come to an end and to not win the series with at least a split on Wednesday. The Rangers still hold onto third place in the American League West, leading fourth place Los Angeles by 2.5 games (two in the loss column) and trailing second place Oakland by 6.5 games (six in the loss column). The waning hopes of earning a Wild Card berth weren’t helped by the two Wednesday losses. They now trail Tampa Bay by seven games (six in the loss column) for the second Wild Card slot with Oakland and Boston also ahead of Texas.
The three city road trip continues this weekend in Milwaukee. This will complete inter-league play on the Rangers’ schedule. After an off day Thursday, Kolby Allard will make his Ranger debut as Friday night’s starting pitcher. Allard is the left-handed starting pitcher Texas received from Atlanta in the Chris Martin trade. Pedro Payano (1-0) is the announced starter for Saturday and Mike Minor (10-6) is Sunday’s announced starting pitcher. Game times (Central) are 7:10 PM on Friday, 6:10 PM on Saturday, and 1:10 PM on Sunday.
* Lance Lynn has thrown 100 or more pitches in a game 22 times this year, the most in baseball. That includes as streak of 15 straight games with at least 100 pitches thrown. He has also completed at least six innings in 19 straight games. That ties him with Clayton Kershaw for the longest such streak in baseball, and it’s the most consecutive six inning starts for a Ranger pitcher since Kenny Rogers had 24 straight in 1995.
* The last series the Rangers won against a team with a winning record was against the Cardinals at home May 17, 18 and 19.