BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The unbalanced schedule with each team playing 19 games against their four divisional opponents usually affords a preponderance of divisional games in September. What can be better than head-to-head competition to decide the division champion and perhaps a Wild Card berth? Oddly this season, the schedule has most of the divisional play happening before September. The Rangers have just nine September games against divisional foes, and 16 against American League East opponents.
The Rangers faced the Yankees for the first time this season to start the week. New York took two out of three. No surprise here. The Yankees have lost just one series at home all season. They are now 18-1-3 in home series.
The Rangers won game one behind a strong starting pitching effort from Mike Minor. He shut out the Yankees over the first 7-1/3rd innings, and Shawn Kelley and Emmanuel Clase completed the shutout. The final score was 7-0, with Minor winning his 12th game against eight losses. The Yankees had gone 220 games without being shutout since June of 2018.
The Ranger batters touched Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka for two runs over the first six innings. They added five more runs off of Nestor Cortes, Jr. and Tyler Lyons over the final three. Tanaka is 10-8 with the loss.
That was the good news for Texas in this series. The Rangers scored just twice more with ninth inning home runs from Scott Heineman and Rougned Odor in the second and third games of the series. The final scores were 10-1 on Tuesday and 4-1 on Wednesday. Starters Edinson Volquez (0-1) and Lance Lynn (14-10) were the losing pitchers.
James Paxton, the Yankees’ starting pitcher Tuesday, was almost untouchable. He allowed just two base runners (a single and a walk) as he blanked the Rangers over seven innings on 95 pitches to improve to 12-6. Four of the five Ranger pitchers that appeared in the game gave up a home run, as the Bronx Bombers lived up to their name by hitting five on the night.
The Yankees made Wednesday’s rubber match a bullpen game. Six pitchers took the mound with Luis Cessa, the second pitcher in the game, getting the win. He’s 2-1. He labored through five innings on 108 pitches, allowing three runs.
The losses in the final two games put the Rangers five games under .500 at 68-73. They now open a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Kolby Allard (3-0) on Thursday, Brock Burke (0-1) on Friday, TBA on Saturday, and Mike Minor (12-8) on Sunday. These will be the last four games this year against an opponent with a losing record. Game times (Central) are 6:05 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 12:05 PM on Sunday.
Last weekend, the Rangers split a four game series against the Seattle Mariners. On Thursday, Lance Lynn started, and he pitched a fine game. He gave up an earned run on four hits over six innings. An egregious error on a dropped throw to first base charged him with two more unearned runs. The Rangers rallied to tie the game at 3-3. Jose Leclerc has been good sometimes and bad sometimes of late. On this night, he wasn’t good, coughing up two runs in the ninth inning to take the loss in a 5-3 Seattle win.
On Friday, Kolby Allard started and gave up two runs over 5-1/3rd innings. He got the win to go to 3-0 as the Rangers scored six runs on seven hits. The score was 6-3.
On Saturday, the Rangers won again. They scored two runs in the ninth to walk-off with a 3-2 win. Elvis Andrus scored on an infield ground ball and Isiah Kiner-Felafa singled home the game winner.
The Rangers had the chance to win the series on Sunday, but it wasn’t to be. Brett Martin as the opener, gave up four first inning runs. September call-up Luke Farrell followed Martin to the mound and gave up two more runs. Seven Ranger pitchers ended up seeing action in a bullpen game that Texas lost 11-3.
* The Rangers have allowed 198 home runs this season in 141 games. That’s a pace to give up 227 round trippers for the season. The club record is 220.
* The Rangers dismissed their entire staff at AAA Nashville – manager Jason Wood, pitching coach Brian Shouse, and bullpen coach Eric Gagne. Hitting coach Howard Johnson will not return, but may accept another position in the organization. Also AA Frisco manager Joe Mikuluk was dismissed.