BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers opened the week by winning a three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays two games to one. The Rays are in a close race with Oakland and Cleveland for the two Wild Card berths, so every game is crucial for them. The two losses dropped them behind Oakland for the number one Wild Card berth. The wins for Texas brought the Rangers’ season record back to .500 at 74-74. It was also Texas’s first series win over a team with a winning record since they took two out of three from St. Louis in May.
The series opened with a fantastic game to watch. Lance Lynn pitched great! He completed seven innings allowing a run on four hits.
Texas took the lead with three runs in the fourth inning. Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch leading off the inning. He scored on Willie Calhoun’s double, and Nick Solak followed with his third home run.
However, the Rays got a run off Lynn in the fifth inning, and they tied the game in the eighth when Joey Wendle led off with a triple and Austin Meadows homered off Rafael Montero. That cost Lynn the chance to be the winning pitcher.
The game stayed tied into the 11th inning. A throwing error by Rougned Odor with two outs and two runners on base pushed across a go ahead run for the Rays. A second unearned run scored on the single that followed.
Former Ranger Pete Fairbanks pitched the bottom of the 11th. He gave up two hits, but kept Texas off the scoreboard to record his first Major League save. Emilio Pagan (4-2) got the win, and Emmanuel Clase was the hard luck loser moving his record to 2-3.
Texas came back to win an amazing offensive game on Wednesday. Tampa scored two in the first inning off Ranger starter Ariel Jurado. Not to worry. The Rangers came back in a bull rush as the first five Ranger hitters of the night scored. The Rangers sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning, and seven of them scored to seemingly take control of the game. Elvis Andrus had two hits in the inning.
That was a dream. The Rays came back in the second inning to score five runs to tie the game and chase Jurado to the showers. Tampa Bay broke the tie with a fourth inning run. In the eighth inning with two outs, Solak singled, Danny Santana walked and Odor homered to put the Rangers in front 10-8.
Ji-Man Choi homered in the ninth inning to make the final score 10-9. Ian Gibaut was the winning pitcher. He’s 1-0. Jose Leclerc got the save, his 12th, despite giving up Choi’s home run. Colin Poche took the loss to fall to 4-5.
Thursday’s finale was another teriffic game. Kolby Allard started for Texas and looked on target for his fifth win. He gave up a run in the second inning after the Rangers had given him a 1-0 lead in the first.
Three one out singles in the fourth inning broke the tie. Delino DeShields later scored on a wild pitch, and Solak hit his second home run of the series to make the score 5-1.
Allard ran into trouble though in the fifth inning. He retired none of the five batters he faced and three of them scored to pull Tampa Bay to within a run. Luke Farrell relieved and became the pitcher of record for the win since Allard did not complete five innings. He pitched two sparkling innings.
Three Ranger relievers limited the Rays to two hits and no runs over the final three innings to secure the win. Odor homered in the eighth inning to make the final score 6-4. Farrell (1-0) got his first win as a Ranger, and Leclerc earned his 13th save. Rays’ starter Brendan McKay (2-4) was tagged with the loss.
The Rangers now have 14 games remaining. This weekend, Oakland comes to town for three games. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Brock Burke (0-1) on Friday night, Mike Minor (13-8) on Saturday, and TBD on Sunday. Games times (all Central) are 7:05 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 PM on Sunday.
* There were five Rangers on the active roster that have previously been part of the Rampa Bay Rays organization: Nick Solak, who had six hits in 11 at bats in the series, Brock Burke, Ian Gibaut, Taylor Guerrieri, and Logan Forsythe.