BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers beat Oakland Sunday 8-3 to end their last road trip of the year on a winning note.  It also ended a season high seven game losing streak, as the Rangers had been swept at home by Oakland the weekend before and dropped two more games to the Astros to go 0-9 in Minute Maid Park this season.

The week started Tuesday in Houston, and they faced the 2019 Cy Young Award winner.  No the Award winner has not been announced, but it is almost certain to be Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole.  That’s the starting pitchers Texas faced in Houston.

Lance Lynn was the Tuesday’s starting pitcher for Texas, and he matched Verlander zero for zero for the first four innings.  Yuri Gurriel homered off Lynn in the fifth to put Houston in front 1-0.  Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 3-0.

Nomar Mazara hit his 18th homer of the year in the seventh inning to cut the Astros’ lead to 3-1, but that was all the scoring on the night for Texas, as the Rangers managed just six hits.

Lynn gave up a fourth run in the seventh inning to finish his night.  He took the loss to go to 14-11.  Verlander left after allowing four hits over six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.50.  He’s 19-6.  Hector Rondon, Will Harris and Roberto Osuna pitched the final three innings with Osuna earning his 34th save.

On Wednesday, Cole won his 18th.  He allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings.  Kolby Allard pitched the first five innings for Texas giving up four hits.  Unfortunately for Allard, one of the four was a home run to Gurriel with a runner aboard.  Allard was thus the losing pitcher to fall to 4-1.

The Rangers cut the lead in half when they pushed across a run in the seventh inning.  Jose Altuve however answered with a solo home run in the Astros’ half of the seventh inning to recapture the two run lead.  Ronald Guzman homered for Texas in the eighth inning to complete the scoring on the night making the final score 3-2.

The road trip continued on Friday in Oakland, where the A’s were perhaps the hottest team in baseball.  Mike Minor was the Ranger starter in the opening game, but he didn’t slow down the A’s.  A three run home run in the first inning started Oakland’s scoring parade.  The lead doubled to 6-0 with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.  Minor gave up all six, and all were earned.

Meanwhile, Mike Fiers was simply magnificent for Oakland.  He was touched for just two hits, both singles, over eight innings.  The A’s added two more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make the final score 8-0.  Fiers is 15-4 with the win, and Minor is 13-10 with the loss.

Saturday’s game was more of the same.  Oakland jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning.  Ranger starter Brock Burke retired just two batters and the two relievers that followed him also failed to record three outs.  It was 11-0 by the sixth inning.

Elvis Andrus, Danny Santana and Nick Solak hit solo home runs to put the Rangers on the scoreboard, but 12-3 was the final score.  Burke is 0-2 with the loss, and Oakland starter Sean Manea went to 3-0 with the win.

In Sunday’s final road game of the season, the Rangers took charge early with four first inning runs.  They added one more in the third, two more in the fourth and one more in the fifth inning.  Choo and Mazara homered.  Willie Calhoun homered twice.  The final score was 8-3.

Lynn started and gave up two runs on seven hits.  He’s 15-11 with the win.  Oakland starting pitcher Tanner Roark took the loss to go to 10-9.

When the Rangers took two of three against Tampa Bay earlier this month, their record stood at .500.  They spoke of trying to maintain that record for the season.  The seven game losing streak foiled that plan.  They come home six games under .500 at 75-81.  The opponents this week are Boston and New York.  It’s not likely they’ll win all six to reach .500.

The week also pointed up how far the Rangers need to go to be a factor in the American League West again.  Houston and Oakland are first and second in the division.  Both have a solid nucleus going forward.  Injuries have definitely slowed the Rangers in the second half of the season, particularly those to Joey Gallo and Hunter Pence.  However, Oakland and Houston each have a better starting rotation, bullpen and offense than the Rangers.

The announced starting pitchers for Texas in the Boston series are Edinson Volquez (0-1) opening for Ariel Jurado (7-10) on Tuesday, Kolby Allard (4-1) on Wednesday, and Mike MInor (13-10) on Thursday.  The game times are 7:05 PM (Central) on Tuesday and Wednesday and 1:05 PM on Thursday.

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