BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Last year’s World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, came to Arlington this week, but surprisingly, they like the Rangers had already been eliminated from post season play this year. The Sox however, showed their offensive muscle to take two of three games from Texas.
Tuesday’s opening game was a slug fest that Boston won 12-10. The teams combined for 22 runs on 29 hits. Nice game if you like offense. Edinson Volquez was the Ranger “opener”, but he could not get out of the first inning. The Red Sox knocked him around for four runs (all earned) on five hits.
Volquez has had a nice career winning 93 games since breaking into the Majors in 2005 with the Rangers. He originally said this would be his last year, but recently he hinted that he might come back next year if the Rangers want him. Hopefully, Tuesday’s outing will not be his final Major League appearance.
The Rangers came right back with four runs in their half of the first inning to tie the game, and both teams scored a single run in the second inning. Game on at 5-5 going to the third!
However, Boston’s offense wasn’t slowing down. Ariel Jurado followed Volquez to the mound and completed three innings, giving up another four runs on six hits. The Sox led 8-5 going to the fifth inning, and then padded the lead with four more fifth inning runs. Brett Martin gave up three on the night and Shawn Kelley gave up one.
The Rangers’ shoddy defense was a contributing factor. Two errors led to five of the 12 runs being unearned. Rougned Odor homered in the fifth to drive in two runs. Danny Santana and Scott Heineman drove in two more in the sixth inning, and Elvis Andrus brought home another in the seventh to pull the Rangers close at 12-10.
However, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman tossed scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth innings to bring home the 12-10 win for Boston. Eduardo Rodriguez, the Sox’ starter, lasted five innings giving up seven runs on 11 hits, but he got the win thanks to Boston’s offensive largesse. He’s 19-6, and Workman earned his 16th save. Jurado is 7-11 with the loss.
Wednesday was similar to Tuesday for Boston. The Sox rallied from a 3-0 first inning deficit to tie the game in the second inning and take a 5-3 lead in the third. The Rangers never scored again, as Boston added five more runs to make the final score 10-3.
Ranger starter Koby Allard took the loss. He’s 4-2. Boston starter Rick Porcello went to 14-12 in what was likely his final appearance with the Red Sox.
The finale was Thursday afternoon. The projected high in the area was 95, but surprisingly, the start time temperature was just 89. Mike Minor was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he was also the winning pitcher to go to 14-11 as the Rangers salvaged a 7-5 win to avoid a sweep
Six of the Ranger runs scored from home runs. The big Ranger hit was a grand slam from Danny Santana in the fifth inning, his second slam of the year. Willie Calhoun and Odor also hit solo shots.
The real focus of the game was on Ranger starter Mike Minor who needed nine strikeouts to reach a career high 200. He started strong recording two in the first inning and striking out the side in the third. After seven innings, Minor still needed one.
The Red Sox however seemed more determined to keep Minor from reaching 200 than they did about winning a game in which they trailed by two runs. Boston manager Joey Cora directed his hitters to swing at the first pitch, and amazingly, Minor was able to retire the Sox on three pitches in the eighth inning.
Minor said after the game that he felt the Red Sox were “messing with him” in the eighth inning. He decided to “mess with them” in the ninth, throwing a knuckle ball to Sandy Leon leading off the inning. It was the first time Minor had thrown a knuckle ball in a Major League game.
The 200th strikeout finally came in the ninth. Chris Owings was called out for the second out of the inning on a pitch that ended Minor’s day on the mound, but not without controversy. With one strike, Owings popped a foul ball toward first base. Minor said after the game that both he and catcher Jose Trevino yelled at first baseman Ronald Guzman to let it drop. Guzman did. Instead of out number two, it was strike two to Owings. Home plate umpire C. B. Buckner then gave Minor an assist with a called strike three on a larger than usual strike zone.
Jose Leclerc immediately relieved as Minor had thrown a season and career high 126 pitches. Leclerc struck out the only batter he faced to earn his 14th save. Minor is 14-10 with the win, and 14 wins is his career high. It was a bullpen day for Boston, and Ryan Weber, the sixth Sox pitcher on the day, took the loss. He’s 2-4.
Texas has clinched third place at 76-83. The Yankees come to town this weekend to finish out the season and Major League baseball at Globe Life Ballpark. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Joe Palumbo (0-2) on Friday, TBD on Saturday and Lance Lynn (15-11) on Sunday. Games times (all Central) are 7:05 PM on Friday and Saturday and 2:05 PM on Sunday.