SAN FRANCISCO AROSE

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Sand Francisco Giants arose from a game one loss to come back and win the last two to take the three game series with the Texas Rangers this weekend.  The Rangers’ week in the city by the bay ended Sunday with a 3-1 loss to give them a 2-4 record for the week.

It was players weekend.  The Rangers and Giants wore special jerseys and caps for all three games.  The Rangers caps were red with a blue bill, and the jerseys were powder blue with red sleeves.  The players put the name of their choice on the back of the jerseys.  They also were allowed to wear specially made shoes and to use specially made bats for the weekend.

The series started with a starting pitching foe with a familiar heritage.  Dereck Rodriguez, son of Ivan Rodriguez, was the Giants’ starting pitcher.  His chosen players’ weekend name was D-Rod, and D-Rod pitched extremely well with his father in the audience.  He held the Rangers hitless through the first four innings, and finished the night allowing two runs on three hits over six innings.  It was his ninth consecutive quality start, and his ERA stands at 2.30.

Needless to say, there was a proud Papa smiling over the performance of the Rangers’ opponent’s starting pitcher.

Drew Hutchison was the Ranger starter, and he coughed up four runs in the first inning.  He lasted just four innings, getting touched for six runs (all earned) on seven hits.

After six innings, the Giants led 6-2 with D-Rod in line for the win and Hutch (the name on Hutchison’s jersey) for the loss.

Texas scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to close to within two at 6-4, as the Giants’ bullpen cracked.  Ronald Guzman (Cepeda) grounded out and Robinson Chirinos (Pelo Buche) flew out to start the ninth inning.  Shin-Soo Choo (his name in Korean) hit what looked like a game ending ground ball.  However, Giants’ second sacker Joe Panik made an error on the play.  Choo was safe and the game continued.

Rougned Odor (El Tipo) followed Choo with a game tying home run.  Cory Gearrin (Gee Gee) kept the Giants off the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings.  A bases loaded walk in the 10th gave the Rangers their first lead of the game at 7-6; and Jose Leclerc (Pico) retired all three batters he faced in the botton of the 10th, including two by strikeout, to make 7-6 the final score and earn his seventh save.  Gearrin is 2-1 with the win.

Saturday afternoon’s game was very similar to the Friday’s with a different result.  Martin Perez (El De Las Matas) was the Rangers’ starting pitcher, and like Hutch the night before, he gave up four first inning runs.

Like the Friday game, a fielding error brought Odor up to the plate and he homered.  This time with two on base in the eighth inning.  Like the Friday game, the Rangers rallied in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs.

Unlike Friday’s game, the Rangers failed to score in the ninth inning, making the Giants 5-3 winners.  Perez is 2-6 with the loss.

On Sunday, the Rangers faced another starting pitcher with connections to the team.  Derek Holland (Last Name) was the Giants’ starter, and he was very good.  He pitched into the seventh inning allowing a run on three hits.

Yovani Gallardo (Yo) was the Ranger starter, and he allowed a solo home run in the first inning, and a two run triple in the fourth inning.  Gallardo finished five innings allowing the three runs.

Both bullpens were steller.  Neither allowed a score.  3-1 was the final score with Holland (7-8) getting the win and Gallardo (7-3) the loss.

The Rangers are back home after an off day on Monday.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are in Arlington Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Dodgers won both games in a two game series in Los Angeles earlier this season.  The Rangers’ announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Tuesday and Mike Minor on Wednesday.  Unfortunately for local fans, the Dodgers will not be using Highland Park High School grad Clayton Kershaw in the series.  These two games will be the last inter-league games of the season in Arlington.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers’ bullpen allowed just one run in the series in 12 innings.

*     Friday night’s win was number 319 for Jeff Banister as manager, tying him for fourth place with Buck Showalter on the all time Ranger list.

 

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OAKLAND’s BANDWAGON ROLLS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Oakland Athletics have the best record in baseball since June 15, and the Texas Rangers saw why this week.  The Rangers scrambled to win Wednesday afternoon’s series finale to avoid a sweep after being steam rolled by terrific starting pitching in the first two games.

Mike Fiers started game one for Oakland.  He was pretty low in the pecking order of starting pitchers rumored to be available at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.  He in fact was not traded until August after dealing with the waiver process.  Unfortunately for the Rangers, he may be the best starting pitcher on the field that was traded around July 31.

On Monday night, Fiers made his third start for Oakland, and he was outstanding.  He shut out the Rangers for seven innings on one hit.  He walked one and struck out eight on 100 pitches.  He’s now 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA since the trade from the Tigers, and Oakland has won all three games he has started.  He’s 9-6, 3.21 on the season.

Run support was no problem.  Bartolo Colon made the start after not being able to go a day earlier in Arlington because of back stiffness.  He reportedly was walking around the clubhouse rather gingerly before the game.

During the game, he wasn’t able to get his pitches down in the strike zone.  He lasted five innings giving up 10 hits.  Three of the 10 were home runs that drove in six runs.  (Ranger killer Khris Davis naturally hit one of them!)  Four more hits were doubles, such that seven of the 10 hits went for extra bases.  He gave up seven runs on the night to run his ERA to 5.45.  He’s 7-11 with the loss.

Jeff Springs and Alex Claudio finished the game.  Each one surrendered a run to make the final score 9-0, as the Ranger hitters managed two hits and no runs off the two relievers that followed Fiers.

Tuesday’s middle game of the series was almost a carbon copy of game one.  Former Oklahoma State Cowboy Brett Anderson was just as good as Fiers, as he too threw seven shutout innings giving up just a walk and a single.  Jeurys Familia and Lou Trivino completed the shutout giving up just one more hit.

Rookie Ariel Jurado was the Rangers starter, and he gave up four runs on 10 hits over 5-1/3rd innings.  He was actually a little better than those numbers indicate.  Ranger manager Jeff Banister said he thought there were only three hard hit balls off him, and three of the four runs scored in the fifth and sixth innings after he’d been through the A’s batting order twice.  He took the loss to go to 2-3 on the year.

Matt Moore relieved Jurado and finished the game, giving up two more runs to make the final score 6-0.

The Rangers’ scoreless innings streak ended quickly on Wednesday afternoon.  Shin-Soo Choo hit the first pitch of the game for a home run.  It gave the Rangers a lead they never relinquished.

Choo walked to start the third inning and later scored on Adrian Beltre’s single.  Joey Gallo homered in the fourth inning.  Elvis Andrus singled in the fifth inning, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on another single from Beltre.  That put the Rangers ahead 4-0.

Mike Minor was the Ranger starter, and once again, he was very good.  He completed six shutout innings on 73 pitches allowing just one hit.  Oakland finally cracked the scoreboard with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings off Cory Gearrin and Chris Martin.

Jose Leclerc put the quietus on the A’s in the ninth, though, to nail down his sixth save in the 4-2 Ranger win.  Minor is 10-6 with the win.

The trip to the “city by the bay” continues Friday after an off day on Thursday.  The Rangers face the San Francisco Giants on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  The Rangers announced starting pitchers are Drew Hutchison, Martin Perez and Yovani Gallardo.

The Giants will start two Dereks (one is actually “Dereck”) with Rangers ties.  Dereck Rodriguez is scheduled to start Friday’s game.  He’s the son of Ranger Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez.  Derek Holland, a former Ranger that pitched the best post-season game in Ranger history in the 2011 World Series, starts Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     The A’s have won the season series against Texas as they now hold a 10-6 edge.  Texas goes back to Oakland September 7, 8 and 9.

*     The Rangers have 99 home runs from players in their age 25 and younger season.  Joey Gallo leads the way with 33.

*     Jose Leclerc has thrown 11 shutout innings in his last 11 appearances.  He has an 0.79 ERA in his last 22 appearances.

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RANGERS DROP ANGELS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers fought the elements and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to win this weekend’s series three games to one.  The final two games experienced rain delays that totalled three hours and 40 minutes.  With the series win, the Rangers turned in a 4-2 week, and have a 15-14 record since the All-Star break.

The series began with one of the most entertaining games of the season on Thursday.  It didn’t start well for the Rangers as the first five batters of the game rapped singles and ultimately  scored to put Texas in a 5-0 hole before even coming to bat  The Rangers answered with a Nomar Mazara two run home run in the bottom of the first inning to keep it close.  Mazara was seeing his first action in August as he was activated from the disabled list before the game.

The teams exchanged solo home runs in the second inning with the Angels’ coming from the bat of kole Calhoun and the Rangers from Joey Gallo.

Amazingly, Ranger starting pitcher Ariel Jurado was able to complete six innings with no further damage.

Los Angeles threatened in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases to start the inning with two singles and a walk.  It was clearly an opportunity to blow the game open; but instead, the Rangers closed out the Angels with a triple play.  A line shot down the third base line was fielded by Jurickson Profar on the short hop.  There was confusion as to whether he caught the ball in the air that worked in the Rangers’ favor.  Profar stepped on third base to force out the runner coming from second base, tagged the runner on third base for the second out, and threw to second base in plenty of time to force out the runner coming from first base.

Profar homered in the sixth inning to bring the Rangers within two at 6-4.  Matt Moore relieved Jurado and shut down the Angels in the seventh and eighth innings, remarkably doing so on just 16 pitches.

That brought the Rangers to bat in the eighth inning still trailing by two.  The Angels sent out Justin Anderson to start the inning, the seventh Angel pitcher of the night, as this was a bullpen game for Los Angeles.

A walk, hit by pitch and a double bumped the score to 6-5 with runners on second and third and no outs.  Another walk loaded the bases, but the Angels had a chance to get out of the inning with the lead when the next two Rangers struck out.

However, Shin-Soo Choo coaxed a walk to force in the tying run.  That ended Anderson’s night on the mound. Omar Morales replaced him.  The inning appeared to be over when Rougned Odor grounded out to second on a close play.  Ranger Manager Jeff Banister called for a replay, which showed that Odor was clearly safe.  The call was reversed and the Rangers led 7-6.  Morales then uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Robinson Chirinos to score from third on a nifty slide that eluded the tag.

The Rangers took the 8-6 lead to the ninth, and Jose Leclerc made that the final score when he put down Los Angeles for his third save.

Friday night, it was the Rangers that struck with an early five run inning.  In the second inning, Gallo doubled home the first two runs and then scored on a groundout.  Four straight singles scored the final two runs to put the Rangers in front 5-1.

Like the Angels on Thursday night, the Rangers added another run later in the game.  Carlos Tocci scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

Unlike the Angels on Thursday night, Texas made the six runs stand up for a win.  Drew Hutchison moved up a day to start the game after Mike Minor was scratched with back stiffness.  Hutchison scrambled through five innings, allowing two runs on five hits to earn the win, his first with the Rangers.  He’s 2-2 for the season.

Four relievers pitched an inning apiece to finish the game.  Leclerc took the ninth and was even better than Thursday night.  He struck out the side on 16 pitches to earn his fourth save.

The start of Saturday’s game was delayed for almost 2-1/2 hours because of rain.  It finally got started after 9:30 local time.  Martin Perez was the Ranger starting pitcher, moving up from his scheduled Sunday start.  He again disappointed.  The only good part of his performance was that he was able to complete six innings, giving up six runs on nine hits.

The Rangers came back to tie the game at six, but the Angels struck for five runs in the seventh inning off Eddie Butler.  Three singles to the first three batters Butler faced sent the first run home.  Shohei Ohtani then pinch hit and homered to put the Los Angeles ahead 10-6.  Butler also gave up another home run to Taylor Ward, who had made his Major League debut earlier in the week.

Texas added a run in the seventh inning to make the final score 11-7.  Butler is 2-3 with the loss.

The Rangers got off to a good start Sunday, retiring the Angels in the top of the first thanks to a strikeout/throw-out double play.  In their half of the inning, Choo doubled and Odor singled for a quick 1-0 lead.

The Angels answered back in the fourth inning, rallying for two runs.  That was all the scoreboard damage the Angels would do on this afternoon.  Yovani Gallardo started and finished six innings, allowing just the two runs on six hits.  It was the Rangers’ first quality start since August 3.

Matt Moore relieved Gallardo and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.  The score was still 2-1 when the Rangers came to bat.  Drew Robinson and Choo singled with one out.  Odor followed with his 15th home run to put the Rangers in the lead 4-2.

The second rain delay of the day ensued, but when play resumed, Cory Gearrin shut down the Angels in the eighth inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.  Leclerc wrapped up the ninth inning with just eight pitches to earn his third save in the series and his fifth of the season.  Moore is 3-6 with the win

The Rangers now go to the city by the bay for the next week.  They begin with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday games against the A’s, and after an off day on Thursday, they complete the week with inter-league play against the Giants over the weekend.  Bartolo Colon is the announced starting pitcher for Texas on Monday, though there is some doubt that he’ll be physically able to make the start after getting skipped on Sunday with back stiffness.  The rotation is up in the air for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus went 0-4 in Thursday night’s series opening game to end his home hitting streak at 24 games.  He did however walk in the game, walk again in Friday’s game, and get hits in Saturday’s and Sunday’s game to extend his home on-base streak to 38 games.

*     Since the trade of Keone Kela to the Pirates, Jose Leclerc has save five games in five opportunities.  He has a scoreless streak of 10 innings in which he has struck out 15 batters and walked just one.  Opposing batters are hitting 3-32 against him in that span.

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TWO HOMECOMINGS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rangers started the week with a pair of games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The D-Backs were making their first appearance in Arlington since the 2015 season, and rode into town in first place in the National League West.  The teams split the two games as they had done two weeks earlier in Phoenix.  Arizona left town still atop their division with a one game lead over Colorado and a two game lead over the Dodgers.

The trek into Arlington represented a homecoming of sorts for a pair of Diamondbacks.  Jake Diekman was traded to Arizona at the non-waiver trade deadline.  The Rangers were in fact in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks when the trade happened, such that Diekman dressed in the Rangers’ clubhouse for game one, and dressed in the D-Backs clubhouse for game two of that series.

On Monday, Chuck Morgan played a video tribute to Diekman’s time in Texas between innings.  For sure, Diekman was an integral part of the Ranger’s generally excellent bullpen over the past four seasons including the ’15 and ’16 teams that won the American League West.

When the video presentation was over, Diekman received a rousing round of applause in appreciation.  The camera focused on him in the visitors bullpen, and he gave a wave of his cap in appreciation of the cheering fans.  The camera focused in on Diekman when he was talking to fellow reliever Archie Bradley, who was also returning home.

Bradley is from the Tulsa area, but he played for the noted Dallas Mustangs youth baseball program.  Bradley was once signed to a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma University.  He broke the hearts of a lot of Sooner fans when he chose to sign with Arizona after getting drafted in the top 10 picks and getting offered a handsome seven figure signing bonus.

Bradley rounded up 36 tickets from the D-Backs allocation for friends and family. In Monday’s game however, he was not greeted warmly by the Rangers.  He entered in the eighth inning with the D-Backs trailing by a run and gave up an insurance run to Texas on two hits.

Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter Monday night.  He looked shaky in the first inning as Arizona struck for two runs on three hits, including two run scoring doubles.  He finished five innings though, giving up just one more hit, which was a run scoring single in the fifth inning.

Meanwhile the Rangers rallied.  Ronald Guzman homered in the third inning to cut the Zona lead in half at 2-1.  Robinson Chirinos put Texas into the lead with a three run home run an inning later.  Chirinos also drove in the eighth inning insurance run with a single.

Jose Leclerc earned his second save in the 5-3 win.  He zipped the D-Backs three up and three down in the ninth inning, with two strikeouts.  Colon was the winning pitcher going to 7-10 for the season.

The Diamondbacks came back to split the series with a 6-4 win on Tuesday behind a strong outing from Patrick Corbin.  Corbin is expected to be one of the best starting pitchers available on the free agent market this off season; and on Tuesday, he showed why.  He dazzled the Rangers with a superb slider and fastball that is difficult for batters to pick up coming out of his hand.

Corbin completed seven innings efficiently using fewer than 100 pitches.  He gave up three runs on six hits striking out seven and walking no one.  The win moved his total into double digits for the season.  He’s 10-4 with a 3.18 ERA.

Three relievers wrapped up the final two innings, with Brad Boxberger pitching the ninth and giving up a run for the save, his 27th this year.

Yovani Gallardo was the Ranger starter.  The Rangers have supported Gallardo with heavy run scoring to help him win seven games.  The big guns however were held in check by Corbin, and Gallardo was knocked around for four runs on six hits in just 3-1/3rd innings.  He’s 7-2 with the loss.

Jurickson Profar had another good offensive game.  He was 2-3 with a sacrifice fly, driving in two runs and scoring a third as the Rangers’ cleanup hitter.

The Rangers have Wednesday off before hosting the Los Angeles Angels for four games this weekend.  The announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Thursday, Mike Minor on Friday, Drew Hutchison on Saturday, and Martin Perez on Sunday.

Bartolo Colon will be honored prior to Saturday’s game for becoming the winningest Major League pitcher from Latin America.  The pitcher that he passed on the all time wins list is Dennis Martinez, who is scheduled to be part of the ceremony.

NOTABLE:

*     Adrian Beltre scored the eighth inning insurance run Monday night, but he pulled up in pain as he crossed the plate.  The Rangers chose to wait until Thursday to see how the hamstring responds to treatment in hopes of avoiding a stay on the disabled list.

*     Texas is 6-6 in inter-league play.  Remaining interleague play includes three games in San Francisco and two in Arlington against the Dodgers this month, and three games at San Diego in September.

*     Elvis Andrus had hits in both games to run his home hitting streak to 24 games.

 

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HOME RUN DERBY IN THE BRONX

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers and Yankees concluded their season series Sunday in Yankee Stadium with a 7-2 Yankee win.  That gave New York a 3-1 win in this four game series and made the Yankees the winner on the season series four games to three.  In these four games, the teams combined to hit 16 home runs; and for the entire seven game season series, they clobbered 35 home runs.

The big story for the Rangers this weekend was Ronald Guzman who hit three home runs in Friday night’s 12-7 Ranger win.  Better yet, many of his family members from the Dominican Republic attended Friday’s game; including his father, who was watching his son play in the Major Leagues for the first time.  The three home runs were noteworthy on a number of fronts:

*     Guzman became the first rookie in Ranger history to hit three home runs in a game, and the second youngest Ranger to hit three home runs in a game.  (Juan Gonzalez hit three in a game in 1992 when he was about a year younger than Guzman.)

*     He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game in new Yankee Stadium – a Yankee or an opponent, and the fifth player overall to hit three home runs in new Yankee Stadium.

*     He became the 18th Ranger to hit three home runs in a game, and the first since Adrian Beltre in 2012, and the first Ranger to hit three home runs on the road since Josh Hamilton hit four in Baltimore in 2012.

Guzman homered in each of the three Yankee games in Arlington last May.  That gave him a total of six for the year.  All the other Rangers put together hit six more.

The Ranger win on Friday night felt like more of a rout than the score indicates.  Mike Minor pitched into the sixth inning giving up four runs on six hits to earn the win and move his record to 9-6.

Texas held a 10-4 lead going into the Yankee seventh inning.  They added two more runs in the eighth to complete the scoring on the night having scored in five straight innings.  The Yankees scored three over the final three innings to close the gap.

Ariel Jurado was the starting pitcher in the opening game of the series.  He gave up a two run home run in the first inning to put the Rangers immediately down on the scoreboard.  He completed five innings giving up six runs on seven hits.  Four of the seven hits were home runs.

Texas rallied to trail 7-3 after six innings.  The Rangers left two men on base in both the seventh and ninth innings, but failed to score making 7-3 the final score.  Jurado is 2-2 with the loss.

Drew Hutchison was Saturday’s starting pitcher.  He too gave up a pair of runs in the first inning, including one on a Giancarlo Stanton home run.  From there he scrambled to pitch into the sixth inning giving up three runs total on five hits.

The Rangers came back to tie the game at three in the seventh inning to take Hutchison off the hook for the loss.  One of the runs scored on a bases loaded balk that daring base running by Rougned Odor forced.

Chris Martin relieved in the seventh inning and gave up a two run home run to Miguel Andujar that put the Yankees back in front 5-3.  The Rangers threatened in the ninth inning, loading the bases with two outs.  Jurickson Profar struck out in a pouring rain to end the game.  Martin is 1-3 with the loss.

On Sunday, Martin Perez was the starting pitcher, and he immediately gave up a home run in the first inning.  Stanton again hit the solo shot to give New York the early lead.  Perez put up three shutout innings before falling apart in the fifth inning.  He gave up five runs in the fifth, and could not retire a batter in the sixth.  Five innings pitched with seven runs allowed on 11 hits was his final line.

The Rangers got two runs in the seventh inning, but that was all the Ranger scoring on the day.  7-2 was the final score, and Perez is 2-5 with the loss.

The series in New York wrapped up this short road trip, as well as all the games the Rangers are scheduled to play in the Eastern time zone this season.  There are just three road trips left in the season, all to the West Coast.

The Rangers are back home for a six game home stand.  First up are the Arizona Diamondbacks for games on Monday and Tuesday.  The Rangers and Diamondbacks split two games in Phoenix two weeks ago to go into play Monday with a 1-1 record against each other.  The announced starters for the Rangers are veterans Bartolo Colon on Monday and Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus ended his 19 game hitting streak by going 0-4 in the series opening game.  The 19-game streak is the longest in Andrus’s career and ties Cleveland’s Michael Brantley for the longest hitting streak in Major League baseball this season.

*     Adrian Beltre played third base Sunday, his 2,700th game to start at third base.  He is third on the all time list of games started at one position trailing Willie Mays (2,741) in center field and Brooks Robinson (2,790) at third base.

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RANGERS SINK MARINERS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas started the week by taking two wins in their three game series with the Seattle Mariners.  The Rangers dropped game one, but came back to win the final two to win their second straight series and complete a 5-2 home stand.

The series was especially costly to Seattle.  The Mariners were once solidly in the second Wild Card slot and challenging Houston for the division championship.  Now they have slipped into third place in the division trailing Oakland by three games for the second Wild Card spot and first place Houston by eight games.  Clearly, the Mariners looked like the team going through the motions at the end of a losing season instead of the Rangers.

The series began with a delightful game.  Martin Perez pitched well.  He gave up 10 hits in seven innings, but held the Mariners to three runs for a quality start.

Seattle’s Wade LeBlanc pitched even better.  LeBlanc has been struggling and his hold on a spot at the back of the Mariners’ rotation is tenuous.  On Monday night, he was terrific.  With one out in the seventh inning, he gave up the second Ranger hit of the game, an Elvis Andrus single.  Seattle manager Scott Servais surprisingly took him out at that point, despite a pitch count of just 82 pitches.

The strategy backfired, as the next two pitchers Servais summoned from the bullpen failed to retire a batter, and the Rangers tied the game at three with two singles and a bases loaded hit by pitch driving in the runs.

From that point, both bullpens were sharp.  The game went into extra innings with the Mariners finally pushing across a run in the 12th inning.  Seattle closer Edwin Diaz is having an All-Star year, and he got the job done in the bottom of the 12th.  He allowed two singles to put the tying run in scoring position, and the winning run on base with one out; but he settled in to get a Willie Calhoun pop in foul territory and a Shin-Soo Choo strikeout to end the game.

Eddy Butler (2-2, and 1-1 with Texas) took the loss.

Game two turned into an historic night.  Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter, and weathered giving up three early runs to complete seven innings.  The Rangers’ offense came to life with four runs in the third inning to take the lead they never gave up.  They added seven more runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to make the final score 11-4.

Texas got home runs from Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre.  Odor and Profar were especially damaging to the Mariners driving in four and three runs respectively.

The big story though was Colon.  The win was the 246th of his career moving him past Nicaraguan Dennis Martinez for the most wins by a pitcher born in Latin America.  For the season, Colon improved to 6-10.

On Wednesday, Yovani Gallardo started for Texas; and when Gallardo pitches, the Rangers score runs.  On this day, the Rangers again plated 11 runs led by Joey Gallo’s two home runs.  They were his 30th and 31st of the season, to reach the 30 home run plateau for the second year in a row.

Gallardo held the Mariners to two runs on three hits over six innings for the win.  The Mariners however didn’t roll over and play dead.  Alex Claudio, Cory Gearrin and Eddy Butler finished off the game, and Seattle scored off each of them to make the final score 11-7.  Gallardo is 7-1 with the win.

After the game, Texas flew to New York for four games with the Yankees this weekend.  The announced starting pitchers are Ariel Jurado on Thursday, Mike Minor on Friday, Drew Hutchison on Saturday and Martin Perez on Sunday.  The first two games begin at 6:05 PM Central and the last two games begin at 12:05 PM Central.  Texas leads the season series over New York two games to one.

NOTABLE:

*     Rougned Odor was named American League “Player of the Week” on Monday for the week ending August 5.  He hit .304 with four home runs and 10 RBIs last week.  It was his second time in three weeks since the All-Star break to win the award.  Those are the only two times that a Ranger player has won the award this season, and is the eighth time that a Ranger player has won the award in two different weeks during a season.  Odor has won the award four times in his career, second most for a Ranger to Rafael Palmeiro, who was A. L. Player of the Week five times.

*     Elvis Andrus had hits in all three games to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.  That is his career high and ties the longest hitting streak in the Majors this season.

*     In Round Rock on Thursday night, Nomar Mazara will begin his minor league rehab assignment, and the recently signed Chris Tillman will make his debut in the Rangers’ system as the Express’s starting pitcher.

*     The cap that Bartolo Colon wore Tuesday night when he won his record breaking 246th win was sent to the Hall of Fame.

*     The Rangers have scored in double digits in six games since the All-Star break, the most in baseball.

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RANGERS RIP BIRDS FOR THREE WINS

BY:  Richard W, Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers’ offense exploded for 37 runs this weekend to take three wins in their four game series with the Baltimore Orioles.  It was the first time this year that the Rangers have won a four game series.  Baltimore narrowly escaped a Ranger sweep as they rallied from two deficits to win Sunday’s finale.

The series began with an offensive bang.  Texas essentially put game one away early by scoring 10 runs in the first two innings.  Jurickson Profar hit a three run home run in the first inning, and then the Rangers cashed in four doubles, two singles and two walks for seven more runs in the second.

The beneficiary of the Rangers’ offensive largesse was of course Yovani Gallardo.  He was making his eighth start for Texas, and the Rangers have averaged 10.4 runs in those eight games.  On this night, he pitched into the sixth inning, allowing five runs on nine hits.  Four of those runs came on two run home runs the Orioles hit in the fifth and sixth innings.

The Ranger offense just kept on scoring on this night though as the Rangers’ clamp on winning the game was never in doubt after the second inning.  Texas scored in every inning but the fifth, and the final score was 17-8.

With an offensive explosion of 17 runs, there are lots of contributors.  All nine hitters in the batting order got at least one hit and scored at least one run.  In fact, only two players did not have multi-hit games.  Profar led with four RBIs.  Joey Gallo hit his 27th home run and drove in three.

The real story offensively though was Rougned Odor, one of the two hitters with just one hit in the game.  Odor unbelievably walked five times, and his hit was a home run.  He scored three times and drove in three runs.  Three times previously Major League batters have hit a homer and walked five times in a game.  Their names are Hank Aaron, Mark McGwire and Edgar Martinez.  In each of their cases though, they accomplished the feat in an extra inning game and had an intentional walk.  Odor is the first in baseball history to do it in a nine inning game with five unintentional walks.

Gallardo is 6-1 with the win.  Billy Butler relieved him in the sixth inning and finished the game.  That qualified Butler for his first Major League save, despite the lopsided score.

On Friday night, the Rangers’ offense looked very similar to Thursday night’s.  This time the seven run inning came a bit later in the fourth inning.  Gallo started the fourth inning hit parade with a two run home run.  Robinson Chirinos followed with a solo shot.  Odor (that guy again) finished it off with a grand slam home run, the third in his career.

That staked rookie Ariel Jurado to an 8-0 lead.  Jurado finished the fifth inning, allowing two runs to qualify for the win.  He’s 2-1 in three starts, including 2-0 since the All-Star break when he was called up from AA Frisco for the second time this season.

The final score was 11-3.  Four relievers pitched an inning apiece after Jurado left the game.  Alex Claudio gave up a run, but the others whitewashed the birds over the final three innings on two hits.

The Rangers clinched the series win Saturday night in a good old fashioned ball game like it used to be played.  The pitchers pitched well, and the game moved fast.  The two teams had combined to score 39 run in the first two games, but on Saturday, they managed just four runs total.  The Rangers came out on top 3-1, and the game time was 2:25, the second shortest game time so far this season in Arlington.

Ranger starting pitcher Mike Minor was really good.  He said after the game he used four pitches.  He went seven innings, allowing a run on four hits.  He walked no one, and struck out six.  He efficiently needed only 86 pitches.

Minor continues to get better.  The win improved his record to 8-6.  Eight wins rank as the fourth highest total among free agent pitchers last winter.  His ERA is down to 4.53 in 21 starts, but over his last 10 outings, he is 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA.

Before the series opening game, Ranger manager Jeff Banister met with many in the local media for the first time since the trade deadline.  He was asked point blank if Jose Leclerc would become the closer in the aftermath of the Keone Kela trade.  Banister was not willing to name a closer at that point, instead listing four relievers including Leclerc that were candidates to close games.

Saturday’s game was the first to have a ninth inning save situation since the trade, and it was Leclerc that got the call.  He responded nicely with a three up three down ninth inning on 11 pitches.  It was his first save of the season.

Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor each homered to supply the offense.  Gallo’s came with a runner on base.  It was the fourth straight game for Gallo to go yard, and the third for Odor.

Sunday’s announced starter prior to the series was Martin Perez.  Late in Saturday’s game, the Rangers announced that they had signed Drew Hutchison, and that he would start Sunday’s game, sliding Perez to Monday.  Hutchison began the season with Philadelphia, and was designated for assignment in late May after posting a 4.64 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

He rejected the Phillies assignment to AAA, becoming a free agent, and then signed a minor league contract with Los Angeles.  He went 4-1, with a 2.14 ERA in seven starts and two relief appearances for the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City.  Under the terms of his Dodger contract, Hutchison had the right to request his release if he was not added to the Dodgers’ Major League roster by July 31.  He wasn’t, and he did.  The Rangers signed him.

Hutchison wasn’t very good Sunday afternoon.  The Rangers took leads of 2-1 after one inning and 5-4 after two innings. but Hutchison gave up the run in the first inning and coughed up the Ranger leads in the second and third innings.  That was the end of his day – six earned runs on six hits and three walks in three innings.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter had an even quicker hook for his starter, Yefry Ramirez.  Showalter summoned the first of five relievers with two outs in the second inning.  They did the job, giving up just one run over the final 7-1/3rd innings for the 9-6 win.

Hutchison is 1-2 with the loss, and his ERA is up to 6.29.

The Rangers’ home stand continues with three games against the Seattle Mariners to start the week.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Martin Perez on Monday, Bartolo Colon on Tuesday, and Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday.  The Monday and Tuesday games have the usual 7:05 PM start time, while Wednesday’s game is slated to start at 1:05 PM.

NOTABLE:

*     Elvis Andrus tripled in the first inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.  That’s the longest current hitting streak in the Major Leagues, the longest hitting streak of the year for a Ranger, and it ties Andrus’s career high hitting streak done previously in 2013.

*     The top prospect the Rangers received in their July trades was left-handed starting pitcher Taylor Hearn.  He made his debut with AA Frisco Friday night and caused a buzz.  Hearn’s fastball ranged from 91 to 96, but usually toward the upper end of that range.  He went 5-1/3rd innings allowing a run on three hits, while striking out eight batters, including all three in the second inning.

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DESERT SPLIT

BY:   Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers started the week with a split of their two game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.  Texas ran their winning streak to four games with a win on Monday, but lost Tuesday to finish the road trip 4-1.

The overriding focus though was on Tuesday’s trade deadline.  The Rangers made two more trades after arriving in Phoenix sending pitchers Keone Kela and Jake Diekman to the Pirates and Diamondbacks respectively.  Perhaps of more note are the players that weren’t traded – Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo in particular.

General manager Jon Daniels visited in the Fox Southwest television booth Tuesday and summed up the trade activity saying, “Ultimately, we walked away with nine prospects and two guys on the big league club.”  In total the Rangers made five trades.

In addition to the two this week, the Rangers sent Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez to the Cubs in separate deals, and effectively bought a pitching prospect and a Major League relief pitcher from the Giants by taking on the salary of outfielder Austin Jackson.

As for the games, the Rangers started with a 9-5 win on Monday.  Choo was the star of the game hitting a pair of opposite field home runs to drive in four runs.  The Diamondbacks led 1-0 after one inning and 4-3 after five innings, but the Rangers scored in each of the final five innings of the game for the win.

Martin Perez was the starting pitcher, and he completed five innings allowing four runs, three of which were unearned.  Beltre made the error that led to the unearned runs.  Eddie Butler, the Major League reliever received in the Hamels trade, was the winning pitcher, improving to 2-1 for the season.

On Tuesday, Bartolo Colon got knocked around for five runs on seven hits over five innings.  On this night though, the D-Backs didn’t need much offense to win as their starting pitcher, Zack Godley, was magnificent.  He allowed just two hits over the first seven innings.  T. J. McFarland finished up the final two innings and gave up two more hits to the Rangers.  All four hits were singles.  The final score was 6-0, as the Rangers went 0-2 with runners in scoring position.

Jeffrey Springs, a left-handed reliever, was called up from AAA Round Rock on Tuesday.  He gets the first shot at replacing Diekman in the bullpen.  He made his Major League debut by pitching two innings in relief of Colon.  He did allow a run, but he looked good in striking out three of the six batters he retired.

Texas is off on Wednesday.  This weekend they are back home for four games with Baltimore.  The announced starting pitchers are Yovani Gallardo on Thursday, Ariel Jurado on Friday, Mike Minor on Saturday, and Martin Perez on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     Eddie Butler threw just one pitch in Monday’s game to earn the win.

*     Rougned Odor was selected as Player of the Month for the Rangers in July, and he will garner consideration for July Player of the month in the American League.  He hit .341 with six home runs and a .625 slugging percentage in 24 games.

*     Elvis Andrus has a 12 game hitting streak.

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A SWEEP AFTER BEING SWEPT

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Inexplicably, the Texas Rangers bounced back from being swept in four games by Oakland at home by sweeping a three game series with the Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park.  Rougned Odor continued to stake his claim to the Rangers’ Player of the Month Award for July by going 6-9 with four runs scored, and two RBIs on two home runs, one an inside the parker.  All three Ranger starting pitchers earned a win.

Texas is 45-62 on the season, still 22 games out of first place.  They now trail the Angels by nine games for getting out of the American League West basement.  The Astros fall to 67-40.

The highlight of the weekend came Saturday night.  Ariel Jurado was summoned from AA Frisco to start in place of Cole Hamels after Hamels was traded to the Cubs.  Unquestionably, if the Rangers are going to return to being a contending team, they need to develop starting pitching, and Jurado is one of the top pitching prospects in the minor league system.

Jurado was terrific.  He completed six innings, allowing a run on two hits.  He walked one batter and struck out two.

Texas led 2-1 when Jurado was replaced by Jose Leclerc.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Odor had homered for the two Ranger runs off Justin Verlander.  When Velander left the game, the Rangers padded the lead with a run in the seventh inning and put the game away with four runs in the ninth inning.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up two runs in the ninth inning to make the final score 7-3.  Jurado is 1-1 with the win, as he lost earlier this year in his only other Major League start in Chicago.

Yovani Gallardo started the series with a fine pitching performance.  Gallardo was knocked out in the sixth inning as his pitch count approached 100, but he allowed just two hits and no runs.  He now has thrown 11-1/3rd consecutive shutout innings.

Meanwhile, the Rangers pushed across a second inning run on the safety squeeze play.  Robinson Chirinos hit a two run home run in the fifth inning to push the lead to 3-0.  Shin-Soo Choo tripled home a run in the sixth inning, and then scored on a sacrifice fly extending the lead to 5-0.

Houston got on the scoreboard in the seventh inning, but the Rangers matched their run in the eighth.  The Lawmen then exploded in the ninth inning for five runs to make it a rout.  Jurickson Profar homered leading off the inning.  The Rangers then put together an old fashion rally to score four more runs on five singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly.

The final score was 11-2.  Gallardo is 5-1 with the win.  The Rangers have amazingly scored 59 runs (8.4 runs per game) in the seven games Gallardo has started since joining the Rangers’ rotation.

Sunday’s game was much closer.  Houston’s Tyler White homered in the second inning to take the Astros’ first lead of the series at 1-0.  It proved to be the only lead they would have, and it lasted just two full innings, before the Rangers tied it in the fifth when Delino DeShields drove the run home with a ground rule double.

The Rangers took the lead with three sixth inning runs.  Odor and Profar opened the inning with doubles to plate the first run.  Profar moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error.  Ronald Guzman then drove home the third run of the inning with a double.

The Astros answered with a run in their half of the sixth inning cutting the lead to 4-2.  That was all the damage the Spacemen could do against Ranger starter Mike Minor.  He finished six innings, giving up the two runs on four hits.  He struck out eight and walked one.

Alex Claudio and Jose Leclerc shut down Houston in the seventh and eighth innings.  Closer Keone Kela gave up a hit and walked two in the ninth inning to score another run.  That pushed the score to 4-3, but Houston’s come back ended when George Springer fouled out to the catcher to end the game.

Kela earned his 24th save in 25 opportunities.  Minor is 7-6 with the win.

Before the weekend, the Astros had not been swept in a series this season and had not lost more than three games in a row.  The Rangers’ sweep ended both of those streaks, as Houston had lost the game before the series began.  The Astros did play this series without two of their most important players – shortstop Carlos Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve.

Both teams now go on the road.  The Astros are off to Seattle for three games to start an eight game road trip.  It’s an important series for Houston as second place Seattle has crept to within four games in the standings and three in the loss column of the Astros.

The Rangers finish this five game road trip with Monday and Tuesday games in Arizona.  The announced starting pitchers for the Rangers are Martin Perez and Bartolo Colon.  The Rangers last faced the Diamondbacks in 2015.  Texas has a 4-4 record in inter-league play this year.

The non-waiver trade deadline is less than 48 hours away (3:00 PM Central on Tuesday).  The Rangers most likely to be traded before the deadline are relievers Keone Kela and Jake Diekman as well as third baseman Adrian Beltre.  Jose Leclerc has also been rumored to be the subject of trade talks.

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers tied two other teams Sunday for the most strikeouts in a nine inning game win.  Texas batters struck out 19 times Sunday afternoon.  Every position player that played – 10 in all – struck out at least once with Shin-Soo Choo leading the way with four and Joey Gallo and Willie Calhoun following close behind with three.

*     Seven Ranger players aged 25 or less appeared in Sunday’s game.

*     The season series between Houston and Texas finished with Houston winning 12 games and Texas seven.

*     Rougned Odor was 5-5 Saturday setting his career high in hits in a game.  It was the first five hit game for a Ranger since 2013.

*     Rollie Lacy, the pitching prospect the Rangers received from the Cubs in the Cole Hamels deal made his first start in the Rangers’ system Sunday.  He completed five shutout innings for the High-A Down East Wood Ducks (Kinston, North Carolina) allowing just two hits, while striking out seven and walking three.

 

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OAKLAND SWEEPS PAST RANGERS

COLE HAMELS TRADED TO CUBS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Oakland Athletics completed a four game sweep of the Texas Rangers Thursday night.  Oakland blasted Texas pitching for 28 runs in the first two games, and then completed the sweep with one-run wins in the final two games.  The hot Oakland A’s move to within one game of Seattle for the second Wild Card playoff berth and to within six games of first place Houston in the American League West.

Texas ended the home stand with a pitiful 1-6 record.  For the season, they fall to 20 games under .500 at 42-62.  They are now a season high 25 games behind the Astros in the West.  As for getting out of last place, they are 10 games behind the fourth place Los Angeles Angels.

The bigger Ranger news though was the trade of Cole Hamels.  The Twitter-Verse lit up with details of the trade Thursday night.  Hamels is following Jesse Chavez to the Chicago Cubs.

The trade was officially announced Friday morning.  The Rangers are getting a starting pitcher that has been in Low-A – Rollie Lacy – as the center piece player in return.  Lacy, who tweeted that the first Major League game he ever saw was a Ranger game in Arlington, was assigned to High-A Down East.  The Rangers are kicking in approximately $8,000,000 to cover the $6,000,000 buyout of the club option on Hamels for 2019, and $2,000,000 more to offset this year’s remaining salary.  Texas also receives Eddie Butler, a pitcher that was on the Cubs’ roster.  He will initially be used in the bullpen, but could join the starting rotation later this season.  Finally, the Rangers are getting a player to be named later.  The teams have agreed on a list of players in the Cubs’ system from which the Rangers will choose.  The list has players that are not currently on Chicago’s 40-man roster and includes both pitchers and position players.

Hamels was the Rangers’ starting pitcher in Monday night’s series opening game.  He started nicely, retiring Oakland on eight pitches in the first inning.  The second inning didn’t go so well.  A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out.  Hamels’ former catcher with the Rangers – Jonathan Lucroy – then planted a low outside pitch in the left field seats – grand slam home run and 4-0 lead for Oakland.

The carnage wasn’t over.  Hamels walked another batter and then gave up a single and a Khris Davis double to plate the fifth run of the inning.  Davis always seems to haunt the Rangers, and did he ever in this series.

Texas came back with two runs in the third inning on Elvis Andrus’s third home run of the year.  However, Stephen Piscotty matched Andrus with a two run shot in the fifth inning to extend the A’s lead to 7-2.  That finished Hamels’ night.  Five innings pitched.  Seven runs, all earned, allowed on nine hits and two walks.

Matt Moore relieved, and his miserable year continued.  He pitched the sixth inning, but couldn’t complete the seventh as the A’s touched him for five runs on six hits.  Alex Claudio relieved Moore and finished the seventh inning, but when Claudio got into trouble in the eighth inning, Ranger manager Jeff Banister had seen enough of his relief corps.  He brought in outfielder Carlos Tocci to get the final two outs.

Ryan Rua was then summoned to pitch the ninth inning.  It was the first time in Ranger history that two position players pitched in a game.  15-3 was the final score.  Hamels is 5-9 with the loss, and his ERA is up to 4.72.

On Tuesday, the Rangers suffered their most disillusioning loss of the season.  Mike Minor was the starting pitcher, and he pitched well, despite struggling with his control.  The control problems caused him to throw 104 pitches to eke through five innings.  On the scoreboard though, the A’s had only a pair of solo home runs.

When Minor left the mound, the score was tied at two, but the Rangers scored two runs in their half of the fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead and put Minor in line to be the winning pitcher.  An inning later, the Rangers seemingly had the game put away, as they exploded for six more runs to take a 10-2 lead to the seventh inning.

From there, nothing went right for the Lawmen.  Oakland scored three in the seventh and four in the eighth to pull within one run at 10-9.  The problem was that Ranger relievers could not get the ball over the plate.

Brandon Mann, the fresh bullpen arm summoned from AAA started the seventh inning.  He retired just one batter while walking two and allowing a hit.  Jose Leclerc finished the inning, but not before all three runners Mann put on base scored.

Jake Diekman took over in the eighth inning.  He got the first batter to ground out, but then walked the bases loaded.  He then coaxed a tailor made double play ground ball to shortstop Elvis Andrus.  Andrus booted the ball, and all the runners were safe.  Diekman then hit a batter to force home the third run of the inning and finish his night on the mound.  Keone Kela relieved and gave up a single that scored two more runs before retiring the side.

Stephen Piscotty hit Kela’s first pitch of the ninth inning for a game tying home run.  It was Kela’s first blown save of the season after earning 23 saves.

That sent the game to extra innings after the Rangers didn’t score in the ninth.  Khris Davis homered with two runners on base in the 10th inning to cap off the 13-10 win.  Austin Bibens-Dirkx surrendered the home run to take the loss and fall to 2-3.

On Wednesday, the Rangers suffered perhaps an even more demoralizing loss.  They built a 5-1 lead behind a terrific start from Martin Perez.  Robinson Chirinos hit a three run home run in the third inning, and the Rangers added two more in the fifth inning on run scoring singles from Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre.  Perez meanwhile completed six innings, allowing the run on seven hits.

Ranger killer Khris Davis, who had homered in the last five games between Oakland and Texas struck again in the seventh inning with a three run shot off Cory Gearrin.  That made the game a nail biter at 5-4.

It was still 5-4 when Oakland came to bat in the ninth inning.  Davis was due up fourth.  Leclerc was in to pitch, as Kela was unavailable after throwing 40 pitches the previous night.  Leclerc walked Nick Martini with one out, and when Jed Lowrie struck out instead of hitting into a double play; Davis got to bat again.  Texas got within one strike of the win, but Davis hit the only fast ball of the at bat into the right field seats on a 2-2 count.

That gave the A’s a 6-5 lead, which became the final score when all three Ranger hitters struck out in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Thursday’s game was a nip and tuck affair.  Both teams scored two runs in the first inning an another in the second inning.  Oakland put up three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead.  Texas cut that lead to a single run when Jurickson Profar tripled home two runs in the fifth inning.

Bartolo Colon weathered through seven innings.  The A’s added what proved to be a much needed insurance run in the eighth inning with a triple and sacrifice fly.

The Rangers had plenty of chances to score, and just did not capitalize.  They were 4-20 in the game with runners in scoring position.  They put the lead-off batter on base in each of the last three innings, but managed to score just one of them which came home on a wild pitch.

That made the final score 7-6 completing Oakland’s sweep.  Colon is 5-9 with the loss.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier from here for Texas.  They travel to Houston for three games this weekend.  The starting pitchers were announced as Yovani Gallardo on Friday night, Cole Hamels on Saturday night, and Mike Minor on Sunday afternoon.  With the trade of Hamels, Ariel Jurado will be called up from AA Frisco to start Saturday’s game.

This weekend will wrap up the season series with the Astros.  Houston has already staked its claim the Silver Boot trophy by winning 12 of the first 16 games between the two teams this season.

NOTABLE:

*     Rougned Odor was named American League “Player of the Week” for the week ended July 22.  He went 8-13 (.615) with a home run and three RBIs in the week abbreviated by the All-Star break.  He is the first Ranger to win the award this season.

*     There were five triples hit in Thursday’s game, four by the A’s and one by the Rangers.  It was the first game at Globe Life Ballpark with five triples.

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