TUMBLE IN TORONTO

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers finished their three city road trip, their second in a row, on a high note with a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon.  It was the best offensive showing in the otherwise miserable road trip.  The Rangers were 3-6, as they won one game in each series.

The series opening game on Monday night couldn’t have gone much worse.  The high point for the Rangers came when starting pitcher Ariel Jurado retired the Jays without a score in the first inning, and Nomar Mazara hit his 16th home run in the top of the second to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

From there, the game was downhill for the Rangers.  The Blue Jays rallied for two second inning runs, added three more in the third inning with a double and a pair of home runs, and then broke it open with eight fourth inning runs.

Jurado was knocked out in the fourth inning having been tagged for eight runs on 11 hits.  Adrian Sampson finished the inning, and he was charged with five runs on three hits.  Brett Martin and Jesse Chavez followed Sampson.  Each pitched an inning, and each gave up two runs.  Rafael Montero pitched the seventh inning, and he was the only Ranger pitcher on the night that wasn’t scored upon.  Catcher Jeff Mathis pitched the eighth inning and gave up Toronto’s final two runs.

Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor homered in the seventh inning, and Jose Trevino singled home a run in the ninth to make the final score 19-4.  Jurado is 6-8 with the loss, and Brock Stewart, who took the mound in the second inning after Neil Ramirez opened with a scoreless first inning, was the winning pitcher.  He’s 2-0.

The Rangers’ offense continued to snooze in game two.  They managed just five hits – two doubles and three singles, and were shutout 3-0.  Lance Lynn was the starting pitcher, and he ended his streak of completing at least six innings.  He gave up a run on four hits over the first five innings, but he needed 101 pitches to labor through five.  Shawn Kelley relieved and surrendered the other two Blue Jay runs.

Lynn is 14-8 with the loss.while Thomas Pannone is 3-5 with the win.  Pannone entered the game in the third inning, after former Ranger Wilmer Font opened the game for Toronto with a two inning stint.  Ken Giles pitched the ninth to earn his 16th save.

Wednesday’s getaway game was an afternoon affair, and the Ranger bats responded to the daylight.  Delino DeShields singled home a run in the second inning, and the Rangers never trailed in the game.  Danny Santana doubled home two runs in the fourth inning, and Elvis Andrus then drove Santana home with a single to extend the lead to 4-0.  Andrus doubled home Santana again in the sixth.  Mazara and Santana homered in the seventh and eighth innings to boost the Ranger run total to seven.

Kolby Allard, the prospect the Rangers received from Atlanta for reliever Chris Martin, made his second Ranger start and was quite good.  He pitched into the sixth inning to earn the win, his first with the Rangers and second in the Majors.  He was charged with three runs, but two of those scored after Allard left the game.  Three Ranger relievers were unscored upon to finish the game, making the final score 7-3.

Allard is 1-0 with the win, and Toronto’s Sean Reid-Foley is 2-1 with the loss.

This weekend is the “player’s weekend”.  Teams will wear special jerseys with  players’ names of their choice on the back.

The Rangers are home this weekend to start an eight game home stand played in seven days.  Minnesota is the first opponent in town starting Thursday night.  The announced pitchers for Texas are Pedro Payano (1-1) on Thursday, Mike Minor (11-7) on Friday, Ariel Jurado (6-8) is Saturday’s starting pitcher, and Lance Lynn (14-8) is scheduled to start Sunday.  Game times (all Central) are 7:05 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 PM on Sunday afternoon.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Josh Hamilton will be inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame.  Hamilton is perhaps the most talented player ever to wear a Ranger uniform, and he was the heart and soul of the only two Ranger teams in history that reached the World Series.  Former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene will also be inducted.

NOTABLE:

*     Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled a runner from second to third base in Monday’s ninth inning.  Jose Trevino followed with a run scoring single.  They were the first two hits with runners in scoring position on the road trip, as the Rangers were 0-26 going into the Monday’s ninth inning.  Texas went 6-40 with runners in scoring position during the nine game road trip.

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ONE RUN GAMES!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers avoided a sweep by the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday with an outstanding pitching performance to win 1-0.  All three games in the series were decided by one run, and the Rangers have now played 37 one run games in 2019 to lead the Majors.  Texas finished the week 2-4, with both wins being by the score of 1-0.

Mike Minor started Sunday and threw his second consecutive great game.  Minor certainly struggled in July with one win and a 6.58 ERA, but once the trade deadline passed and the calendar flipped to August, he has reverted back to being the staff ace Ranger fans saw over the first three months of the season.  He zapped the Brewers Sunday over eight innings allowing just four hits and one walk.  He struck out 11.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee starter Jordan Lyles was matching scoreless innings with Minor until the seventh, when Rougned Odor doubled following a lead-off walk to Willie Calhoun to put runners at second and third with no outs.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa plated the run by shortening his swing to assure contact.  His fly ball to right field was deep enough to easily score Calhoun with the only run of the game.

Jose Leclerc secured the win with a three up three down ninth inning.  He earned his eighth save, and Minor is 11-6 with the win.  Lyles fell to 7-8 with the loss.

Colby Allard, the pitcher the Rangers received from the Braves in the Chris Martin trade, was Friday night’s starting pitcher.  Ryan Braun doubled home Lorenzo Cain in the first inning to put the Brewers ahead 1-0.

Allard then settled in to toss three scoreless innings while Hunter Pence homered in the fourth inning to tie the game.  However, Allard again ran into trouble in the fifth inning.  Two walks and an infield single loaded the bases and ended Allard’s night on the mound.  Adrian Sampson relieved and promptly walked in a run before striking out two batters to end the inning.

In the Rangers’ sixth inning, three walks loaded the bases and a wild pitch scored the runner at third to tie the game at two.  Shawn Kelley came in to pitch the seventh inning.  He got two quick outs, but then ran into trouble.  A double, an intentional walk and an unintentional walk loaded the bases.  A single and a double followed to unload the bases and put the Brewers ahead 5-2.

However, the Rangers came back to tie it with Logan Forsythe’s two run home run in the eighth inning and Elvis Andrus’s solo shot in the ninth.  The Rangers had just four hits in the game, but three were home runs enabling them to score five runs.

Emmanuel Clase entered to pitch the ninth inning.  He got a strike out and a ground out, but the third batter he faced, Eric Thames, homered for the walk-off 6-5 Brewer win.

Clase is 0-1 with the loss.  Josh Hader pitched the ninth for Milwaukee and got the win, going to 2-5.

On Saturday, Pedro Payano started and struggled.  He simply could not put the ball where he wanted to.  He threw 70 pitches to get through three innings, surprisingly giving up just two runs, including a home run to Brewers’ second baseman Keston Hiura.

Bret Martin relieved and gave up another run in the fourth inning to put Milwaukee ahead 3-0.  Taylor Guerrieri and Sampson blanked Milwaukee over the last four innings.

Their relief effort was for naught though, as the Rangers’ offense mustered just two runs on the night.  Danny Santana and Shin-Soo Choo homered in the sixth and eighth innings for the Ranger runs, making the final score 3-2.

Payano is 1-1 with the loss.  Brewers’ starting pitcher Adrian Houser is 5-5 with the win.  Matt Albers earned his third save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Texas holds onto third place in the American League West at 59-58.  They trail second place Oakland by 7.5 games (seven in the loss column), and lead fourth place Los Angeles by two games (three in the loss column).  Texas is now nine games out of the second Wild Card playoff berth.

The Rangers finish this three city road trip in Toronto.  The Blue Jays are one of the A. L.’s rebuilding teams currently 23 games under .500.  They have caused excitement with three rookies that have joined the team since the season commenced.  All three are sons of former Major League players – Vlad Guerrero, Jr., Cavan Biggio (son of Craig), and Bo Bichette (son of Dante).

The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Ariel Jurado (6-7) on Monday, Lance Lynn (14-7) on Tuesday, and Kolby Allard (0-1) on Wednesday.  Monday’s and Tuesday’s games are scheduled to start at 6:07 PM (Central), while Wednesday’s matinee is scheduled at 12:07 PM (Central.)

NOTABLE:

*     The Rangers scored a total of 10 runs in this week’s six games and had six or fewer hits in each game.

*     Mike Minor was the winning pitcher in both games that Texas won last week.  He threw 15 shutout innings to earn the wins.

*     The Rangers finished inter-league play this year with a 9-11 record.

 

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DOUBLE DISAPPOINTMENT IN CLEVELAND

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Texas Rangers disappointingly dropped an old fashioned double header Wednesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland to lsoe this week’s series to the Tribe two games to one.  Texas managed to score just two runs in the three games, but stellar starting pitching performances kept the Rangers in every game.

The series began with a marvelously played game that moved the Rangers’ winning streak to five games with a 1-0 win.  Mike Minor pitched his best game since throwing a complete game shutout June 26, as he blanked the Indians for seven innings.  Jesse Chavez and Jose Leclerc took care of the eighth and ninth innings to complete the shutout.  Minor is 10-6 with the win, and Leclerc earned his seventh save.

Quite frankly the Rangers’ offense didn’t do much.  Hats off to Indians’ starter Aaron Civali, who pitched perhaps even better than Minor.  Elvis Andrus, always a difficult out when the Tribe is the opponent, got his second hit of the game in the sixth inning – a triple.  He scored on a sacrifice fly on a ball hit to shallow right field.  It was a close play at home, but Andrus was safe.  Civali gave up the run in his six innings of work to take the loss and go to 1-1.

The good fortune ended there.  The Wednesday game was rained out forcing a doubleheader on Thursday.  On the surface, the rainout appeared to benefit the Rangers.  They had a scheduled off day Thursday, while the Tribe opened an important four-game series on the road against the team they are chasing for the American League Central title – the Minnesota Twins.

The Rangers had Ariel Jurdado and Lance Lynn slated to be the starting pitchers in the doubleheader.  The Indians decided to go with Zach Plesac in game one, but pushed Steve Clevenger a day to face the Twins, making game two of the doubleheader a bullpen game.  A. J. Cole was the only Indian hurler to throw more than two innings.

Both Ranger starters did well.  In game one, Jurado didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and completed seven innings.  The only scoreboard damage was a home run off the bat of Jose Ramirez.  Jurado gave up just three hits total, and Emmanuel Clase pitched a three up, three down eighth inning.

The Rangers’ offense was dormant though, and was shut out despite outhitting Cleveland 6-3.  1-0 was the final score.  Jurado is 6-7 with the loss, while Nick Goody (3-0) in relief of Plesac was the winner for Cleveland.  Brad Hand pitched the scoreless ninth inning to earn his 28th save.

In game two, Lynn did what he what he usually does.  He finished seven innings and threw more than 100 pitches, giving up two runs.  5-1 was the final score after the Indians put the game away with three eighth inning runs off reliever Jesse Chavez.  Lynn is 14-7 with the loss, while Cole (3-1) is the winning pitcher for the Tribe.

It was definitely disappointing to see the five game winning streak come to an end and to not win the series with at least a split on Wednesday.  The Rangers still hold onto third place in the American League West, leading fourth place Los Angeles by 2.5 games (two in the loss column) and trailing second place Oakland by 6.5 games (six in the loss column).  The waning hopes of earning a Wild Card berth weren’t helped by the two Wednesday losses.  They now trail Tampa Bay by seven games (six in the loss column) for the second Wild Card slot with Oakland and Boston also ahead of Texas.

The three city road trip continues this weekend in Milwaukee.  This will complete inter-league play on the Rangers’ schedule.  After an off day Thursday, Kolby Allard will make his Ranger debut as Friday night’s starting pitcher.  Allard is the left-handed starting pitcher Texas received from Atlanta in the Chris Martin trade.  Pedro Payano (1-0) is the announced starter for Saturday and Mike Minor (10-6) is Sunday’s announced starting pitcher.  Game times (Central) are 7:10 PM on Friday, 6:10 PM on Saturday, and 1:10 PM on Sunday.

NOTABLE:

*     Lance Lynn has thrown 100 or more pitches in a game 22 times this year, the most in baseball.  That includes as streak of 15 straight games with at least 100 pitches thrown.  He has also completed at least six innings in 19 straight games.  That ties him with Clayton Kershaw for the longest such streak in baseball, and it’s the most consecutive six inning starts for a Ranger pitcher since Kenny Rogers had 24 straight in 1995.

*     The last series the Rangers won against a team with a winning record was against the Cardinals at home May 17, 18 and 19.

 

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A SERIES WIN!

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – This weekend, the Texas Rangers won their first series since June 25-27 when they swept the Detroit Tigers in three games.  The previous series win was also a three game sweep of the Tigers, such that the Rangers completed the season with a 6-0 record against the Bengals.  The woeful Tigers are just 3-19 at this point against American League West teams and have the worst record in the A. L. at 32-75, a winning percentage of .299.

Friday night, Texas opened with a 5-4 win.  Texas built a 5-1 lead after seven innings as they scored single runs in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.  The Rangers had 12 hits in the game including home runs from Rougned Odor and Hunter Pence.

Meanwhile, Lance Lynn, the work horse of the pitching staff, threw seven innings of one run ball.  He gave up just four hits and struck out 10.

Jesse Chavez threw the eighth inning.  He gave up a one out double and single to bring the score to 5-2.

With Chris Martin traded and Shawn Kelley on the injured list, manager Chris Woodward turned to Jose Leclerc for the ninth inning and the save.  Leclerc walked the leadoff batter, always a bad sign.  He retired the next two batters, but the third out didn’t come easy.  The next two batters singled to make the score 5-3 with runners at first and second.  Another walk loaded the bases, and a wild pitch scored the Tigers’ fourth run.  However, Leclerc coaxed a ground ball out to secure the 5-4 win.

Lynn is 14-6 with the win.  Leclerc has his sixth save.  Tigers’ starter Tyler Alexander took the loss to go to 0-2.

The Rangers put a new look to Saturday’s starting lineup against the Tigers’ best starting pitcher – left-hander Matt Boyd.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa was on third base, and Jose Trevino made his 2019 Major League debut behind the plate.  Scott Heineman was in right field, and Willie Calhoun was in left field selected over left-handed hitting outfielders Nomar Mazara and Shin-Soo Choo.

Adrian Sampson was hit hard early, but managed to give up just two runs over the first four innings on a two-run shot by Miguel Cabrera.  Trevino singled home a run in the third inning, and Calhoun homered in the fourth to tie the game.

However Sampson ran into trouble in the fifth inning giving up a single, a double and another single with two outs to put the Tigers back in front 4-2.

Trevino reached second base on a fielding error to open the Rangers’ seventh inning.  He later scored on Delino DeShields’ double.  DeShields advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a short fly ball to right field.  It was a close play at home and safe to say that DeShields is the only Ranger fast enough to score on that fly ball.

The game stayed tied into extra innings when Odor ended it with a 10th inning home run, his 20th on the season.  Leclerc had pitched a perfect top half of the 10th to earn the win.  He’s 2-3.  Detroit reliever Nick Ramirez gave up Odor’s round tripper to take the loss.  He’s 5-4.

Texas completed the sweep on Sunday with four pitchers that were not on the opening day roster, or even given much consideration to be part of it.  Pedro Payano started and gave up three runs over 4-1/3rd innings.

Emmanuel Clase made his Major League debut relieving Payano.  He finished the fifth and pitched the sixth inning giving up no hits or runs.

Brett Martin started the seventh inning, and the Tigers nicked him for an unearned run to tie the game at four.  Rafael Montero finished the seventh as well as the eighth and ninth innings.  He got the win to go to 1-0 when the Rangers scored four runs in their half of the seventh inning.  Willie Calhoun’s bases loaded triple, Calhoun’s first in the Majors, broke the game open.

Texas added an insurance run in the eighth inning to make the final score 9-4.

Texas has moved past Los Angeles into third place in the West.  They are two games ahead of the Angels, but trail second place Oakland by 6.5 games.  The Rangers are seven games behind Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card berth, with Oakland and Boston also ahead of them.

The Rangers take their four-game winning streak to Cleveland for a three game series beginning Monday night.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Mike Minor (9-6) on Monday, Ariel Jurado (6-6) on Tuesday, and Lance Lynn (14-6) on Wednesday.  The first two games start at 6:10 CDT, while Wednesday’s getaway game begins at 12:10 CDT.

NOTABLE:

*     Emmanuel Clase hit 101 on the radar gun with his fastball Sunday, becoming the first pitcher to crack triple digits this year.

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SEATTLE SPLIT

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The trade deadline passed Wednesday afternoon, and Mike Minor was still a Ranger.  He started Wednesday’s game, but completed a lousy July with a lousy performance giving up five runs, all earned, in five innings.  The Rangers however rallied from 1-0 and 5-3 deficits to win 9-7 and gain a split in this abbreviated two game series.

The Rangers plastered Seattle’s pitching for 16 hits, with Hunter Pence and Danny Santana leading the way with three hits each.  Willie Calhoun homered with two runners on base to drive in three Ranger runs.  He was one of five Ranger batsmen to record RBIs.

The Rangers re-took the lead from the 5-3 deficit in time to make Minor the winning pitcher.  He’s 9-6 with his first win since June 23.  Four Ranger relievers held the Mariners largely in check allowing two runs on four hits.  Jesse Chavez pitched the ninth inning to earn his first save of the year.  With Chris Martin in Atlanta and Shawn Kelley on the injured list, Chavez appears to be the closer at this point in the season.

Tuesday’s game was the last before the trade deadline for both teams.  The looming trade deadline made for a strange atmosphere for both teams.  Ranger reliever Chris Martin left the bullpen shortly after the game began, and by the fourth inning, the Twitter universe was reporting that Martin had been traded to the Atlanta Braves for AAA starting pitcher Kolby Allard.

For the Rangers, the game did not go well.  Ariel Jurado was hit hard, giving up solo home runs in the first and second innings.  Sloppy fielding led to three more runs as the Mariners led 5-1 after five innings.  Three Ranger errors contributed to two unearned runs in the game, and at least two more plays weren’t made that should have been made to contribute the Seattle’s run total.

Danny Santana led off the sixth inning with a home run, his 16th to cut the deficit to 5-2.  Rougned Odor doubled home two runs, and he later scored on Delino DeShields’ single to tie the game.

The joy was short lived.  A lead-off walk to Daniel Vogelbach ended Brett Martin’s night on the mound.  A throwing error put a second runner on base.  They both scored Kyle Seager’s triple.  Seager then scored on Tom Murphy’s single to make the score 8-5, which was the final.

Brett Martin (1-2) was the losing pitcher.  Mariner reliever Sam Tuivailala (1-0) got the win.  Roenis Elias pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 14th save.  It was his third against the Rangers in eight days, but it will be his last this season, as he was traded Wednesday to the Washington Nationals.

The Rangers trade of Martin proved to be the most significant this year.  Trading Mike Minor was certainly a consideration, but at 3:00 PM Central on Wednesday, there was no acceptable offer.  Hunter Pence, who will be a free agent at season’s end, looked like a prime candidate to be moved, but the two teams most interested in a right-handed power bat went in another direction.

The Rangers have a second off day this week on Thursday and then host the Detroit Tigers over the weekend.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Lance Lynn (13-6) on Friday, Adrian Sampson (6-8) on Saturday, and Pedro Payano (1-0) on Sunday.  Friday’s and Saturday’s games are scheduled to begin at 7:05 PM, and Sunday’s at 2:05 PM.  (Central time zone)

NOTABLE:

*     Rougned Odor has been much maligned for his offense this season with a .208 batting average and .270 on base percentage.  However, he has hit 18 home runs, and in the two games against Seattle, he drove in four runs to bring his season total to 62, which leads the Rangers.

*     Mike Minor was 1-2, with a 6.59 ERA in five July starts.

*. The Rangers indicated after Wednesday’s game that Asdrubal Cabrera and Tim Federowicz would be designated for assignment prior to Friday’s game, and that Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino would be added to the roster.

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DISAPPOINTING LOSS ENDS ROAD TRIP

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

Ranger manager Chris Woodward has often said that scoring first is one of the best ways to win a game.  In this weekend’s series, Oakland scored first in all four games, but the Rangers came back to win twice to gain a split in the series and finish the road trip 3-7.  Texas comes home with a 53-53 record that keeps them in fourth place in the American League West, 14.5 games behind the first place Astros.

Sunday’s series finale ended in a 6-5 walk-off win for Oakland.  Pedro Payano was the Rangers’ starter.  It was his first official start in the Majors, and he did well.  He gave up a home run to Marcus Semien in the third inning, but the Rangers answered with home runs from Danny Santana and Nomar Mazara in the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead.

The Athletics knocked Payano out in their half of the sixth scoring three runs to take a 4-2 lead.  The Rangers re-took the lead in the eighth inning with Mazara singling home  a run to pull within one.  Willie Calhoun then doubled home a second run to tie the game, and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in the go ahead run on a ground out.

The game went to the bottom of the ninth, and surprisingly Jose Leclerc took the mound for Texas.  He was pitching for the third straight day and the fourth day out of the last five.  The expected pitcher in the ninth, Chris Martin, was not available with back stiffness.

Leclerc simply could not put hitters away.  He gave up a single to Chris Herrmann after getting ahead in the count 1-2.  He then walked Marcus Semien after getting ahead 0-2.  He coaxed a fly out to short right field, but that was the only out he would record.  A single tied the game.  Two walks, the first intentional, followed to drive home the game winner.

Leclerc is the losing pitcher going to 1-3.  He was also charged with his third blown save.  Blake Treinen is 4-3 with the win.

In Thursday’s opening game, Ariel Jurado was touched for three runs in the first inning, giving up a bases loaded single and a sacrifice fly.  The Athletics had just two hits in the inning, but Jurado aided their cause with a pair of walks.

From there, Jurado was brilliant.  He finished with six scoreless innings after the first, allowing just one more hit to earn a quality start.

The Rangers finally cracked the scoreboard with five runs in the fifth inning to take the lead.  Four of the first five Rangers singled to bring home a run and load the bases.  A double, a sacrifice fly and another single brought home four more runs.

Texas iced the game an inning later by scoring five more runs.  Shin-Soo Choo brought home the first run of the inning with a bases loaded single.  Santana followed with a grand slam home run.

Santana was the offensive star of the game, finishing with three hits in five at bats and a career high six RBIs.  Cabrera singled home another run in the seventh inning to make the final score 11-3.

Jurado is 6-6 with the win.  Oakland starting pitcher Brett Anderson fell to 9-6 with the loss.

Friday night’s game had a similar flow.  Ranger starter Lance Lynn gave up single runs in the first and third innings.  Texas then cracked the scoreboard in the fourth inning, taking the lead with a pair of two-out run scoring doubles followed by a single.

Cabrera singled following two walks in the sixth inning to drive in another run that extended the Rangers’ lead to 4-2.  Calhoun homered in the eighth inning to cap the Rangers’ scoring on the night.

Lynn finished six innings, allowing the two runs on four hits.  Jesse Chavez, Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin shut down the A’s on one hit over the final three innings, as the Rangers won 5-2.

Lynn is 13-6 with the win, while Martin earned his fourth save.  Oakland’s Daniel Mengden was the losing pitcher, falling to 5-2.

Saturday, Adrian Sampson started and gave up five runs on six hits.  Four of the hits were home runs that drove in Oakland’s scores.  The Rangers pulled close by pushing four runs across in the seventh inning, which ended with Elvis Andrus getting thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single.  A strong throw by Chad Pinder cut down Andrus at the plate to snuff out the rally.

Saturday’s game was marred by a benches clearing ruckus in the eighth inning.  The causative action was Ramon Laureano getting hit by a pitch from Rafael Montero.  Laureano had earlier hit a home run, and was slow heading to run the bases as he admired the flight of the ball.  Sampson took issue with that, and the two started jawing at each other.

The eighth inning hit by pitch smacked of a payback.  Woodward and Montero were both ejected.

The final score was 5-4 as neither team scored in the eighth and ninth innings.  Sampson is 6-8 with the loss.  Oakland’s Homer Bailey got the win after allowing three runs in 6-2/3rds innings.  He’s 9-7.  Liam Hendricks closed out Texas in the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.

The Rangers are off Monday before opening a five game home stand.  Seattle arrives first for two games.  Ariel Jurado (6-6) will start Tuesday, and Mike Minor (8-6) will start Wednesday if he’s still a member of the team.  Minor’s turn in the rotation actually comes before Jurado’s, but Woodward decided to switch the order because of the speculation that Minor might be traded before Wednesday’s trade deadline.  Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM (Central).

NOTABLE:

*     After Thursday’s game, Elvis Andrus took a red eye flight back to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area where he was sworn in as a U. S. citizen at the Irving U. S. Citizenship and Immigration office on Friday morning.  He was back in Oakland for Friday night’s game.

*     The deadline for making trades is at 3:00 PM (Central) this Wednesday.

*     Danny Santana hit his 15th home run of the season Sunday afternoon, his second home run of the series.  Prior to this year, the most he had hit in a season was seven in 2014, and he had hit just 13 home runs total in his Major League career.

 

 

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SEATTLE TAKES TWO

ODOR HOMERS IN EACH GAME

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Seattle Mariners started the Rangers’ week by winning two of three games at T-Mobile Park.  The teams split the first two games, with Texas winning the second to end an eight game losing streak, but the Mariners came back with a win Wednesday afternoon to send the Rangers to their third straight series loss.  Texas is now 3-9 since the All-Star break to fall to .500 for the year at 51-51

On Monday night, the Mariners extended the Rangers’ losing streak to eight games.  The Rangers pushed across a run in the first inning, giving them their first lead in more than a week (since Saturday, July 13).  They added a run in the second inning, but in the bottom half, Seattle’s Austin Nola hit a three run home run, and the Rangers never led again.

Adrian Sampson was the Ranger starter that allowed the three run home run.  He pitched into the sixth inning allowing three more runs on a total of eight hits on the night.  He took the loss to go to 6-7.  It was his first start after three relief appearances.  He hasn’t won since June 23, losing all three of his starts since.

On the offensive side, Rougned Odor went 3-5, which included his 15th home run.

The final score was 7-3.  Marco Gonzalez was Seattle’s starting and winning pitcher.  He’s 11-8.  Roenis Elias earned the save, his 12th.

The losing streak came to an end on Tuesday, as two surprising players stepped up to be the stars of the game and spearhead the win.

On the offensive side, Odor again had three hits, including a pair of home runs.  The first home run came in the the third inning, with Joey Gallo on base via a bunt single.  It stretched the Ranger lead at the time to 6-1.  The performance raised his batting average to .203, the first time Odor had been above the Mendoza line (.200) since APRIL 3!

On the pitching side, Pedro Payano turned in a sterling performance.  Brett Martin threw the first inning as Payano’s opener, and Payano took the mound in the second inning with the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead.  He completed the next five innings to earn his first Major League win.  He gave up just one run on a pair of fourth inning doubles, but allowed just one other hit, while throwing 78 pitches.  Ranger manager Chris Woodward did not commit to Payano getting the start this Sunday when the rotation spot comes up again, but he indicated Payano was definitely in the discussion.

Shin-Soo Choo and Nomar Mazara also hit home runs.  Choo’s came on the first pitch of the game, while Mazara’s was a tremendous blast into the top deck in right field.  It was only the fourth home run ever hit into that deck since the stadium opened in 2000.

Tommy Milone was the Mariners’ starting and losing pitcher.  He gave up six runs in six innings, allowing three round trippers.  He’s 1-5 with the loss.  Odor’s second home run in the eighth inning made the final score 7-2.

Mike Minor was Wednesday’s starting pitcher, trying to lead the Rangers to a series win.  He gave up two home runs to Ryan Vogelbach.  The Mariners plated four runs in the fifth inning, starting with Vogelbach’s first home run to take the lead.  Texas answered with three in the sixth inning, all scoring on Odor’s home run.  Vogelbach homered again in the Mariners’ half of the sixth to complete the scoring.  5-3 was the final score.

Minor is 8-6 with the loss.  Seattle’s Mike Leak started and was the winning pitcher.  He’s 9-8, and Elias pitched a one-two-three ninth inning to earn his 13th save.

Texas finds itself Thursday morning in fourth place in the American League West, 14.5 games out of first.  The Rangers are 6.5 games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot.

The three city road trip concludes this weekend in Oakland.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Ariel Jurado (5-6) on Thursday, Lance Lynn (12-6) on Friday, Adrian Sampson (6-7) on Saturday and TBD on Sunday.  Game times (all Central) are 9:07 PM on Thursday and Friday, 8:07 pm on Saturday, and 3:07 PM on Sunday.

INJURY UPDATE: Joey Gallo came out of Tuesday’s game early with a sore wrist.  X-Rays were taken Wednesday and sent to Arlington for analysis.  They were inconclusive, so Gallo was sent to Arlington for further diagnosis.  It is likely that he will be placed on the IL, and Willie Calhoun is the likely call-up if that happens.

NOTABLE:

*     Last Monday’s game was the 100th of the season and consequently, the 100th of Chris Woodward’s managerial career.  The Rangers had 50 wins after Monday’s game, more than any of the last four Ranger managers after 100 games.  Jeff Banister had 48, Ron Washington had 44, Buck Showalter had 41, and Jerry Narron had 45.  Johnny Oates managed the Rangers before Narron, and he had 52 wins after his first 100 games.  (These figures courtesy of the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.)

 

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BROOMS IN HOUSTON

RANGERS CONTINUE TO FADE IN SECOND HALF

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Houston Astros completed a three game sweep of the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon.  The sweep extended the Rangers’ losing streak to seven games, a season high, while extending the Astros winning streak to five games.  Houston leads the season series 12 games to five, so has won this year’s Silver Boot trophy.

A series sweep was improbable as the Rangers had their top two starters available to start games one and three, while Houston was scrambling for two spot starters after Justin Verlander pitched the opening game.  Despite the starting pitching scramble, Houston was extremely dominating in this series.  Texas never held a lead in any of the three games.  Texas batters struck out 41 times with a double digit total in each game.  Houston held the Rangers to seven runs total in the series.

In Friday’s opener, Minor gave up a home run to Yuli Gurriel in the second inning.  In the third inning, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back-to back home runs to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-0.

Verlander and three relievers made those runs hold up for a 4-3 win.  Rougned Odor and Asdrubal Cabrera hit solo home runs in the Rangers’ sixth, and Elvis Andrus drove home a runner from third with a ground out to account for the Ranger runs.

Minor is 8-5 with the loss, though he did rally back from the home run barrage to finish seven innings.  Verlander is 12-4 with the win, and Roberto Osuna earned his 21st save.

Saturday night, the Rangers managed just two hits.  One was a Shin-Soo Choo home run to account for all the Ranger scoring.  No other Ranger batter even advanced as far as second base.  I. E., the Rangers were 0-0 with runners in scoring position.

Ariel Jurado started and completed five innings, allowing five runs.  Tony Kemp hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to top off the Astros’ offense, making the final score 6-1.

Jurado is 5-6 with the loss, while Jose Urquidy (formerly Jose Hernandez) pitched seven strong innings allowing the Ranger run and both hits.  He’s 1-0 with the win.

On Sunday, Lance Lynn was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he struck out 12 Astros in seven innings.  However, he did allow four runs on seven hits, which was enough to lose the game.  He threw 118 pitches, his 12th consecutive game to throw at least 100 pitches.

Danny Santana beat out an infield single to drive in a run in the third inning, cutting the Astros lead to 2-1 at the time.  It ended an 0-19 RISP streak for Texas dating back to last weekend, when the departed Willie Calhoun last had a hit with a runner in scoring position.  Nomar Mazara and Logan Forsythe hit solo home runs to complete the Rangers’ scoring to make the final score 5-3.

Lynn is 12-6 with the loss.  Rogelio Armenteros was the Astros’ spot starter on Sunday, and like Urquiddy the night before, he won his first Major League game.  He’s 1-0, and Osuna notched his 22nd save.

The Rangers have now fallen into fourth place in the American League West, trailing third place Los Angeles by one-half game, second place Oakland by 6.5 games, and first place Houston by 13 games.  They are 6.5 games out of the second Wild Card berth, but now have five teams to pass.

The Rangers’ 10 game road trip continues with divisional play on the West Coast.  They face Seattle Monday through Wednesday.  The announced starting pitchers are Adrian Sampson (6-6) on Monday and TBD on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Game times (Central) are 9:10 PM on Monday and Tuesday, and 2:40 PM on Wednesday.

NOTABLE:

*     Joe Palumbo was originally announced to start a game in Seattle, but he was scratched due to tendinitis in his leg.

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WIPED OUT BY THE SNAKES

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Arizona Diamondbacks blasted the Texas Rangers in two games this week taking 9-2 and 19-4 wins to sweep this week’s series and finish the season series with a 3-1 edge.  Texas now trails Houston by 9.5 games (nine in the loss column) in the American League West.  Oakland has moved to within shouting distance of the Astros, now just 4.5 games behind the Astros and five full games ahead of the Rangers.  Three teams are virtually tied for the two Wild Card playoff berths – Oakland, Cleveland and Tampa Bay.  The Rangers are five games behind those three, and the Angels are now just one-half game behind Texas.

Lance Lynn started the opening game with Arizona Tuesday night.  He finished six innings like he usually does, but Arizona’s hitters had a good game plan.  They put the ball in play.  Lynn usually has high strikeout totals, but recorded only six Tuesday, and Arizona catcher Alex Avila accounted for four of those.  The rest of the D-backs made contact.  Lynn gave up eight hits on the night, and five of them were softly hit with exit velocities of less than 80 mph.

The score was tied 1-1 after four innings, but Arizona broke the game open with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth inning.  Ildemaro Vargas had the big hit – a two run home run in the sixth inning that broke the game open at 5-1.

Arizona put four more on the board in a sloppy Ranger ninth inning to make the final score 9-2.  Joey Gallo homered, and Elvis Andrus hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the Ranger runs.

Lynn is 12-5 with the loss, and Arizona starter Alex Young, who attended TCU and lives in Dallas, was the winning pitcher.  He’s 3-0.

Wednesday’s game started bad and never got better.  The Diamondbacks batted around in the first inning putting seven runs on the scoreboard.  Ranger starting pitcher Jesse Chavez lasted just two-thirds of an inning.  Adrian Sampson relieved and didn’t do much better.  He finished the first inning and completed the second recording four outs total.  He was charged with five runs as Arizona led 12-0 as the Rangers came to bat in the second inning.

Hunter Pence led off the second with a single.  Danny Santana and Logan Forsythe followed with home runs to cut the deficit to 14-3, but that was the highlight of the night for the Rangers.

The D-Backs answered the Ranger rally with two runs in the third inning to move the score to 14-3.  They scored three more runs in the sixth inning, all driven in by Eduardo Escobar’s second home run of the night.  They finished off the night with single runs in the seventh and ninth innings.  The ninth inning run came on a home run hit by catcher Carson Kelly, who hit it off the Ranger catcher for the first eight innings – Tim Federowicz, who made his Major League pitching debut in the ninth.

The only answer the Rangers had was Santana’s second home run of the night in the sixth inning.

Chavez is 3-5 with the loss.  Arizona starter Robby Ray is 8-6 with the win.

The Rangers are in Houston this weekend after an off day on Thursday.  The announced Texas starting pitchers for the series are Mike Minor (8-4, 2.73) on Friday.  Ariel Jurado (5-5, 4.63 on Saturday, and Lance Lynn (12-5, 3.87) on Sunday.

The Astros’ rotation is almost as troubled as the Rangers’.  Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.98) is the announced starter on Friday and TBD is set to go on Saturday and Sunday.  Game times (all Central Daylight Time) are 7:10 PM on Friday and Saturday and 1:10 PM on Sunday.

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A SPLIT THAT HURTS

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas -  The Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers split a four game series to start the post-All-Star game portion of the schedule.  The Rangers won the first two games to raise hopes that they could win the series, but Houston came back to win the final two for the split.

It’s not likely that the Rangers will catch Houston for the division title, but to do so, they need to do well in the head-to-head games.  The split thus kept the status quo with Houston in the division race.  The Rangers are still nine games out of first place in the A. L. West.

However, Oakland swept a three game series with the White Sox this weekend to take over the second Wild Card position and push the Rangers farther out of the Wild Card race.  Texas has the fifth best record among the non-division leaders trailing number two Oakland by three games.  Tampa Bay rests in the first Wild Card slot, 1.5 games ahead of the Athletics.  Cleveland and Boston are ahead of Texas trailing Oakland by one-half game and two games respectively.

The Rangers took charge of Thursday’s series opening game early.  After Lance Lynn retired the Astros in the first inning, Texas hitters struck for four runs chasing Astros’ starting pitcher Framber Valdez after he retired just two batters.  A walk, single and ground out scored the first run.  A single and a double followed to push the second run across.  Rougned Odor doubled home the last two.

Lynn was brilliant.  He blanked the Astros for seven innings, striking out 11.  Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin finished the shutout by tossing scoreless eighth and ninth innings.  The Rangers added another run in the third inning to win 5-0.

It was Lynn’s 12th win, giving him the Major League lead.  Valdez took the loss to go to 3-5.

Surprisingly neither of these good offensive teams homered Thursday night, but they made up for it Friday.  They combined to hit nine!  Astro rookie Yordan Alvarez continued his ravaging of Major League pitching.  Hit hit two round trippers to bring his total to nine in just 21 Major League games.  He’s a keeper.

Texas trailed 8-4 going to their half of the seventh inning.  Tim Federowicz homered in the seventh inning, and Ronald Guzman homered in the eighth inning to send the game to the ninth tied at eight.

Amazingly after hitting nine round trippers, the game was decided by a good old fashioned rally.  Shawn Kelley blanked Houston in the top of the inning.  A one out Elvis Andrus single put the potential winning run on base.  Andrus stole second base, which precipitated a semi-intentional walk to Joey Gallo.  Odor struck out, but Danny Santana singled home the winning run, the first walk-off hit in his Major League career that made the final score 9-8.

Kelley went to 5-2 with the win, while Astro closer Rafael Osuna took the loss to fall to 3-2.

Saturday night, Mike Minor made his first start in 12 days, and the rust showed.  He had difficulty hitting his spots, and his velocity was down.  He lasted five innings, throwing 92 pitches and giving up four runs on seven hits.

Shin-Soo Choo and Santana homered leading off the Rangers’ half of the first inning.  A sacrifice fly and a throwing error plated two more Ranger runs in the third inning to give Texas a 4-3 lead.  It was short lived as Houston pushed across single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 5-4 lead.  Delino DeShields then tied the game in the seventh inning with his third home run.

The game stayed tied until the 11th inning, when Jose Altuve doubled home a run and later scored on Myles Straw’s single.  DeShields singled home a run for Texas in the bottom on the 11th, but that was all the Rangers could muster.  The final score was 7-6.

Josh James (4-0) was the winning pitcher.  Chris Martin (1-1) was the loser, and Roberto Osuna pitched the 11th to earn his 20th save.

Justin Verlander started the Sunday game for Houston.  No team has much of a chance to win when Verlander starts.  He completed six innings allowing two runs on four hits.  The Astros held a 5-2 lead when Verlander finished the sixth, but they broke it open with seven runs in seventh inning.  With a 12-2 lead, there was no need for Verlander to pitch any longer.  Four relievers finished off the Rangers.  Texas was only able to score twice more to make the final score 12-4.

Verlander is 11-4 withe the win, and Ariel Jurado is 5-5 after getting rocked for five runs in the first two innings.

Houston is off to Anaheim for a four game series against the Angels.  Texas has Monday off before hosting Arizona in their last home interleague series.  The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Lance Lynn (12-4) on Tuesday, and Jesse Chavez (3-4) on Wednesday.  Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 PM CDT.

NOTABLE:

* Hunter Pence is expected to be activated from the injured list Tuesday for the Arizona series.

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