THE BOOT TO HOUSTON

BY: Richard W, Humphrey

The Rangers outscored Houston 17-15 in the weekend series, but lost three of four games to the Astros, who claimed the Silver Boot trophy for the first time since 2006. The trophy is rotated annually to the winner of the season series each year. This year, Houston holds an 11-5 lead with the two teams facing each other in Arlington in the final week of the season. The Rangers blasted the Astros 13-6 on Friday night, but dropped the other three games by scores of 4-2, 2-0 and 3-2.

Friday’s rout was led by four rookies batting consecutively from seventh to first in the batting order – Tomas Telis, Rougned Odor, Michael Choice, and Daniel Robertson. They combined to go 8-18 with six runs scored and eight runs driven in. Included in the hits were Odor’s seventh home run and Choice’s ninth. Scott Baker was the starting and winning pitcher, evening his record at 3-3.

Robbie Ross turned in the most notable start in the series for the Rangers on Saturday. He had pitched for Round Rock on Thursday, but assured pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ron Washington that he could go. He completed five no-hit scoreless innings on 70 pitches, before they took him out. It was the third time this season in the Majors and the sixth time in Ranger history that a pitcher exited a game having thrown five or more hitless innings.

Ryan Rua made his Major League debut on Friday, becoming the 59th player to appear for the Rangers this season. He was in Friday’s starting lineup at first base and was 3-12 in the series. 59 players ties the Major League record for players used in a season. Derek Holland is scheduled to make his first appearance of the year as Tuesday’s starting pitcher in Kansas City to break the record. The September call-ups include three more players that have not appeared in a Ranger game this season, so the record of 59 players used in a season will not only be broken, but shattered.

The Rangers’ record fell to 53-83 as they are 30 games under .500 for the first time this season. They have been mathematically eliminated from winning the West Division. The series win went a long way toward Houston clinching fourth place in the division, as they hold a five game lead over Texas (four in the loss column), which has 26 games to play. Texas needs to win 10 of those 26 games to avoid a 100 loss season. The Rangers also held the distinction of having the worst record in baseball, as Colorado is one game better at 54-82.

The Astros have already won more games this year than they did in 2013. They appear to be a young team on the rise, but despite their success, General Manager Jeff Luhnow fired manager Bo Porter and bench coach Dave Trembley on Monday. Tom Lawless (manager) and Adam Everett (bench coach) will serve in those positions on an interim basis for the remainder of the season. The Astros made it clear that special assistant Nolan Ryan would be involved in the managerial search.

Certainly Ryan brings considerable credibility to the organization. After joining the Rangers, he was instrumental in the hiring of pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach Jackie Moore, and hitting coach Clint Hurdle; three key members of the on field management team that got the Rangers to the 2010 World Series. With Ryan’s credibility and with the improved team, the Astros will undoubtedly have better candidates for the position than they had two years ago when Porter was hired.

The Rangers’ Mike Maddux was linked to a number of managerial jobs after the 2011 season, but declined for family considerations. His daughters have now graduated from high school, so Maddux no longer has family considerations to constrain him, and he could be a candidate.

The Rangers lost in Kansas City Monday night 4-3, and play two more to complete the current 10 game road trip. Derek Holland is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game for his 2014 debut, and Nick Tepesch (4-8) is Wednesday’s announced starting pitcher.

ROSTER MOVES: First baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci was placed on the 7-day disabled list with a concussion. Nick Tepesch was optioned to Round Rock. Robbie Ross was recalled from Round Rock. Derek Holland was activated from the 60-day disabled list, and Mike Carp was designated for assignment. Ryan Rua was called up from Round Rock. On Monday when the roster expanded, Tepesch was recalled from Round Rock, along with pitcher Lisavlerto Bonilla and Luis Sardinas. Left-handed pitcher Michael Kirkman’s contract was also purchased from Round Rock. A corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster will be made Tuesday. The likelihood is that Tanner Scheppers or Sin-Shoo Choo will be transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Relief pitcher Spencer Patton, who was obtained from Kansas City in the Jason Frasor trade, will be called up on Thursday.

NOTABLE:

* Joey Gallo hit his 21st home run as a Rough Rider in the team’s final game of the season. He fell one short of the Texas league lead. The 21 that he hit at high-A Myrtle Beach ended up leading the Carolina league. His 42 for the season is a new Ranger minor league record.

* The Rangers were 10-18 in August, which was better than Chicago (9-19) and Toronto (9-17). Sadly that’s the Rangers’ third most wins in any month this season. April at 15-12, is the Rangers only winning month in 2014.

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RANGER ROUT WINS SERIES

BY: Richard W, Humphrey

Texas routed Seattle Wednesday afternoon to win a series for the first time in their last six series. Colby Lewis should be named offensive player of the year for Texas. When he takes the mound, the Rangers’ feeble offense scores runs, usually early and often. The Rangers have scored in double digits four times in Lewis’s starts and are averaging 5.1 runs per game when he is the starting pitcher.

Wednesday in Seattle, the Rangers scored 10 runs over the first four innings and cruised to a 12-4 win over the Mariners, with Lewis pitching a complete game. The two big blows came from rookie players who weren’t expected to see the light of day in the Major Leagues until 2016. Rougned Odor, the youngest player in the Majors hit a grand slam home run, while catcher Tomas Teles (pronounced Tay-Lees) stroked a three run double to account for seven of the runs. Leonys Martin, getting a chance at batting leadoff with Sin-Shoo Choo out for the season, also had three hits, including his sixth home run, and drove in three runs.

Lewis walked one and gave up seven hits over the nine innings. He struck out seven and moved his record to 9-11 as he bids to be part of the Rangers’ 2015 starting rotation. Two of the seven hits were solo home runs. There was considerable doubt as to whether Lewis would ever pitch again after the hip surgery he underwent last year. He has proved the doubters wrong, as he leads the Rangers with 24 starts and is second to Yu Darvish in innings pitched.

Seattle initially announced Felix Hernandez to start on Wednesday. They later moved him back to Friday to face the Washington Nationals in inter-league play and started Erasmo Ramirez instead. Ramirez was blasted for 10 runs on nine hits and a walk. He dropped to 1-6, and the Mariners in a tight race for a playoff spot lost a game they could ill afford to lose against the hapless Rangers.

The Rangers blanked Seattle in the series opener 2-0, their 16th shutout of the season. J. P. Arencibia singled home a run in the fourth inning, and Odor grounded out to drive home another in the seventh inning to account for the scoring. The story of the game though was the battery – pitcher Miles Mikolas and catcher Tomas Telis.

Mikolas turned in eight shutout innings, by far the best of his 10 starts with the Rangers. His performances this season have strangely been much better on the road than at home. He had sufficient rest to start last Sunday at home, but was pushed back a day to start on the road. Mikolas gave up three singles, walked one and struck out five to win his second game against five losses. That improved his road record 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six starts. In Arlington, he is 0-4 with a 13.73 ERA.

Telis made his Major League debut. Mikolas gave him a lot of credit for pitch calling. He told MLB.com’s T. R. Sullivan, “I think I only shook him off a handful of times. We were definitely on the same page most of the game.” Telis was 1-4 at the plate, with a bunt single in the seventh inning that contributed to the second Ranger run.

Neftali Feliz gave up a single in the ninth, but retired the other three batters he faced to nail down his seventh save. Roenis Elias (9-11) was the hard luck losing pitcher for Seattle, as he gave up a run on three hits over five innings.

Seattle rookie Jim Paxton returned the shutout favor on Tuesday as he tossed 6-2/3rds scoreless innings scattering four Ranger hits, all singles. He improved to 4-1 on the season with a sparkling 1.83 ERA in seven starts. Danny Farquhar retired all eight batters he faced in relief of Paxton to complete the game, as once again, the Rangers’ offense was feeble. It was the eighth time the Rangers have been shutout this year.

Nick Martinez started and took the loss. He gave up a home run to Robinson Cano in the first inning and another run in the second when the Rangers could not turn a double play on a bases loaded ground ball with one out. Seattle knocked him around for three more runs in the fourth inning. He walked the leadoff batter, then gave up a single and a double to score two more Seattle runs. Former Ranger Endy Chavez hit the double, but was out trying to stretch the hit to a triple. However, the M’s added another run on a two out triple followed by a single.

5-0 was the final score. Martinez fell to 3-10 with the loss.

The two Ranger wins against Seattle brings their win total to 52 for the year. They need to win 11 of the final 30 games to avoid a 100 loss season. Their record is still the worst in baseball behind Colorado. All but seven of the final 30 games, all against the Astros, are against teams with winning records and in contention for a playoff berth.

The road trip continues with four games in Houston this weekend. The announced starting pitchers are Nick Tepesch (4-8) on Thursday night, TBA on Friday, Miles Mikolas (2-5) on Saturday and Nick Martinez (3-10) on Sunday afternoon.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Sin-Shoo Choo underwent season ending surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. Michael Choice was called up from Round Rock to take his place on the roster. Alex Rios came out of Tuesday’s game with a swollen thumb and did not play Wednesday. Derek Holland’s final minor league rehab start is scheduled Thursday night for Round Rock.

NOTABLE:

* When Tomas Telis played Monday night, he was the Rangers’ 58th player and 19th rookie to perform for the team this year. 58 players used in one season is a new team record, while 19 rookies ties the team record set in 2008. The Major League record for players used in a season is 59.

* Neftali Feliz has been astounding in his career against the Mariners. With Monday’s save, he has faced the Mariners 18 times encompassing 17 innings. Austin Jackson singled in the ninth on Monday night, and that is the only hit he has allowed in the 18 appearances. He is 2-0 with 10 saves. The M’s are batting .019 (1-52) against him. Only five other Mariners have reached base against him – four walks and a hit batsman. He has 21 strikeouts.

* 16 Ranger shutouts this year rank third in the Majors behind St. Louis with 18 and Tampa Bay with 17.

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ROLLING ROYALS TAKE TWO

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas beat the hot Kansas City Royals Sunday 3-1 to avoid a sweep of the series. The Royals are on a serious roll, having won 24 of their last 31 games to take over first place in the Central Division, two full games over Detroit. Sunday’s win was the 50th win of the season for Texas, which has the worst record in baseball, two games behind Colorado.

In Friday’s series opener, the Rangers scored first on a single, double, ground out in the first inning. The lead didn’t last long though. Colby Lewis had breezed through a 1-2-3 first inning, but he wasn’t fooling anybody in the second. Billy Butler tied the game with a lead-off home run. After a ground out, Lewis hit the next batter and surrendered singles to the next three. That pushed across two more runs to give the Royals a 3-1 lead.

Lewis pitched well after the second. He completed six innings allowing one more run on a Josh Willingham home run leading off the fourth inning. He struck out just two, but walked no one. He took the loss to drop to 8-11 for the year.

Royals fireballer Yordano Ventura started and earned the win for K. C. He also completed six innings, but he allowed just the first inning run. He got the win, his 10th against nine losses.

Kansas City scored a run off Phil Klein in the seventh and another unearned run off Jon Edwards in the ninth inning. Texas came back to score two seventh inning runs off Royals’ reliever Francisley Bueno, but that was as close as they got. 6-3 was the final score. Greg Holland racked up his 40th save of the year with a perfect ninth inning.

On Saturday night, the game began 20 minutes late for the induction ceremony of Tom Schieffer, former club President, into the Rangers Hall of Fame. Schieffer was instrumental in the construction of the ballpark, and has gone on to be the U. S. Ambassador to Australia and Japan since leaving the Rangers.

Both teams got a solo home run in the first inning. Alex Gordon hit his 15th for Kansas City and Sin-Shoo Choo hit number 13 for Texas. The game stayed tied at one until the fifth inning, when three Nick Tepesch walks led to three Kansas City runs. The Royals added two more in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning. Leonys Martin singled home a pair of ninth inning runs to make the final score 6-3.

Tepesch took the loss to fall to 4-8. Royals’ starter Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight innings of five hit ball for the win to improve to 10-10.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rangers had a multitude of scoring opportunities early, but cashed in for just three runs, one in each of the first three innings. That however proved to be enough. Scott Baker came out of the bullpen to make his fifth start of the season. He gave up a solo home run to Billy Butler over five innings. Shawn Tolleson, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz finished the final four innings allowing one hit and retiring the other 12 batters they faced to take the series finale 3-1. Baker won for the second time against two losses, but it was his first win as a starting pitcher. Feliz earned save number six.

Saturday’s loss plunged the Rangers 30 games under .500, which was not only a season high, but the first time they were 30 games under since the end of the 1985 season, when they finished 37 games under .500. Texas is 11-23 since the All-Star break with Sunday’s win, which was the Rangers’ seventh in August, one more than in July.

This week, the Rangers return to the road and return to division play. In fact, the only six remaining games that are not against divisional opponents are a three game series in Kansas City to start September, and a three game inter-league series against the Braves over the weekend of September 12, 13 and 14. They open up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle, followed by four games in Houston next weekend. The announced starting pitchers for the Seattle series are Miles Mikolas (1-5) Monday night, Nick Martinez (3-9) on Tuesday night, and Colby Lewis (8-11) in Wednesday’s matinee.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Derek Holland was scheduled to make his final minor league rehab start Sunday pitching for Round Rock in Las Vegas, but was scratched due to back spasms and re-scheduled for Thursday. He is expected to be activated from the disabled list on September 1. Yu Darvish is on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. He is eligible to be activated on Monday, but likely will not be. He actually may not pitch again this season. Geovany Soto was traded to Oakland during Sunday’s game for cash considerations. Tomas Telis will be called up from Round Rock on Monday to take Soto’s roster spot. Sin-Soo Choo was not in Sunday’s lineup as he was reportedly “under the weather”.

NOTABLE:

* Friday Night’s game was played on the 25th anniversary of the night that Nolan Ryan struck out his 5,000th batter (Ricky Henderson). Ryan is still the only pitcher in baseball history to strike out 5,000 batters. The Rangers gave away Nolan Ryan replica jerseys to fans Friday night.

* Jim Adduci hit his first Major League home run on August 9 against Houston, but did not get another one until a single on Saturday, going 0-26 in between.

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A SPLIT LOOKS GOOD

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers split a pair in Miami this week, taking Wednesday afternoon’s finale 5-4 after losing Tuesday’s series opening game 4-3 in 10 innings. It was their first split of a road series and brings their record to 2-4-1 over the past seven series. Wednesday’s win brought the Rangers’ road winning percentage to .400, the lowest in the American League, but actually higher than their home winning percentage.

Wednesday afternoon, the Rangers jumped on Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi for five runs in the first two innings, and Nick Martinez and three relievers made the early lead stand up for a 5-4 win. The Rangers pushed across three first inning runs with four consecutive two out hits, and Alex Rios doubled home two more in the second.

Martinez gave up two runs over six innings on six hits. Jon Edwards and Roman Mendez shut down the Fish in the seventh and eighth innings with one hit. Neftali Feliz came on to close the game in the ninth and ran into immediate trouble. He gave up a lead-off home run to Marcell Ozuna. One out later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia cut the lead to 5-4 with another solo home run. Feliz settled down to strike out Jeff Baker, but put the tying run on base with a walk to Christian Yelich.

At that point, Feliz had to talk manager Ron Washington out of making a pitching change. He convinced Washington to let him stay, and he paid off his manager’s confidence by striking out Donovan Solano to end the game.

Martinez (3-9) was the winning pitcher. Eovaldi (6-8) took the loss. Feliz earned his fifth save.

The opening game of the series was tightly played. Both teams pushed across a run in the fourth inning, with the Marlins’ coming on Marcell Ozuna’s 17th home run. The Marlins took the lead in the sixth inning with a pair of runs that scored on a single and sacrifice fly. Texas came right back to tie in the seventh. Rougned Odor opened the inning with a double, and aggressively scored on the play as Giancarlo Stanton fumbled the ball in right field. The Rangers’ third run scored on a bases loaded walk.

The game was still tied after nine innings, but Stanton made up for his misplay with a two out RBI single in the 10th for the Marlins’ 11th walk-off win of the year.

Miles Mikolas was the Rangers’ starter giving up three runs on eight hits over five plus innings. Neal Cotts (2-7) took the loss, though Feliz actually gave up the game winning hit to Stanton. Miami’s Sam Dyson (2-0) was the winning pitcher.

The Rangers finished 2-2 against Miami this year, splitting two game series in Arlington and Miami. All time, the Rangers lead the Marlins 10-9. The games this week were the first for Texas in the Marlins new stadium. These two games completed the Rangers’ inter-league road schedule for the year. The only remaining inter-league games are three against the Braves over the weekend of September 12, 13 and 14.

The Rangers still hold the dubious honor of worst record in baseball as Colorado is one game better. Houston is 4.5 games ahead of Texas for fourth place in the division.

Texas is back in Arlington this weekend for three games with Kansas City. This is “Alumni Legacy Weekend” with former team official Tom Schieffer getting inducted into the Rangers’ Hall of Fame. The announced starting pitchers are Colby Lewis (8-10) on Friday night, Nick Tepesch (4-7) on Saturday, and Scott Baker on Sunday. This will be the first meeting of the year with Kansas City, which is the hottest team in baseball having won 22 of their last 28 games. The Royals have over taken the Tigers to lead the Central Division.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Derek Holland pitched more than five innings for Round Rock on Tuesday night, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out seven and threw 87 pitches. He thinks he’s ready, but the Rangers apparently don’t. He’ll make at least one more start in the minors and likely will not be activated until rosters expand in September.

NOTABLE:

* The Rangers have now used 57 players and 36 pitchers this season, both team records. They have also used 18 rookies, which leads the American League.

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ANGELS TAKE FIRST

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Los Angeles Angels took two of three from Texas this weekend to move past Oakland into first place in the American League West. Oakland has held first place alone since April, but L. A. moved percentage points ahead with a win on Saturday, and both teams lost on Sunday. The two teams will play each other 10 more times this year.

Sunday afternoon the Angels took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning, but closer Huston Street, pitching on the third consecutive day, was unable to retire a batter as he gave up two runs and was charged with a blown save and the loss. Street is now 1-1 on the year. The blown save was his first as an Angel and just his second this year.

Texas avoided the sweep on a fine pitching effort from starter Nick Tepesch. He gave up the two Angel runs on six hits over six innings. The two runs scored in the second inning, when the Angels pieced together four hits to push across the only runs they would score on the day. Shawn Tolleson, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz finished the game with Feliz (1-1) earning the win. Tolleson and Cotts combined to strike out the side in a dramatic eighth inning after L. A. loaded the bases with no outs.

Adam Rosales had the walk-off hit in the ninth inning to drive in the winning run. Texas was 2-5 this week on the current home stand, and Rosales drove in the winning run with a bases loaded walk in the 14th inning of the other Ranger win.

The Angels were in position to sweep Sunday after winning the first two games each by the score of 5-4. In Friday’s series opener, Nick Martinez turned in six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. The big blow for the Angels was a three run home run off the bat of Cole Calhoun in the sixth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Tolleson gave up what proved to be the deciding run in the seventh inning that extended the Angels lead to 5-1. Texas rallied for three runs in the eighth to pull within one, but Street needed 15 pitches to put out the fire with a perfect ninth inning.

Garrett Richards (13-4), the Angels emerging ace, pitched into the eighth inning allowing two runs on seven hits for the win. Martinez’s record fell to 2-9 with the loss.

On Saturday, Colby Lewis turned in a strange pitching line. Five of the first 10 batters he faced got base hits, three of which were for extra bases and drove in runs. He gave up two more runs in the fourth inning for a total of five allowed, all earned, over six innings. The Angels tagged him for 10 hits; but on the other hand, he struck out a season high 10 batters and didn’t walk a batter. It was the 11th time in his career to reach a double digit strikeout total.

After getting down 5-0, Texas came back with a pair of fourth inning runs on a lead-off home run from Sin-Shoo Choo, his 13th, and a run scoring single from J. P. Arencibia. Relievers Phil Klein, Neal Cotts and Roman Mendez retired all three batters each faced over the final three innings to hold the Angels to five on the night. Alex Rios singled home two more runs for Texas in the seventh to draw within one. That was it for scoring as Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth and Street pitched a perfect ninth to complete the 5-4 Angels win that moved them past Oakland into first place.

Lewis fell to 8-10 with the loss. Matt Shoemaker (11-4) was the winning pitcher, and Street earned his 33rd save.

Texas fell to 48-76 with the series loss. They are slightly ahead of Colorado (48-75) for the dubious honor of worst record in baseball. The dream of catching Houston for fourth place in the division continues to fade as the Astros are now 3.5 games ahead, three in the loss column. Texas has 38 games remaining in the season.

The Rangers intend to go with four starting pitchers over the next week as there are two off days. Texas is off on Monday, then travels to Miami for two with the Marlins. The Rangers and Marlins split two games in Arlington earlier this year. The announced pitchers for the games are Miles Mikolas (1-5) on Tuesday night and Nick Martinez (2-9) on Wednesday afternoon. Both games will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Texas is off again on Thursday before opening a brief three game home stand next weekend.

ROSTER MOVES: Robbie Ross was optioned to Round Rock a day after taking Yu Darvish’s start on Thursday, and reliever Jon Edwards had his contract purchased from the same club.

NOTABLE:

* The Angels have won the season series with Texas as they lead 10-3 with six games remaining. Sunday’s win ended an Angels’ winning streak of nine straight games against Texas and ended a four game losing streak since beating Tampa Bay last Tuesday. The Rangers are now 12-25-3 in series this year and are 10-19 since the All-Star break.

* Colby Lewis’s game on Saturday was the 18th time in Rangers’ history that a pitcher had a double digit strikeout total without walking a batter. However, it was the first game of the 18 that the Rangers lost.

* Joey Gallo hit his 19th home run for Frisco Sunday, which was his 40th of the season to pull within one of the Ranger minor league record.

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RAYS X RANGERS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

ARLINGTON, Texas – Tampa Bay completed a series win three games to one with a 6-3 victory over the Rangers Thursday night. The Rangers lone win came in the longest home game of the season – a 14 inning affair on Tuesday night, while the Rays handily won the other three games.

The Rays opened the series with a 7-0 whitewashing of the Rangers. Drew Smyly, the former Arkansas Razorback making his second start for Tampa since being acquired from the Tigers, was the starting and winning pitcher. He limited the Rangers to three hits over 7-2/3rds innings for the win, his first for Tampa and his seventh against 10 losses for the season.

The Rangers had some chances, but went 0-5 with men in scoring position. Colby Lewis (8-9) was the Rangers’ starting and losing pitcher. He had command issues and needed 101 pitches to struggle through five innings. He walked four and gave up five hits as nine of the 25 batters he faced reached base (.360 on base percentage) and five of them scored, though a Ranger error made three of those runs unearned.

On Tuesday night, Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson continued the Rangers’ scoreless streak for six more innings. In the top of the sixth, the Rays hit a pair of triples, and both scored. Desmond Jennings hit the first one and scored on a sacrifice fly. Matt Joyce hit the second one and scored on the play as the relay throw to third base went into the stands.

Hellickson’s chance for a win went out the door immediately in the seventh inning. Leonys Martin singled and Geovany Soto doubled to lead off the inning. They both scored on Rougned Odor’s sacrifice fly and Sin-Shoo Choo’s double.

The game stayed tied at two until the 14th inning. Both teams had opportunities, but the Rangers finally cashed in when Adam Rosales walked with two outs and the bases loaded for the 3-2 win. It was the fifth walk-off win for Texas this year.

Scott Baker (1-3) was the winning pitcher with two solid innings of relief. He became the 18th Ranger pitcher to record a win this season, the third most in baseball, but still four away from the Ranger record of 22. Cesar Ramos (2-5) was the loser for Tampa. The pitching story for Texas though was Nick Tepesch, who continues to make the most of his tryout for the 2015 Ranger starting rotation. He completed seven innings, allowing the two runs on four hits. He walked no one, as did the Ranger relievers that pitched the final seven innings of the game.

Neither team hit a home run in the first two games of the series the 16th and 17th homerless games this year at the ballpark now known as Globe Life Ballpark. That re-set the old record of 13 set just last season. The homerless streak ended early on Wednesday in game three, as the Rays’ Sean Rodriguez, Matt Joyce and Brandon Guyer all homered in the first two innings. That gave the Rays an early 5-0 lead and they coasted to a 10-1 victory.

Miles Mikolas was the Rangers’ starting pitcher and victim of the Rays’ offensive largesse. He gave up all 10 runs over six innings on nine hits and two walks. The performance zoomed his ERA up to 7.71, and the loss dropped his record to 1-5.

Alex Claudio, summoned Wednesday after the 14 inning game, made his Major League debut by pitching a perfect eighth inning with one strikeout. J. P. Arencibia made his Major League pitching debut in the ninth inning, becoming the third position player to pitch for the Rangers this year.

Yu Darvish being placed on the disabled list opened the door for Robbie Ross’s return. Ross started Wednesday night, breaking a string of 38 consecutive Rangers games started by right handed pitchers. Ross looked to have gotten turned around at Round Rock as he had a 2.91 ERA over his last five AAA starts. He got off to a good start by striking out the side in the first inning, but his outing was down hill from there. A two out home run put two runs on the board for the Rays in the second inning. Ross gave up two more runs in the third and fifth innings. He retired just one batter in the fifth.

Geovany Soto tagged Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi for a two run home run in the fourth inning to cut the Rays lead to 4-2 at the time. Rougned Odor hit his fifth home run of the year in the eighth inning for the Rangers’ other tally. 6-3 was the final score. Odorizzi (9-9) was the winning pitcher, while Ross (2-8) took the loss.

Part of this series can be explained by motivation. The Rays had the worst record in baseball in early June, 18 games under .500. With the series win in Arlington this week, they have pulled within one game of being even .500. They are still 10 games out of first place in the East where Baltimore has taken charge of the division, but the Rays have crept within six games of the second Wild Card slot. With 41 games remaining and with a bunch of momentum, the Rays have a legitimate chance to slip into the playoffs.

The Rangers on the other hand look like a team motivated to get the season over with. They committed five errors in the four games and had the usual assortment of base running blunders and bonehead plays that weren’t scored errors. The three losses dropped their record to 9-17 since the All-Star break, and they are 26 games out of first place. Their 47-74 record is the worst in the American League and is tied with Colorado for the worst in baseball. Texas could still climb out of the cellar as they are 2.5 games behind Houston for fourth place in the division.

The home stand continues this weekend with three games against the Angels, another team that is highly motivated. Los Angeles arrives in second place in the division, but with the second best record in baseball. They are virtually assured a playoff spot. They have a great chance to overtake the Athletics for first place and have a comfortable 5.5 game lead over the team in third place in the Wild Card standings. The announced starting pitchers for Texas are Nick Martinez (2-8) on Friday night, Colby Lewis (8-9) on Saturday night, and Nick Tepesch (4-7) on Sunday. Former Ranger C. J. Wilson is not scheduled to pitch in the series for L. A.

ROSTER MOVES AND INJURIES: Chris Gimenez, who had earlier cleared waivers after being designated for assignment, accepted the outright assignment to AAA Round Rock. Yu Darvish was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season with elbow soreness. He is expected to miss two starts. Alex Claudio was called up from Round Rock to replace him. Robbie Ross rejoined the team to start Thursday’s game. Nate Adcock was optioned to Round Rock to make room for Ross. Derek Holland started and pitched for Round Rock Thursday night, allowing three runs (one earned) in 3-2/3rds innings. He allowed three hits, walked two, struck out four and was charged with the loss, as the Reno Aces won the game 6-1.

NOTABLE:

* Texas has now used 56 players this season, a total that leads the Major Leagues and is a new team record. Alex Claudio was the 17th rookie to appear for Texas, which is tied with Arizona for the most this season. With Claudio and J. P. Arencibia pitching in the series, the Rangers have now used 35 pitchers this season, a team record.

* Leonys Martin had four hits in Tuesday’s 14 inning game, his first career four hit game.

* The Rangers 14 innings played on Tuesday matched their longest game of the year by innings. They earlier played 14 against the Yankees in New York. The game time of 4:49 was five minutes less than the other 14 inning game. There were six errors in the game, three by each team to match the most errors committed in any Major League game this season. It was also the longest game in ballpark history without a home run.

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SPACEMEN TAKE TWO

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers avoided a sweep at the hands of the Astros Sunday afternoon, as Nick Martinez won his second game in 15 starts, his first win since May. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel was unhittable for three innings as the Astros took a 2-0 lead, but Texas came back to tie with two in the fourth and took the lead for good with two more in the fifth inning. Adrian Beltre and Sin-Shoo Choo led off the sixth and seventh innings with home runs to complete the Rangers’ scoring. 6-2 was the final.

Martinez improved to 2-8, as he allowed five hits over five innings on 102 pitches. He struck out six and walked two. Three relievers finished the game allowing one hit and one walk over the final four innings. Shawn Tolleson completed two innings, a rarity for Ranger relievers, though he needed just 24 pitches to record the six outs. Neftali Feliz was perfect in the ninth inning in a non-save situation. Keuchel, Houston’s ace, took the loss to fall to 10-8.

On Friday night, the Rangers staked Miles Mikolas to a 2-0 with a first inning two run shot from J. P. Arencibia. Mikolas qualified for a win with five innings of one-run ball on four Astros’ hits. The Rangers took that 2-1 lead into the eighth inning, but Neal Cotts couldn’t hold it. He gave up three runs on four hits, the big blow being a Chris Carter two-run home run that gave the Astros the lead at 3-2.

The insurance run the Spacemen tacked on later proved to be the game winner as the Rangers scored one in the ninth inning, before Chad Qualls recorded the third out. 4-3 was the final score. Jose Veras (2-1) was the winning Astros’ pitcher in relief. Qualls earned his 13th save. It was Cotts’ sixth blown save, and the loss moved his record to 2-6.

Saturday’s game was the matchup that looked most favorable for a Rangers’ win. Yu Darvish has dominated Houston in the past, but it didn’t happen that way Saturday. He was knocked out when he failed to retire a batter and allowed four fifth inning runs. Houston got 13 base runners (nine hits and four walks) from the 24 batters that faced him in four plus innings. His record fell to 10-7 with the loss.

After falling behind 6-0, the Rangers rallied for three runs in the sixth and seventh innings, including a solo home run from Jim Adduci, his first in the Major Leagues. Houston answered with sixth and eighth inning runs off Ranger relievers for the 8-3 final score. Former Ranger Scott Feldman pitched into the seventh inning for the win, his sixth against eight losses.

Texas is now 26 games out of first place and 25 games under .500 at 46-71. The Texas win ended a seven game Astros’ winning streak in the series, but the two wins for Houston improved their lead over the Rangers for fourth place in the division to 2.5 games, two in the loss column. Houston now leads the season series 8-4 and needs just two wins in the final seven meetings to re-claim the Silver Boot trophy awarded to the winner of the season series between the two Texas Major League teams. Texas has won the Silver Boot the last seven years.

The Rangers return home for a seven game home stand starting with four games against Tampa Bay. The announced starting pitchers for the series are Colby Lewis (8-8) on Monday, Nick Tepesch (4-7) on Tuesday, Miles Mikolas (1-4) on Wednesday and Yu Darvish (10-7) in Thursday’s finale. All four games are scheduled to begin at 7:05. Texas lost two of three games to the Rays in April in the only other action this season between the two teams. The home stand concludes next weekend with three games against the Angels.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: The Rangers designated Chris Gimenez and Jerome Williams for assignment and activated Geovany Soto from the disabled list prior to the start of the series. Williams was claimed on waivers by Philadelphia. Gimenez cleared waivers, but has not decided whether he will accept the Rangers’ offer to join AAA Round Rock. Derek Holland’s third minor league rehab start went well. He threw three scoreless innings for Frisco Saturday night. He gave up three hits, struck out four, and threw 49 pitches (30 strikes). Alex Rios was out of the lineup in the first two games of the series with an ankle sprain, but returned Sunday. However, he reinjured the ankle sliding into home and was forced to leave the game.

NOTABLE:

* Scott Feldman, the winning pitcher in game two of the series, is one of two pitchers to make opening day starts for both Texas teams. The other of course is Nolan Ryan.

* Sin-Shoo Choo recorded his 1,000th Major League hit in Saturday’s game. That hit was his 100th of this season.

* Elvis Andrus’ 13 game hitting streak came to an end Friday night with an 0-3 performance.

* BAD NEWS: Texas is 18-28 against American League West foes. MORE BAD NEWS: 30 of the Rangers final 45 games are against A. L. West teams.

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ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The Rangers came back from a series opening loss to the White Sox to win the final two games and win their second series out of the last three. In the process, they won consecutive games for the first time since June. The Rangers hit seven home runs and got fine pitching performances to take the final two games of the series. In the process, they no longer have the worst record in baseball. That dubious honor has been ceded to Colorado.

In Monday’s series opener, the Rangers scored a run in the first and two more in the second, and never scored again. The two in the second scored on Rougned Odor’s fourth home run of the year, a total that ties him with Alex Rios. The White Sox came back with two in the third inning and tied the game in the fifth with Tyler Flowers’ solo home run. Flowers then drove in two more with a single in the sixth to give Chicago the lead.

The game was called because of rain in the seventh inning. 5-3 was the final score. Hector Noesi (6-8), who was with the Rangers earlier this year, was the winning pitcher with the seven inning complete game. Nick Martinez (1-8) took the loss.

The highlight of the series was Tuesday’s Ranger slugfest. They hit a season high five home runs and scored a season high 16 runs. Robinson Chirinos hit two of the round trippers. Sin-Shoo Choo, J. P. Arencibia, and Adrian Beltre hit the other three. Arencibia drove in four runs, which ran his RBI total to 20 since the All-Star break, which is the most by any player in the second half. Things were so bad for Chicago that designated hitter Adam Dunn pitched the ninth inning.

Colby Lewis (8-8) pitched the complete game shutout, the second of his big league career. 16-0 was the final score.

Texas played a very fine game in Wednesday afternoon’s finale. Reserve infielder Adam Rosales provided the offense with a pair of home runs to account for all three Ranger runs on the day. Nick Tepesch lasted 5-2/3rds innings to win, his fourth against seven losses. He allowed six hits in shutting out the Sox. Ramon Mendez was touched for the lone White Sox run in the seventh inning, but Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz finished the game without further scoreboard damage.

Feliz especially was impressive, as his fastball touched 96, the best velocity he has shown since before his Tommy John surgery. He was credited with his fourth save in five tries.

The win was also impressive for the Rangers as they beat Chicago’s All-Star starting pitcher, Chris Sale. Sale went six innings, giving up the two run home run to Rosales among the three hits he allowed. He was tagged with just his second loss of the season to go along with 10 wins. Daniel Webb, one of the three Sox relievers that finished the game, surrendered the other Rosales home run.

The Rangers are off Thursday, and then head south to Houston for three games this weekend. They trail the Astros by two games, so could overtake them in the division with a sweep. The announced starting pitchers are Miles Mikolas (1-4) on Friday, Yu Darvish (10-6) on Saturday, and Mick Martinez (1-8) on Sunday.

ROSTER MOVES: The Rangers are planning to activate Geovany Soto from the disabled list on Friday.

NOTABLE:

* Assistant General Manager A. J. Preller accepted an offer from the San Diego Padres to become their new general manager. Preller is one of GM Jon Daniels long time friends and has been instrumental in scouting Latin American players.

* Derek Holland was roughed up in his second minor league rehab appearance, throwing just one inning and giving up four earned runs for Round Rock. Local Ranger fans can see him in person as his next scheduled game is this Saturday for Frisco at home against Tulsa.

* Mike Carp was claimed on waivers last weekend and played in the series to become the 55th player to appear for the Rangers this season, which ties the Ranger season high.

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CLEVELAND SWEEPS

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Sunday afternoon, Yu Darvish pitched his fifth straight masterful game trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of Cleveland. He gave up a run scoring double to his former teammate David Murphy among the four hits he allowed over seven innings. He struck out eight batters and looked good for the win going to the bottom of the ninth as Texas maintained a 3-1 lead. It was not to be for Darvish or the Rangers. New closer Neftali Feliz blew the save in the ninth inning when he gave up a game tying two-run home run to Murphy, and Phil Klein (0-1), the sixth Ranger pitcher of the game, took the loss when the first batter he faced in the 12th inning, Michael Brantley, homered for the 4-3 Cleveland win. Scott Atchison (5-0), a former TCU Horned Frog and Cleveland’s seventh pitcher on the day, was credited with the win.

The Rangers scored in the first with Alex Rios driving in the run. They added two more in the second on a pair of sacrifice flies from Rougned Odor and Sin-Shoo Choo. That was it for the Rangers’ offense on the day, as they mustered just one extra base hit among the seven they got in the game and failed to score in their final 10 at bats.

The series opened with the Indians putting a 12-2 whipping on the Rangers. Jerome Williams, who had pitched extremely well in his first start, wasn’t fooling anybody. He gave up 10 runs on 13 hits in four innings. He faced 26 batters, and 16 of them reached base with a hit or walk. That’s a .615 on base percentage. It was the ninth time in Ranger history that a pitcher has allowed a double digit run total.

Williams can look marvelous at times, as he did last weekend when he beat the Athletics in his first start, but his problem is consistency. With Nick Tepesch recovering from a sore left knee, Williams may have made his last start for Texas. Tepesch is likely to be the starting pitcher next Wednesday when the rotation slot comes up again.

Former Ranger David Murphy had a big night for the Tribe. He was 4-4 with a double, two runs scored and two runs driven in. Cleveland scored in five of the first six innings and essentially put the game away in the fifth when they scored six runs to run their lead to 11-1. Williams (2-5 overall and 1-1 with Texas) took the loss, while Danny Salazar (4-4) was Cleveland’s starting and winning pitcher.

On Saturday, Miles Mikolas continued his tryout for the 2015 starting rotation and turned in his best outing to date. He blanked the Tribe over the first six innings, and then gave up a pair of runs in the seventh on a bloop single and a poorly executed pitch. Mikolas (1-4) took the loss though, as the pathetic Ranger offense was shut out for the sixth time this season. Both teams garnered five hits in the game, and all 10 hits were singles. Texas however, failed to score as they were 0-9 with runners in scoring position.

The three losses dropped Texas 24.5 games out of first place and 3.5 games behind Houston for fourth place in the division. They are 25 games under .500 at 43-68, which is still the worst record in baseball, one game worse than Colorado. Offensively, they scored just five runs in the series, and two outstanding starting pitching performances resulted in losses as this team simply can not score runs.

The Rangers flew to Chicago after Sunday’s game to play a three game series with the White Sox beginning Monday. The announced pitchers for the series are Nick Martinez (1-7) on Monday, Colby Lewis (7-8) on Tuesday and TBA in Wednesday afternoon’s finale, though Nick Tepesch is the likely starter.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Reliever Phil Klein joined the team Friday and Ryan Feierabend was designated for assignment. Klein had an amazing skein of 32 consecutive appearances in which he did not give up a run. In fact, he had not allowed an extra base hit all year. That changed quickly when he entered Friday’s game, as he gave up a home run to Lonnie Chisenhall in his one inning debut. Derek Holland is scheduled to make his second minor league rehab start Monday night for Round Rock. The Rangers were awarded outfielder Mike Carp on a waiver claim Sunday. Alexi Ogando was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Carp on the 40-man roster.

NOTABLE:

* Phil Klein became the 33rd player to pitch for Texas this season, re-setting the team record for pitchers used in a season. He was also the 54th player to appear in a Ranger game this year, one short of the Ranger record.

* Adrian Beltre was selected as the Rangers’ Player of the Month for July. He hit .301 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He has now won the award eight times, including seven of the last 12, which is the most times any Ranger has won the award since it began in 1998.

* Sunday’s game was the final game between Texas and Cleveland this season. The Tribe won the season series six games to one.

* Elvis Andrus has at least one hit in all 25 career games he has played at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, and has hit safely in all but one of the 44 career games he has played against Cleveland.

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GOOD BYE DEREK

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Derek Jeter’s swan song tour ended the Arlington portion with three games this week. He went five for 13 in the series (.385), but New York lost two of three as Texas ended a series losing streak at seven. Jeter received a standing ovation from the Texas crowd as he came to bat in Monday’s opening game, and another ovation shortly thereafter, when he grounded a single into left field. He finished Monday night with three hits that moved him past Carl Yaztrzemski for seventh place on the all time hit list. He left Arlington with 3,422 career hits, eight behind the next player on the list – Honus Wagner. His hit total is also fourth all time for a player with one team, trailing Ty Cobb (3,902 with Detroit), Stan Musial (3,630 with St. Louis), and Hank Aaron (3,600 for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves).

Area fans showed up in droves to say good bye to Jeter. The total attendance for the series was 132,941 as each game exceeded 40,000, the first crowds to exceed 40,000 in Arlington since late May. They are likely the last crowds to exceed 40,000 this season too. Wednesday’s series finale was just the third sellout of the year, the attraction being a pre-game ceremony to honor Jeter. Former Rangers that had battled Jeter many times – Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young – were part of the presentation, in which he received a $10,000 donation for his Turn 2 Foundation and a pair of Lucchese Italian goat leather boots with his name, number and Yankees’ logo. Former President George W. Bush was the surprise guest. He brought of framed photograph of himself with Jeter before a 2001 World Series game.

The Rangers still trail Oakland in the West by 23.5 games with a 43-65 record, still the worst in baseball. They remain one game behind the Astros for fourth place in the division.

The Rangers won the first and third games of the series, both well played, well pitched, and delightful games to watch. In Monday’s series opener, Yu Darvish started for Texas. He wasn’t vintage Yu, but he was very good, allowing nine hits over seven innings. Two of those hits were solo home runs to Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner, which were the only two Yankee runs of the game. Texas put together a four run rally in the fifth inning to take the lead. Neal Cotts shut down the Yankees in the eighth inning and Neftali Feliz did the same in the ninth to earn the save. 4-2 was the final score. Darvish (10-6) earned the win, and now has a double digit win total in all three of his Major League seasons.

Wednesday’s finale began with a sloppy first inning that took more than 30 minutes to play, and saw 15 batters come to the plate. Ranger starter Colby Lewis allowed two hits and walked two among the seven batters he faced, but amazingly a Brett Gardner leadoff home run was the only run that scored as the Yankees left the bases loaded. Two batters into the bottom of the first the Rangers tied the game as Sin-Shoo Choo singled and scored on Elvis Andrus’s double. Adrian Beltre singled in Andrus to give Texas the lead they never relinquished. Beltre later scored on Luis Martin’s single. When the smoke had cleared, Texas led 3-1 in what promised to be a rock-em sock-em game.

Amazingly, both starting pitchers righted the ship from there. Both completed seven innings. Yankee starter Hidecki Kuroda and reliever David Huff shut out the Rangers the rest of the way. Lewis allowed another solo home run to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning, but that completed the scoring in the game. Lewis and two relievers retired the final 19 Yankees that came to the plate. Lewis got the win to improve to 7-8 in his best pitched game of the year. Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth inning to earn his third save in as many tries since the trade of closer Joakim Soria. Kuroda (7-7) took the loss in a series the Yankees could ill afford to lose in the midst of chasing Baltimore in the East and Seattle for a Wild Card playoff berth.

The Yankee win came in game two. It was a topsy-turvy affair that lasted almost four hours. Ranger starter Nick Martinez gave up a lead-off home run to Brett Gardner, but shut out New York over the next four innings. Meanwhile, the Rangers took the lead with three runs in the third as Jim Adduci singled home one run and J. P. Arencibia doubled home two more in what proved to be a harbinger of things to come. Arencibia extended the lead to 4-1 in his next at bat with his fifth home run.

Martinez ran out of gas in the sixth, retiring just two of the seven batters he faced. The other five scored as did two more after Shawn Tolleson replaced Martinez. The seven run inning ran the score to 8-4, and the Yankees seemingly sealed the deal when they added two more runs in the seventh extending their lead to 10-4.

Seemingly. Yankee starter Brandon McCarthy has been very good since joining the team. He wasn’t great in holding Texas to four runs in six innings on 108 pitches, but with 10 runs from the offense, he looked good for the win as he turned the mound over to Branden Warren to start the seventh. A single and two walks to the first four batters loaded the bases with one out. J. P. Arencibia followed with the unthinkable – he blasted his second home run of the night, a grand slam that brought the Rangers back into the game at 10-8. It was the first Ranger grand slam this season.

Again the Yankees seemingly iced the game in the eighth inning when Mark Teixeira hit a two run home run off Neal Cotts to restore the Yankees’ lead to four runs at 12-8.

Seemingly. Texas rallied back for a run in the eighth and came to bat in the ninth trailing by three. All-Star closer David Robertson came in to pitch for New York. On this night though, Robertson had command issues. He walked two batters as the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then drove home two runs with a single to close the gap to one at 12-11. Robertson then walked Alex Rios to re-load the bases and went to a 3-2 count on Adrian Beltre. He was one ball away from tying the game, but Beltre lofted a fly to the left field warning track to end the game.

McCarthy didn’t pitch well but got the win improving to 6-10 overall and 3-0 with New York. Robertson didn’t pitch well at all, but earned his 27th save. One bad inning out of six tagged Nick Martinez (1-7) with the loss.

Texas heads to Cleveland this weekend after Thursday’s off day, their first since the All-Star break. The announced pitchers are Jerome Williams (2-4, 1-0) on Friday night, Mile Mikolas (1-3) on Saturday night and Yu Darvish (10-6) on Sunday afternoon. Nick Tepesch came out of last Saturday’s game with inflammation in his knee and will not start this weekend. The road trip continues to Chicago and Houston before the Rangers return to Arlington.

INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Derek Holland made his first minor league rehab appearance Wednesday in Frisco. He struck out four, walked two, and allowed no runs or hits in two innings. He threw 33 pitches. Geovany Soto is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday at Round Rock with the goal of returning to the active roster on August 8. Jake Smolinski is still not running at full speed after fracturing a small bone in his foot. He is unlikely to be activated next Wednesday when he first becomes eligible.

NOTABLE:

* MLB.com’s Jim Callis re-ranked the top 100 minor league prospects in baseball and the Rangers’ top 20. Frisco’s Joey Gallo moved into the top spot among Ranger prospects and is number nine overall, up from number 92 in the pre-season rankings. Catcher Jorge Alfaro is second on the Rangers and 39th overall. Pitcher Luke Jackson is third and 77th. Outfielder Nick Williams is fourth and 91st. Right-handed pitcher Alex Gonzalez is fifth and 100th. The sixth through the tenth prospects are right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, both of whom were acquired from Detroit in the trade of Joakim Soria, outfielder Lewis Brinson at eight, infielder Travis Demeritte at nine, and outfielder Nomar Mazara tenth.

* Eric Nadel returned to the Rangers’ radio booth on Tuesday night after missing four contests for his trip to Cooperstown, New York to receive the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.

* Joey Gallo hit his 37th home run of the season on Tuesday night, a grand slam that went completely out of Dr. Pepper Ballpark. It broke a tie in the eighth inning. He hit 21 of those home runs for Class A Myrtle Beach before getting promoted to Frisco. 21 still leads the Carolina league, four ahead of his closest pursuer. The 16 that he has hit for the Rough Riders ranks third in the Texas league, two behind the leader. The Ranger minor league record for home runs in a season is 41, hit by Tom Robson for Spokane in 1974.

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