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Rangers insert themselves into the early playoff race with big week

Rangers insert themselves into the early playoff race with big week

The Texas Rangers began last week on the road against the Seattle Mariners. They had just finished a road series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I really wish they would shorten that name) which saw them lose two out of three against the Halos. Would their struggles on the road continue against a Mariners team that started the season with a 13-2 record but has since descended to last place in the AL West?

Seattle Mariners

Game one

The Rangers lost the first game of the three-game series by a score of 6-2. Lance Lynn got the loss although he delivered a quality start going six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. The star of the show, however, was on the Mariners’ side. Seattle center fielder Mallex Smith stole four bases including a stolen base cycle in which he stole second, third and home in the same inning.

After five innings, the score was in Seattle’s favor at 3-2. The Rangers’ offense failed to come back and the Texas bullpen, featuring Jose Leclerc and Kyle Bird, combined to allow three more runs in relief of Lynn.

Game two

Texas won the second game 11-4 behind a good start from “opener” pitcher Jesse Chavez and, at this point, the best outing of Adrian Sampson’s young career as he tossed five innings while allowing just three runs. Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara continued heating up as he went 2-for-4 with a home run.

Game three

The rubber match of the series saw Texas manager Chris Woodward once again go with the “opener” pitcher. This time it was Jose Leclerc. Leclerc pitched a scoreless first inning, with the Rangers already up 3-0, before giving the ball to Drew Smyly who proceeded to allow seven runs over five innings.  The game went back-and-forth with Texas finally getting the winning run in the ninth on an RBI double by Asdrubal Cabrera that scored Nomar Mazara, who had doubled before him.

The series win against Seattle was just the Rangers’ second road series win on the season and left them with their first road trip with a .500 record. The focus now shifted back to Globe Life Park in Arlington where they had an 11-game homestand waiting for them.

Kansas City Royals

Game one

The Rangers opened their four-game series with a 4-2 loss. Mike Minor allowed three runs over five innings. The only offensive bright spot was Nomar Mazara who hit another home run. He continued to look better at the plate. This was a guy who just a couple of weeks ago was being referred to on social media by some as Nomar “MEH”zara. Now he was back on their good side.

Game two

The second game saw the Rangers win 6-2 behind starter Ariel Jurado who had the best game of his career. He allowed two runs over six innings, getting a quailty start and a huge win. What made it more special was that he did it with his family present. The Rangers scored all six runs in the bottom of the sixth that was capped off by Joey Gallo’s first career grand slam.

Game three

Lance Lynn tossed another quality start as he allowed two runs over 6 1/3 IP while striking out seven with no walks. Texas won the game again with a 6-2 score. But there was a bigger story that would develop. Joey Gallo came to bat in the bottom of the fifth and swung at a pitch and immediately grabbed his side. Manager Chris Woodward came out and talked to him and returned back to the dugout. After the next pitch Woodward realized something was really wrong with Gallo. He came back out and removed Joey. Danny Santana came in and finished the at-bat. It was later determined to be a mild oblique strain that Gallo apparently suffered while fielding a ball in the top of the fifth. Gallo would eventually be placed on the 10-day IL the next day. There’s no telling how much time he’ll miss, but this a major loss for the Rangers as Joey was having an all-star caliber season.

Game four

The Rangers won the series 5-1 behind a stellar performance from starter Adrian Sampson. Sampson allowed one run over eight innings while striking out a career high 11 and walking nobody. The game also featured a great tribute by some players who wore their pants at or above their knees in honor of Hunter Pence who had been named the Rangers player of the month for May.

UPCOMING GAMES

The Rangers continue the homestand this week with with three games against the Baltimore Orioles and four with the Oakland A’s.

Probable starters

Tuesday: Drew Smyly (TEX) 1-3, 6.98 ERA VS Dylan Bundy (BAL) 2-6, 4.58 ERA

Wednesday: Mike Minor (TEX) 5-4, 2.74 ERA VS John Means (BAL) 5-4, 2.80 ERA

Thursday: Ariel Jurado (TEX) 2-2, 2.34 ERA VS Andrew Cashner (BAL) 6-2, 5.04 ERA

Friday: Lance Lynn (TEX) 7-4, 4.50 ERA VS TBD (OAK)

Saturday features a doubleheader as a result of a make-up from April 13th. As a result teams have yet to name starters for those two games as well as Sunday’s.

WRAP-UP

The Rangers go into Tuesday with a 30-27 record. They are in second place, 8.5 games behind the Houston Astros and have a one game lead for the second wild card spot. This is not what was expected when the season began.

The biggest positive for this team has been the performance of the starting pitchers. They have been going deeper into innings which has saved the bullpen and kept the team in games.

The loss of Joey Gallo will hurt but the team still has the offense to compete. If there’s any big disappointment on offense it remains Rougned Odor. He has his good games but they are akin to witnessing Halley’s Comet these days. He needs to turn things around and quick. Even manager Chris Woodward finally expressed his opinions on Odor, saying that it was frustrating at how many fastball strikes he was missing on. Something may have to be done with him at some time.

For now fans should continue to enjoy this surprise “rebuilding” season that the Texas Rangers are having.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!

 

 

James Holland is a staff writer for Dallas Sports Fanatic. He's a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He's also a karaoke addict who hosts shows at his favorite bar in Arlington.

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