The week began promising for the Rangers. They came into the ninth inning on Tuesday with a three-run lead about to take their third win in a row. However, bullpen struggles and offensive woes hit the team hard against the Pirates and the first game against the Blue Jays. In the end, the Rangers navigated through the storm and ended the week on a positive note. Here’s how it went down.
Observations: Rangers starter Adrian Sampson pitched very skillfully on Tuesday. Sampson threw 5.2 scoreless innings allowing only five hits, no walks and striking out five Pirates. Sampson talked after the game about his great start, “The first time through the lineup, I felt like I saw what they’re doing, made a couple of adjustments, and where to put the pitches and after that, I just got on a roll.” Joey Gallo drew three walks on Tuesday, the second time this season Gallo walked three times in a game (April 3rd against the Astros).
Turning Point: Jose LeClerc came into the ninth for his first save chance since getting pulled on April 21st against the Houston Astros. Jose allowed three straight hits to begin the inning. After retiring Marte and Polanco on strikeouts, Irving native Josh Bell doubled to tie the game on a fastball away out of the zone. Afterwards, Woodward lifted LeClerc for Jessie Chavez.
Woodward talked the next day about LeClerc’s struggles and dedication. “He works harder than anybody and cares more than anybody.” Woody added, “He wants to be the guy and wants to win more than anybody. It’s a beautiful thing, but it also rips your soul out. I told him that this game has a weird way of doing that to you when you’re down, it’ll keep kicking you, pushing you down, [and] keep testing you.”
Crazy Stats: Joey Gallo’s 467-foot missile in the 11th to right center was his tenth of the season. That set a franchise record for most home runs by the end of the April. That was also only the third home run allowed by Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez in his career against left-handed hitters (336 ABs against lefty hitters).
Observations: Rangers starter Shelby Miller looked masterful in the first three innings, but the fourth inning was his downfall. After allowing five of the first six hitters in the fourth to reach, Chris Woodward pulled Shelby for Ariel Jurado. Woodard talked after the game about Shelby Miller’s inconsistency throughout his starts, “The first three innings I thought he was fantastic, it’s one of those things [the fourth inning] that just snowballs and we can’t get out of it.”
Asdrúbal Cabrera continued raking at home, doubling and scoring the first run of the game in the second inning. Cabrera always had success at Globe Life Park, even before he was a Texas Ranger. Prior to 2019, Cabrera was a career .288 hitter in Arlington, and after Wednesday, Cabrera is hitting .278 at GLP. I asked Asdrúbal about his success at Globe Life. “I don’t know, it’s hard to tell, [I] come and do the majority work [and] for some reason I have hit well [here] over the years.”
Turning Point: Shin-Soo Choo came up with runners on second and third, one out with a golden chance to tie the game up with a base hit. Choo ended up striking out against the Pirates closer. On Tuesday, Woodward pinch hit for Choo, which made the at-bat more ironic.
Crazy Stat: Shin-Soo Choo flew out to center field to begin the Rangers first inning. Previous to Wednesday’s contest, Choo was 12 for his last 14 leading off the first inning for the Rangers (.857 batting average).
Observations: The Rangers and Blue Jays went scoreless for eleven innings thanks to terrific starts by Mike Minor and Trent Thornton. Both starters combined for eight hits, four walks, fourteen strikeouts, forty-five batters retired, and more importantly, zero runs allowed. Friday’s game was the first game this season that the Rangers failed to score a run.
Turning Point: There were multiple turning points late. The Rangers had a runner at third in the tenth (with one out) and eleventh (with two outs), and could not drive the runner home. The only run of the game was on an Ariel Jurado throwing error wide of Cabrera at third.
Crazy Stats: The 1-0 12th inning loss was the first time in Rangers history that they were shut out in extra innings at Globe Life Park. Joey Gallo committed his first error of the 2019 season on Friday.
That is just the third error for Joey Gallo in his MLB career in left field. Joey has played 1079.2 innings in left coming into today's game.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) May 4, 2019
Observations: The Rangers offense took full advantage of Pannone, who allowed seven earned runs Saturday. The Rangers scored all eight runs in the first three innings, including a Nomar Mazara cannon-shot home run to right field. Jose LeClerc pitched a scoreless seventh, placing some confidence back in the youngster.
Turning Point: Bases were full of Rangers in the second for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. IKF shot a liner to right center field, clearing the bases for a three-run triple. In the next inning, IKF grounded into a fielder’s choice, beating out a potential double play. He drove in his fourth run, a career high.
Crazy Stat: Shin-Soo Choo did not reach base on Saturday. It was just the second game (that he started) since April 1st that Choo did not reach base. In that span, Choo started twenty-five games.
Observations: The Rangers head to their triple play event on Sunday night in positive upbringings. Drew Smyly returned from the injured list on Sunday. The Rangers limited Smyly’s outing, but it was effective. Drew went four innings, allowed two hits, one run, and struck out five Blue Jays. Asdrúbal Cabrera’s defensive work at third looks incredible as each day turns. I asked Cabrera on Wednesday on how comfortable he looks at third base, a position he wasn’t as comfortable prior to 2019. “It was working from spring training (and I) tried to enjoy that and do my best.” Cabrera said.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) May 5, 2019
Turning Point: Rougned Odor snapped an 0 for 21 with his second inning home run off Clay Bucholtz on an off-speed pitch. It was a curious pitch selection considering Odor’s main struggles at the dish involve more with fastballs than off-speed pitches. It jump-started the offense and jump-started Rougie himself.
You really can't make this stuff up ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/gf7Rl3I9tm
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 5, 2019
This Week Ahead for the Rangers
Tuesday May 7 – Adrian Sampson (0-1, 3.58) vs Steven Brault (0-1, 8.31)
Wednesday May 8 – Shelby Miller (1-2, 7.99) vs Nick Kingham (1-0, 6.39)
The Rangers head to Pittsburgh for the first time since June 2007. The Pirates made a few roster moves with their pitching staff this past weekend. With that said, the Rangers will face two pitchers making their first starts of 2019. The Rangers saw Brault briefly last Tuesday. Brault pitched two shutout innings and struck out three in that game. Josh Bell continued his tear on Saturday with a multi-homer game. However, the Rangers may miss a familiar friend. Keone Kela left Saturday’s game with right shoulder discomfort. Remember folks, Wednesday’s game is an afternoon matinee at 11:35 am DFW time. Tuesday’s contest is at 6 pm.
Thursday May 9 – Mike Minor (3-2, 2.40) vs Wade Miley (2-2, 3.20)
Friday May 10 – Lance Lynn (4-2, 5.75) vs Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.86)
Saturday May 11 – Drew Smyly (0-2, 6.63) vs Gerrit Cole (2-4, 3.95)
Sunday May 12 – Adrian Sampson (0-1, 3.58) vs Collin McHugh (3-3, 4.97)
The Rangers expect Ronald Guzman to return on Thursday to begin this four-game series. Despite the Astros dominating the Rangers in recent years, most of the domination came in Arlington. The Rangers went 6-3 in Houston in 2018 and overall have won 11 of the last 16 head to head meetings in south Texas. The Astros are coming off a brief two-game sweep of the Angels in Monterrey, Mexico and welcome the Royals before the Rangers come to town. The first three games are at seven at night while the Mother’s Day contest is at one in the afternoon.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) May 5, 2019
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