The Rangers began the unofficial second half of the season with a Lone Star showdown against the first place Houston Astros. This weekend became the last time, barring any playoff matchups, that the Astros and Rangers meet at Globe Life Park. For the Rangers, the after-break stretch starts with thirteen of sixteen games against teams at .500 or better (a three-game series against Seattle mixed in). The series against Houston started on a high note, but the note deteriorated to a split four-game stretch. Here’s how it went down.
Player of the Game: Lance Lynn continued to prove his case for being an All-Star. Lynn stifled a strong Houston Astros lineup and shut them out for seven innings. Lynn allowed six hits and two walks while striking out a season-high eleven. Thursday marked the fourth double-digit strikeout game of 2019 for Lynn. Lance accumulated his fourteenth quality start this season and his eleventh in his last twelve outings.
C̶a̶n̶'̶t̶ Couldn't touch this. pic.twitter.com/ghemTa83AG
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 12, 2019
Crazy Stat: The Rangers tagged Astros starter Framber Valdez in the first for four runs. Elvis picked up an RBI on a groundout, Joey Gallo doubled Delino home, and Rougned Odor drove in two on a double. In the fifth inning, Odor drew a walk. That walk snapped a streak of seventy-two plate appearances since the last walk drew from Rougie.
Prior to Friday’s game, Chris Woodward talked about the improvements he saw from Rougned Odor at the dish. “I feel like his path is much better, his swing path is much better,” Woodward said. “He had struggled against fastballs, so now you’re seeing a calmer version of him where he’s kind of on time. Before he was selling out to get to the heater, everything was so rushed to get to the fastball. He’s doing a better job of staying in the strike zone, so when he’s getting those pitches to hit, he’s getting his “A” swing off of them. I’m just seeing consistency in putting the barrel on the ball, getting his swing on plane, on [the] path and the results are speaking for themselves with the damage he’s doing. He’s ready to hit.” Since June 23rd, Odor is fifteen for his last fifty-three (.283 average).
Player of the Game: Danny Santana kept his case as an amazing success story in 2019. Santana hit his tenth home run in the second inning off Gerrit Cole. Finally, it was Danny’s single that won it in the ninth, completing the come from behind win.
The 9 homers by both clubs tonight are the most at Globe Life Park since August 13, 2010 versus Boston. The record is 10, twice in 2005. Texas has 5 HR in a game for third time in 2019.
— John Blake (@RangerBlake) July 13, 2019
Player of the Game: After a struggling start by Rangers ace Mike Minor, the Rangers turned to their bullpen and brought out Adrian Sampson to relieve Minor and Phillips Valdez. After a one-inning outing on Friday, Sampson followed with 2.2 innings of one-hit baseball. Adrian struck out two Astros and did not walk a batter.
Since the Rangers have two off-days this upcoming week, Chris Woodward talked before the game about Adrian Sampson’s role. “[We’re] putting him in the bullpen until the Seattle series, just because we don’t need 5 starters. He’ll serve in some leveraged roles for us, especially against the Astros; parts of their lineup are right handed. He had some success against Houston. He pitched well out of the bullpen. So we figured that’d be a good option for us to put him in there and use him when we want and use him multiple innings. “
Crazy Stat: Shin-Soo Choo led off another game with a solo home run. It also was Choo’s 37th birthday on Saturday. With that homer, Choo became the third Ranger in 2019 to hit a home run on his birthday. Jeff Mathis homered on March 31st against the Chicago Cubs, and Nomar Mazara hit one out in Seattle on April 26th.
Shin-Soo Choo took the third pitch he saw deep to right field in yesterday's win against Houston.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 14, 2019
Player of the Game: There wasn’t too much to cheer for today. However, Willie Calhoun provided a small offensive spark in both innings the Rangers scored. Calhoun finished the day two for four with a run scored in the first and a run driven in during the seventh. Calhoun also made a fabulous shoe-string play robbing Myles Straw of a base hit.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 14, 2019
Crazy Stat: Danny Santana’s pinch hit walk did snap twelve consecutive home games for Danny with a base hit, but he extended his on-base home streak to thirteen games.
Analysis: The Rangers split a four-game series with Houston, which if you told me that information on Wednesday, I’d be somewhat satisfied. However, like the Boston series, it’s how those four games came about where the Rangers had chances to win each of those series. The Rangers bullpen looms concern (outside of LeClerc and Kelley mostly). It’ll be interesting if any major adjustments on the pitching staff will transpire in the upcoming weeks, outside of the trade rumors.
The Rangers finish their home interleague schedule of 2019 by welcoming the Arizona Diamondbacks to Globe Life Park. Arizona came off losing their last two against the Cardinals after riding a four-game winning streak. Texas will see young Alex Young on Tuesday, making his fourth career appearance and third career start. The Diamondbacks are dealing with some key starting pitching injuries, including Jon Duplantier, Luke Weaver, and Taijuan Walker. At an even 47-47 record, Arizona rests only 1.5 back of Philadelphia for the second wild-card spot and only 3 games behind the first wild-card spot Washington Nationals.
The Rangers and Astros meet again this weekend, this time in Houston. The final five meetings between these two clubs come at Minute Maid Park. If the rotation stands, Friday’s projected pitching matchup looks to be Mike Minor against Justin Verlander as Minor will get another crack at this Houston lineup. Minor got critical in his previous two starts after Saturday’s game. “I pitched like [crap] the last two.” Minor said, “I feel like I’m, I don’t know, lack of focus or something. There [are] lapses in there where I get ahead of guys and I don’t throw the put-away pitch where I’m leaving them over the plate too much. That’s how I look at it.”
Even with a frustrating end to the weekend against Houston, the Rangers are still within striking distance. The club ends the weekend still within three games of a Wild Card spot. There are still a lot of things to sort out, especially on the pitching side. One thing is looming, Hunter Pence is close to come back to the team. Trust me, a Hunter Pence return is definitely what this team needs.
— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) July 9, 2019
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