(WARNING: The following article does not contain sunshines, rainbows or unicorns. If you are the faint of heart please contact your physician before scrolling any further.)
The Texas Rangers embarked on a nine game road trip that began last week which saw them facing the Pittsburgh Pirates in an interleague matchup. That was followed with a four game series in Houston in another battle for the infamous Silver Boot. For some unexplained reason the Rangers have yet to figure out how to win games away from Arlington. They began the week with 12-7 record at home but just 4-9 on the road. Needless to say, things didn’t get any better.
Rangers at Pirates
This was, like the the week before in Texas, a quick two-game series between both teams.
Texas lost the first game on Tuesday by a score of 5-4. Rangers’ pitcher Adrian Sampson went five innings while also allowing all five runs that Pittsburgh would need. The bright spot for Texas was Hunter Pence who went 3-for-3 with a home run and all four of the Rangers runs. Manager Chris Woodward realized that he couldn’t keep Pence’s bat out of the lineup and it was the right decision. Woodward also moved the struggling Rougned Odor to fifth in the lineup to no avail. Odor went 0-for-3 at the plate.
The Rangers won the quick rubber match on Wednesday defeating the Pirates 9-6. Shelby Miller allowed just two runs versus the Pirates through just four innings pitched while also striking out six. The bullpen didn’t fare so well and the Rangers saw themselves down 6-2 after seven innings. Just when things looked bleak, Hunter Pence was called in to pinch hit in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. The result was a grand slam that tied the game at six. Odor only had one hit, but it was a two-run home run that sealed the win for the Rangers.
After the game it was announced that Delino DeShields had been optioned to AAA Nashville in order to make room on the roster for first baseman Ronald Guzman. Guzman had spent almost an entire month on the IL with a hamstring injury.
Rangers at Astros
This was a four game series in Houston that had two big possible outcomes: Texas sweeps Houston and they could find themselves in first place or…the Astros sweep the Rangers and Texas could end up in the cellar in the AL West. Otherwise, fans could just pray for at least a series split. Unfortunately the only split done during the series was by Ronald Guzman in a play at first that saw the Astros lose star player Jose Altuve to a hamstring issue while legging out an infield single.
The Rangers lost the first game 4-2. The only offense for Texas was provided by Hunter Pence who went 1-for-3 with two RBI and was robbed later in the game of a home run by right fielder Josh Reddick who reached over the wall to snag the ball. Starting pitcher Mike Minor continued to impress as the Rangers ace. He tossed seven innings of three run baseball.
The second game saw the Rangers’ offense dominated by Astros’ starter Justin Verlander. Verlander pitched seven innings of one-hit baseball. Rangers’ starter Lance Lynn was also impressive as he also went seven innings, though he gave up the only three runs that Houston would need as Texas lost 3-0. Mike Minor and Lance Lynn both had back-to-back “quality starts” (minimum six innings with three or less earned runs) proving, once again, that the stat is only worth points in fantasy baseball.
The third game of the series saw the Rangers fall hard 11-4 behind Houston starter Gerrit Cole who struck out twelve while allowing just one run over six innings. Hunter Pence did manage to get revenge on Josh Reddick as he slapped a home run just beyond Reddick’s reach into the right field bleachers.
The final game of the series actually saw Texas fall harder than the previous game. Houston native Corbin Martin made his major league debut for the Astros and, unlike a lot of players in their first game. he had no butterflies. He had nerves of steel. He allowed just two runs over 5 1/3 innings pitched while striking out nine. Rangers’ starter Adrian Sampson only lasted 3 1/3 innings while giving up six runs (five earned). The Rangers fell 15-5.
Mike Minor and Lance Lynn still prove to be a good one-two punch in the starting rotation. The only problem is the offenses lack of production. Speaking of offense, Hunter Pence continues to make a case to be the American League comeback player of the year. If the Rangers are sellers come the trade deadline, Mike Minor and Pence could be valuable trade pieces.
Rougned Odor hit both fifth and sixth and still lacked in production, though he did have one home run last week. He was benched on Sunday. It’s time for him to start hitting ninth in the lineup.
Week Seven Preview
Texas starts a road series in Kansas City versus the Royals on Tuesday. The Rangers come in with a record of 17-21 while the Royals are 14-27. Both teams are in rebuilding years. This could be an ugly series for either team.
Tuesday: (TEX) Shelby Miller (1-2, 7.48 ERA) vs (KC) Danny Duffy (1-1, 3.06 ERA)
Wednesday (TEX) Mike Minor (3-3, 2.68 ERA) vs (KC) Jorge Lopez (0-4, 6.07 ERA)
Thursday (TEX) Lance Lynn (4-3, 5.48 ERA) vs (KC) Homer Bailey (4-3, 4.83 ERA)
Texas ends the week back at home with a three game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. That, of course, means that we’ll be subjected to discussions about a certain game that I will not mention. As of this writing Drew Smyly (0-3, 6.35 ERA) is the only scheduled starter in Friday’s game as the Cardinals have yet to announce theirs. There are no probables listed for the rest of the weekend.
The good news is that the Rangers are only four games below .500. They are playing a weak Royals team (though on the dreaded road) before returning to the safety of home. They have a really good chance of being back into the plus side of the win column by the start of next week. For now, though, it may be time to stock up on TUMS.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!
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