Will the real Texas Rangers please stand up? Texas entered the week 2-1 through the first three games of an important 10-day road trip to begin baseball’s second half. The Rangers were three games back of a Wild Card spot and were on their way to Baltimore to square off against an Orioles team that had lost eight of their last ten and featured the highest staff ERA in the American League.
Four days later, Texas came crawling out of the series with their tails tucked after being outscored 34-11 in a sweep at the hands of the Orioles. The sweep had many Ranger fans and national pundits alike wondering if Yu Darvish, among others, may be on his way out. Texas looked like a team that had no business competing for a playoff spot, and the proverbial pulling of the plug seemed imminent.
However, true to form, the Texas Rangers quickly gave us all a reason to be optimistic about 2017 once again. Texas bounced back from the dreadful series in Baltimore to sweep Tampa Bay over the weekend to conclude the road trip. The Rays entered the three game series at 51-45, winners of seven of their last ten and the leaders in the AL Wild Card race. But the Rangers scratched their way to the improbable sweep, winning all three games by one run. Texas actually trailed after the fifth inning in all three games, but timely hitting, Tampa Bay miscues and a solid weekend for the bullpen combined to deliver the season’s biggest sweep.
The Rangers went 5-5 on their ten-game road trip and finished the week 48-50, 2.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
Orioles 3, Rangers 1
Monday, July 17, 2017
W: Bleier (2-1, 1.34 ERA) L: Cashner (4-8, 3.58 ERA) SV: Brach (16)
Andrew Cashner got the nod for the series opener and he was brilliant early, shutting out the Orioles through five while clinging to a one-run lead. Baltimore manufactured the tying run in the sixth and they were given the lead for good in the seventh on Seth Smith’s 10th homerun of the season. The Smith homer chased Cashner who completed 6 2/3 innings allowing three runs on six hits. Jeremy Jeffress threw the final 1 1/3 without allowing a run.
The Texas offense managed all of three hits on the evening, two by Adrian Beltre. Jonathan Lucroy drove in the only run for the Rangers on a second inning double.
Orioles 12, Rangers 1
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
W: Bundy (9-8, 4.18 ERA) L: Ross (2-2, 7.22 ERA)
Two pitches into the game, the Rangers took an early lead on Shin-Soo Choo’s 13th homerun of the season. That was as good as it would get this evening as Texas would find themselves down by five runs by the time the first inning mercifully came to an end. Tyson Ross failed to make it out of the fourth inning, permitting nine runs on seven hits and three walks.
Orioles 10, Rangers 2
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
W: Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) L: Perez (5-7, 4.72 ERA)
Baltimore opened the scoring this evening on a solo shot from Adam Jones in the first inning and extended their lead to 3-0 on a two-out, two-run double by Jonathan Schoop in the third. The early runs were enough for the Orioles as the Texas offense once again struggled to get going. Martin Perez kept Texas in the game through six, but the flood gates opened in the seventh when Baltimore scored seven runs on six hits, one walk and one very costly error. Perez began the seventh by allowing two singles to start the inning before he was replaced by Matt Bush. Bush promptly walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, which was then followed by a costly error by catcher Robinson Chirinos at home plate. Bush was never able to regain form and was eventually replaced by Jeffress who came on to put an end to the disastrous inning.
The Texas offense did manage to get 11 baserunners on the night (eight hits and three walks) but struggled to come up with a timely hit, particularly in the middle innings when the game was still very much in doubt. Joey Gallo hit his 22nd homer of the season in the fifth inning. Chirinos drove in the other Ranger run in the ninth.
Orioles 9, Rangers 7
Thursday, July 20, 2017
W: Castro (2-1, 3.18 ERA) L: Hamels (4-1, 3.78 ERA)
The fourth and final game of the series looked good for Texas early. The Rangers jumped out to an early lead in the first on an RBI single by Adrian Beltre. Carlos Gomez drove in a run in the fourth to make it 2-0, and after Baltimore cracked the score sheet in the bottom of the fourth, Texas would respond with a three run fifth, highlighted by Mike Napoli’s 21st homerun of the season. However, Cole Hamels was unable to make the 5-1 lead stand up. Hamels allowed three in the fifth and three more in the sixth before his day was finally done. Texas did manage to score two in the ninth on a two-run single by Shin-Soo Choo to make it interesting, but they were never able to get closer than that. Hamels, who came into the game riding a 21-inning scoreless streak, picked up his first loss of the season.
Rangers 4, Rays 3
Friday, July 21, 2017
W: Claudio (2-0, 2.49 ERA) L: Boxberger (2-1, 1.42 ERA)
Yu Darvish, in what could have been his final start as a Ranger, battled Ray’s starter Alex Cobb for eight innings with neither starter willing to give in. Darvish went eight full innings allowing three runs on just five hits while striking out 12. Yet Texas trailed by two heading into the ninth. And given the offensive struggles of late, it appeared that the Rangers were on their way to their sixth straight loss. But Joey Gallo doubled to start the inning and Shin-Soo Choo followed with his 14th homer of the season to tie the game at three. Elvis Andrus picked up his third hit of the night in the tenth, an RBI single that gave Texas a 4-3 lead. Elvis also homered earlier in the game, running his career high homerun total to 12 and counting. Alex Claudio, after working a shutout ninth, came back out and recorded the final three outs of the ballgame in the 10th to pick up his second win of the season.
Rangers 4, Rays 3
Saturday, July 22, 2017
W: Cashner (5-8, 3.64 ERA) L: Archer (7-6, 3.77 ERA) SV: Claudio (4)
Andrew Cashner was once again solid giving up three earned runs in six innings of work. The bullpen, which has been stellar since the All Star break, saw three relievers combine for three innings of shutout baseball, which included a four-out save for Alex Claudio, his fourth save of the season. Elvis Andrus hit his 13th homerun of the season in the fourth, and Texas scored three unearned runs in the sixth to erase a 3-1 deficit.
Rangers 6, Rays 5
Sunday, July 23, 2017
W: Bush (3-4, 3.50 ERA) L: Boxberger (2-2, 4.91 ERA) SV: Leclerc (2)
Tyson Ross was ineffective again allowing five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but once again the Rangers bullpen was stellar. Four Rangers combined to shutout the Rays on just two hits over the final 5 1/3 innings. The effort by the pen was huge as it kept Texas within striking distance in the late innings. And the Rangers took advantage as Rougned Odor and Carlos Gomez went back-to-back in the eight, erasing a two-run deficit and giving the Rangers a 6-5 lead. For Roogie, it was his second homerun of the night and his 19th of the season. Rookie reliever Jose Leclerc walked two batters in the ninth, but was able to escape with his second save of the season.
Offensive Player of the Week – Shin-Soo Choo
Overall it was a rough week for the Texas offense, hitting just .200 as a team and scoring 25 runs in seven games. Shin-Soo Choo hit .269 with two homeruns and five runs batted in this week. His seven hits trailed only Adrian Beltre (9), while his six walks and four runs scored led the team.
Pitcher of the Week – Alex Claudio
With all due respect to Yu Darvish’s 12 K performance on Friday, the emergence of Alex Claudio as a weapon out of the bullpen cannot be denied. Claudio made two appearances this week, tossing 3 1/3 shutout innings, allowing two hits and walking none. His two appearances included a two-inning win against Tampa Bay on Friday, followed by a four-out save the following night.
This week, Texas returns home for three versus the Miami Marlins Monday through Wednesday, followed by a three-game weekend series at home against the Baltimore Orioles. This week marks the final full week of baseball before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Much like last week, the Ranger’s performance over the next seven days may play a big role in some very important decisions for the front office.
Miami comes into the series 44-52 and in fourth place in the NL East. The Marlins went 3-3 last week, losing two of three to Philadelphia at home and winning two of three against the Cincinnati Reds on the road. The Marlins are 22-26 on the road this season. Their team batting average of .266 is good for third in the National League; however, they are 11th in total runs scored with 439. Miami’s team ERA of 4.65 is the 5th worst in the National League, and the team’s starters are currently sporting a combined ERA of 5.07. Texas was unable to take advantage of a struggling pitching staff in Baltimore last week, and they are hoping the recent winning streak will put the four days in Baltimore in the rearview mirror.
Baltimore enters the week 47-51 and in fourth place in the AL East. After sweeping Texas last week, the O’s dropped two of three to the Houston Astros, salvaging the series with a 9-7 win in the series finale.
With the non-waiver trade deadline looming, the Texas Rangers find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. They will play the next nine in Arlington, which includes back-to-back series against teams with losing records. If Texas can build on their success this past weekend (and forget the debacle that took place in Baltimore) this week could be an opportunity for the Rangers to gain ground on the Wild Card leaders.
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