Brought to you by: Big Shucks
The Texas Rangers traveled to the West Coast to play two series against AL West opposition. They began the week with a Cole Hamels start against the Angels. Hamels pitched very well, surrendering just one earned run in seven innings. Jonathan Lucroy smashed a three-run homer after an Elvis Andrus homer in the 3rd. The Rangers carried a 5-2 lead into the 9th inning when Sam Dyson entered the game. Dyson’s struggles continued; he gave up three runs and the game went into extra innings. The Angels quickly captured a walk-off victory in the 10th inning, and the Rangers lost another close game. One of the Rangers’ biggest strengths last year was their ability to win close games. This season Dyson has struggled, and the Rangers have struggled to close out games.
The second and third game of the series were both 8-3 victories for the Rangers, circumventing the need for a closer. AJ Griffin turned in a quality start as he was provided with excelled with run support, as he often does. The Rangers offense was sharp. Napoli, Andrus, and Gomez all hit home runs. Joey Gallo continued to impress in lieu of Adrian Beltre. Gallo crushed a two-run triple in the 5th. Gallo’s average is deceptively low, he walks frequently and his on base percentage is .311.
Yu Darvish pitched in the rubber match of the Angels series and turned in ten strikeouts over seven innings. Darvish did not give up a single run, and gave the Rangers a nearly unblowable eight run lead. The top of the Rangers lineup was lethal, Gomez, Choo, and Mazara all had a least one hit, RBI, and run. Mazara continued his excellent play from the opening week. Elvis Andrus continued his season of multi-hit games, going 2-4 and scoring twice. Elvis’ offense numbers improved significantly last year, and the change seems to be lasting. Robinson Chirinos also contributed to the offensive explosion, tallying another multi-RBI game. Solid starting pitching and a plethora of offense secured a series victory for the Rangers.
The Rangers flew north to Seattle to take on King Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. King Felix shut down the Rangers, only surrendering a single run to 21 year old Nomar Mazara. The Rangers were unable to hit Hernandez, and lost a close 2-1 game. Andrus managed a multi-hit game and a stolen base. The difference in the game was solo home run by former Ranger Nelson Cruz.
Andrew Cashner made his Rangers’ debut in game two of the series. He pitched five great innings and then ran into trouble. The only runs of the game came in the 6th inning, when Cashner encountered trouble. The Mariners managed 5 runs in that inning. The Mariners’ James Paxton pitched eight innings of two-hit baseball. The Rangers fell 5-0 and looked to rekindle their offense against Hisashi Iwakuma.
The Rangers succeeded in attacking Iwakuma. He was chased after three innings and surrendered six runs. The Rangers established a quick 6-1 lead, Shin-Shoo Choo was responsible for five of a six RBIs. Cole Hamels did not pitch as well as he did earlier in the week, and failed to turn in a quality start. The Rangers bullpen was left to try to hold a small lead for four innings. Tony Barnette gave up two earned runs and was relieved by Alex Claudio. The game was tied 6-6 when Nomar Mazara hit a high homer to right field in the top of the 9th. The solo shot gave the Rangers a 7-6 lead and Manager Jeff Bannister went with his closer in a one run game. Dyson struggled profoundly, failing to convert outs against the 8th and 9th hitters, both of which hit the ball to him. Dyson then walked in a run, and gave up a walkoff single.
This week was brutal for the Rangers. They were swept by the Mariners, who had two wins entering the series. The Rangers also now have bonafide closer issues, as Sam Dyson looks just as bad as he did this last week. Dyson was obliterated in both of his save opportunities this week. In the game against the Angels the balls were crushed and he blew another save. The game against the Mariners is arguably more haunting, since Dyson struggled with both control and fielding. Dyson even had an opportunity to work in a no pressure situation this week. He logged a scoreless inning in the 5-0 loss to the Mariners. Ultimately it looks as though Dyson will switch roles with Matt Bush or Tony Barnette, similar to how he took Shawn Tolleson’s job last year.
Nomar Mazara continues to put up incredible offensive numbers. The Big Chill ended the week tied for the AL lead in RBIs. Joey Gallo continued to hit for power and walk regularly. Beltre suffered a setback, allowing Gallo to keep getting starts after his solid opening week. Gallo is tied for the team lead in walks, with six.
The Rangers have a plethora of offensive weapons. They are also having issues with their late inning bullpen, an essential part of a playoff team and an element they believed to be a strength. The Rangers were only swept three times throughout all of last year. They have been swept twice in the first two weeks.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
4/17 @A’s 9:05 p.m.
4/18 @A’s 9:05 p.m.
4/19 @A’s 2:35 p.m.
4/20 vs Royals 7:05 p.m.
4/21 vs Royals 7:05 p.m.
4/22 vs Royals 7:05 p.m.
4/23 vs Royals 2:05 p.m.