By Mark Miller
Don’t focus much on the way the Texas Rangers ended their 10-game homestand Sunday. Instead, concentrate on what they accomplished overall.
While the team dropped a 16-2 decision to the Chicago White Sox, it followed five straight wins that helped forge a 7-3 stretch at Globe Life Ballpark in Arlington. That left the Rangers with an 11-8 record and just 2.5 games behind the Oakland A’s in the American League West division.
The Rangers raised their home record to 9-4, best in the Major Leagues, with three wins in four games against the Seattle Mariners and two of three against Chicago. They combined enough good hitting and good pitching to keep always-optimistic manager Ron Washington in good spirits.
“Definitely satisfied,” Washington said Sunday. “The way things came out we won each series. If we can keep winning series we’ll be fine. And we’ll get to the point where maybe things fall in place where we can sweep a series or whatever. But you just have to keep concentrating on a day at a time and play the best game we can.
“We came back from playing two teams that were pretty tough in Boston and Tampa and to get in here and do what we did, I’m very pleased with it. ”
Offensively, it truly was a team effort as nearly every player contributed. Among the notable performances were from center fielder Leonys Martin (.400 average), third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (.345, 2 home runs, 8 runs batted in), first baseman Prince Fielder with his first two homers of 2014, and right-fielder Alex Rios (.367 average).
On the mound, Colby Lewis pitched well in both debut outings, winning his first game in nearly two years Saturday. Martin Perez turned in his first career shutout and third straight strong outing of 2014. Yu Darvish had another strong outing (two runs, eight strikeouts in seven innings) but no decision. Joakim Soria saved both games in which he pitched. And rookie Pedro Figueroa earned his first two major league victories.
Unfortunately, two more players went on the disabled list – Opening Day starting pitcher Tanner Scheppers and reserve outfielder Jim Adduci. That increased the number of current team members on the dreaded list to 10. Fortunately, the Rangers keep coming up with people to fill the gap, at least at home.
Extended road stay begins in Oakland
After spending most of April at home, the Rangers begin a string of 11 of 14 games on the road Monday in Oakland. They play three games against the defending American League West division champion Athletics before moving to Seattle for three this upcoming weekend against the Mariners.
“I know what Oakland has. I’m not curious about the series. I’m looking forward to going there and playing them,” Washington said. “If you are going to do anything you have to go through Oakland. I’m ready to go play the three games and see what happens.”
The A’s enter the series with an American League-best 13-5 record after sweeping the Houston Astros at home. They are led by second baseman Alberto Callaspo (.321 average), third baseman Josh Donaldson and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (four homers each) and first baseman Brandon Moss (15 RBI). Former Ranger Craig Gentry is batting .389 in eight games since returning from the disabled list.
Pitching has been anchored by starters Sonny Gray (3-0 record, 1.80 earned run average) and Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.65) and relievers Dan Otero (3-0, 1.00) and closer Luke Gregerson (0-0, 1.69, three saves in five opportunities).
The Mariners start the week at 7-11 after being swept by the Miami Marlins in South Florida over the weekend. Former Ranger Justin Smoak was the only player to appear in all seven games and bat above .250 (.286). Corey Hart batted .400 in five games.
Cuban rookie Roenis Elias had the week’s only win to go with a loss and a 3.65 ERA while Seattle’s bullpen blew two saves.
4/21 @Athletics 9:05 p.m.
4/22 @Athletics 9:05 p.m.
4/23 @Athletics 2:35 p.m.
4/25 @Mariners 9:10 p.m.
4/26 @Mariners 8:10 p.m.
4/27 @Mariners 3:10 p.m.