Rangers move atop division with four road wins

Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have a showdown with the A's starting Monday. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have a showdown with the A’s starting Monday. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Mark Miller

Thanks to sweeping their new arch rival and adding another victory on the road over the weekend, the Texas Rangers ended last week tied for the lead in their own division with a share of the best record in the American League. Had they not given up the lead late Sunday afternoon, both milestones would have been theirs.

The team opened the week by sweeping the Oakland Athletics before dropping two of three in Seattle. That left them with a 15-10 record, tied with the A’s and New York Yankees nearing the end of the first month of the 2014 season.

Texas earned their first sweep at O.co Stadium in three years with 4-3, 5-4 and 3-0 victories. They then lost 6-5, won 6-3, and lost 6-5 to the Mariners. The latter outcome came courtesy of two home runs by Kyle Seager, the latter a three-run shot off Alexi Ogando.

“It was a tough loss but it was still a pretty good road trip,” shortstop Elvin Andrus told mlb.com

“All losses are tough but those days are going to happen,” second baseman Josh Wilson said. “You’re going to lose some tough ones but that’s the good thing about baseball. There’s always a game tomorrow so you have a chance to come back and erase it.”

The loss spoiled a great season debut by Matt Harrison. Pitching for the first time in more than a year, the left-hander yielded just two runs and three hits in six innings and would have been the winner had his team’s lead held up.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s a pitcher that’s won big games in the past for them. We were very fortunate to get some pitches that we could handle in the zone off him. He’s usually pretty tough. I believe this was his first time back so I suspect next time we face him we’ll have to battle a little tougher. He pitched pretty good.”

Also pitching well was left-hander Martin Perez, who shut out Oakland on three hits Wednesday. Not only was it his second-straight shutout but ran his streak of scoreless innings to 26. Closer Joakim Soria saved three more games for a perfect six-pack for the season. Starters Robbie Ross and Colby Lewis also pitched well while Alex Rios hit .375 and Mitch Moreland .357 for the week.

Quick trip home to decide AL West
The Rangers flew home after Sunday’s game with Seattle to start a three-game homestand against Oakland. Whichever team wins the series will leave Texas with the division lead with Monday’s opener matching Yu Darvish against Sonny Gray. The A’s hope outfielder Yoenis Cespedes returns to the lineup after missing the weekend series against the Houston Astros with a mild hamstring strain.

Texas returns to the road this upcoming weekend at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who enter the week with an 11-13 record after dropping their final two games at the New York Yankees. Former Ranger Josh Hamilton will not play as he continues to mend from thumb surgery and the Rangers also will miss former teammate C.J. Wilson whose pitching turn will not come up in the series.

They will likely meet first baseman Albert Pujols who has started strong with nine home runs and 21 runs batted in. Outfielder Mike Trout has added six HRs and 15 RBI. Starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs both entered the week with 2-0 records.

Upcoming Schedule
4/28  vs A’s        7:00 p.m.
4/29  vs A’s        7:05 p.m.
4/30  vs A’s        7:05 p.m.
5/2     @Angels  9:05 p.m.
5/3     @Angels  8:05 p.m.
5/4     @Angels  2:35 p.m.