Texas Rangers: Beat La Russa, Fail to Maintain Momentum

The Texas Rangers ask a lot of starting pitcher Jon Gray each time he takes the mound.
Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Wiley Singleton

The Rangers began their road trip two weeks ago in Cleveland. They faced the Cleveland “Guardians,” who used to be called the Indians. This name change is yet another step in the wrong direction from a rapidly decaying society. If the Cleveland Indians had any history worth remembering I might go as far as to call it a tragedy. The Guardians new logo looks like trashy MS Paint clipart. 

Series at Cleveland

Game 1 – Jon Gray lost the opening game of the series. 5 IP, 5 ER. Nate Lowe, Adolis Garcia, and Sam Huff all went hitless. The Indians forgettable lineup posted 9 hits in the opening salvo. Loss 6-3.

Game 2 – Marcus Semien finally woke up in this game. He went 4-4 with a walk from the top of the lineup. Naturally Corey Seager went hitless behind him. Seager and Semien were tasked with carrying the offense this season. They have both been subpar. They never hit on the same day. Which makes mathematical sense when you consider neither of them have spent time hitting over .240 this season. The Rangers badly need these two to step up if they want to win over 75 games. Taylor Hearn failed to record a quality start. He struggles with control issues. Dennis Santana, John King, and Joe Barlow all turned in scoreless innings in this one. Win 6-3.

Game 3 – The rubber match of this series was the sort of letdown performance that has characterized crucial Rangers games up to this point. As soon as the Rangers are ready to take the next step they have an awful performance. Dane Dunning was decent but was let down by sloppy defense as usual. Cleveland’s ace Shane Bieber turned in 4.1 IP of great ball. The Rangers bats were hapless in this one. Uncompetitive and uninspired. This Cleveland team is not that good. They were predicted to be about as good as the Rangers. Mitch Garver went 0-4 before getting hurt again. Loss 4-0.

The Rangers traveled to Chicago to take on Tony La Russa’s struggling White Sox. La Russa managed the 2011 Cardinals that defeated the Rangers in their last World Series appearence. The White Sox were the heavy favorite to win the division. They have been struggling. 

Series at Chicago

Game 1 – Both teams used an opener in this game. Matt Bush started for the Rangers. He got into trouble but escaped with no damage. The Sox were up 1-0 when Nate Lowe hit a towering homer to deep right field to tie the game at 1. Adolis Garcia hit a solo homer in the 6th. Luis Robert tore around the bases, stealing twice and forcing an errant throw to knot the game at 2 afterwards. Nate Lowe came up big again after La Russa’s small ball strategy tied the game. He blasted a double to left field, showing his strength of hitting to all fields. He was stranded at 2nd. AJ Pollock hit a double over Brad Miller’s head in the 7th to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. Corey Seager came up in the 8th and smoked a solo shot to knot the game again. 

What unfolded next was truly repugnant. After recording 2 quick outs John King failed to field an easy toss to first from Nate Lowe. The Rangers are not deep enough to give away outs. King proceeded to throw one pitch after another down the middle of the plate after giving away the potential 3rd out. When the fire was extinguished and the corpses pulled off the field, the White Sox were up 8-3. John “Pocket” Kings ran into aces. Then he bought in five more times and grenaded off those buy-ins. It is rare in baseball for one guy to lose a game for his team. John King solo lost this game. Loss 8-3.

Game 2 – Great pitching matchup in this one. Martin Perez vs Lucas Giolito. The Rangers were primed to score against Giolito after Semien and Seager reached base to open the game. Seager and Semien getting on back to back basically never happens. Giolito turned it up and broke out his high heater to escape the inning with 3 strikeouts. Perez ran into similar trouble. He loaded the bases before facing Yoan Moncada. Moncada is a fierce slugger. He is also the coldest player in MLB. Perez lobotomized him with a backdoor cutter to escape the jam. The Sox touched up Perez in this one. His final line was 12 hits, 6 ER, 5 IP. He had to labor and grind to get even that line. The Sox were up 5-0 with their ace on the mound going into the top of the 5th. 

Semien worked a walk to load the bases. Seager came up and hit a towering fly ball that was almost a grand slam. It advanced all the runners. Mercifully Adolis Garcia came up right after and smashed a homer to score the runners. Perez ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the inning. Corey Seager’s sub par defense cost Perez a run this inning. Seager’s defense is very worrisome. It was 7-4 Sox going into the 6th. The Rangers mounted a rally behind Brad Miller and Kole Calhoun. Jonah Heim cracked a deep fly ball to drive in Calhoun to tie the game.

The Rangers badly needed to stem the flow of runs. Enter Matt Moore. Moore was razor sharp, recording 5 K’s over 2 IP. He had his big curveball working and looked like Prime 2011 Matt Moore. The Rangers used Moore’s hold to bring the game to extras. Nate Lowe would scorch a ball the other way to score the gimmick runner in the top of the 10th. They kept pouring it on, capping off the rally with a Marcus Semien hit to deep left. Joe Barlow would need all 4 runs they scored, as he made things interesting in the bottom of the 10th. Thankfully Barlow escaped the trouble to seal the massive comeback. This was the first game of the entire season where both Semien and Seager recorded multiple hits. This was the best win of the season. Vile La Russa lost; the comeback and scrappiness was incredible. Win 11-9

Game 3 – The Rangers badly needed this rubber match. These were the sort of games the Rangers kept losing all season: important rubber matches coming off of a big win. A subsequent win could ignite a season defining win streak. Jon Gray opposed Michael Kopech. These two righties are very similar. They both throw hard, have reddish beards and similar hair styles. They are both asked to eat a lot of innings. The game began with leadoff man Marcus Semien scorching a ball to deep left, just like the last game’s 10th. Pollock robbed a homer this time though. A few pitches later, Michael Kopech turned his ankle and was forced to leave the game. The Rangers cruised to a 3-1 lead behind Jon Gray’s excellent performance. Gray really emptied the tank in the 6th, escaping a jam as his pitch count crept above 100. 

Dennis Santana loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th. A one out grounder got past Nate Lowe to tie the game. The game would remain tied going into the 10th. In extras Chris Woodward showed his tactical moxie. He walked Luis Robert with the gimmick runner on 2nd to put runners on 1st and 2nd. John King got Jose Abreu to hit into a double play, just as planned. He K’d the next batter. In the top of the 11th Ezequiel Duran hammered a 3 run bomb to make it 6-3 Rangers. 

Joe Barlow came in to try to win the game in 11. He of course made a mess of things. After giving up an initial run, he allowed a deep fly ball in the left-center field gap. Charlie Culberson lost the ball in the sun, and idiotically dove blindly into CF Eli White. White was badly injured. He broke his wrist and had to leave the game. The game was tied later that inning on a blooper. After that nightmare, Jonah Heim scorched a shot to right field to score 2 runs. The Rangers worst pitcher, Kolby Allard, came in and miraculously shut the door. The game ended on a hilarious play where Luis Robert went for 3rd base with 2 outs in the bottom of the 12th on a deep fly ball to left. Charlie Culberson threw him out after an initial moment of shock.  Win 8-6.

Series Versus Houston

Game 1 – Taylor Hearn was bad in this start against the Astros in Arlington. He gave up 3 quick runs and is wearing out his welcome in the rotation. He gave up 3 quick runs. The Rangers almost got down 5-1, but Adolis Garcia robbed Yordan Alvarez of a 2 run homer. Garcia smacked a 2 out, 2 on single to score a run. Rookie infielder Duran had an RBI single an inning later to tie the game. After that Brad Miller poked a Hector Neris splitter to the left side through the infield to give the Rangers 4-3 lead. Corey Seager added a run after Jose Altuve bobbled a double play ball. Matt Moore came in and shut the door on another great comeback win. Win 5-3.

Game 2 – Dane Dunning started in this game and was opposed by Jose Urquidy. Urquidy turned in a quality start. Dunning went 6 scoreless. The Rangers cobbled together 3 runs and took the 3-0 lead into the 8th. John King started the inning. Altuve hit a leadoff single. Brantley singled. Runners on the corners. Tailor made double play ball to Seager. Seager throws home. Altuve caught in rundown. Ball bounces off Duran’s glove. Run scores. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. Alvarez fielder’s choice for a run. Kyle Tucker 2 run homer. John King’s reign on the top [of the bullpen] may be more short-lived than Rob Stark’s kingship. Dusty Baker called this game the Astros “biggest win.” The Rangers really checked all the boxes in this sewer game. Late blown lead, divisional loss, rival loss, squandered a win that would put them near .500 and start a bonafide win streak. Loss 4-3.

Game 3 – The Rangers failed to show up for the rubber match as usual. They started Tyson Miller, which is about as close as you can get to literally not showing up in MLB. Miller’s line: .2 IP, 6 ER. Disaster. Charlie Culberson took a break from diving at the knees of his teammates to throw an inning of mop-up. Culberson might actually be a better pitcher than Kolby Allard, who also mopped up this unwatchable atrocity. Loss 9-2.

The Rangers traveled to Detroit to play one of the worst teams in the league.

Series at Detroit

Game 1 – Martin Perez was outdueled in this start. He went 7 IP, 1 ER. But Beau Brieske went 7 scoreless. Former rookie of the year Michael Fulmer threw a scoreless inning after. Tigers closer Gregory Soto loaded the bases then gave up a triple to rookie Duran. Joe Barlow shut the door against the worst offense in the AL. Win 3-1. 

Game 2 – Jon Gray continues to look like ace material. 7 scoreless, 6 K’s. Jonah Heim had 3 RBI. El Bombi Garcia had 2. Great game overall, a one-sided drumming as it should be when you play a joke team like Detroit. Win 7-0.

Game 3 – On the precipice of a potential winning streak the Rangers of course fell apart in grotesque fashion; like the episode of King of the Hill where Peggy enters a beauty contest. Taylor Hearn started and got shelled. 3.2 IP, 8 ER against the worst offense in the AL. The bleeding did not stop, and John King hilariously waited until this disaster game to pitch well. He threw 2 scoreless once the Rangers were at an insurmountable disadvantage and Charlie Culberson should have been out there throwing his knucksie. Loss 14-7.

Game 4 – Kole Calhoun went 0-4 in the middle of the lineup. The Tigers held a ceremony for Prince Fielder’s dad, Cecil Fielder, at the beginning of the game. Naturally anything related to a Fielder would be an ominous omen for the Rangers. Dane Dunning gave up a 3 run bomb 15 minutes into this affair. If you turned the game off after this, you did not miss anything. Garcia and company tied the game briefly in the 5th before Dennis Satana gave up a huge hit. The hit made it 5-3 Tigers. The Rangers looked checked out after this. Loss 7-3

Even though the Rangers split the series against the White Sox, they squandered countless opportunities. They continue to fall back into the rut of mediocrity. Eli White, the versatile speed flea, will be out for 6-8 weeks. The Rangers are no longer a joke team like they were last year. They play teams close frequently and could probably go .500 if they would actually win some of these statement games.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
6/21 – vs Philadelphia – 7:05 p.m.
6/22 – vs Philadelphia – 3:05 p.m.
6/24 – vs Washington – 7:05 p.m.
6/25 – vs Washington – 3:05 p.m.
6/26 – vs Washington – 1:35 p.m.