Texas Rangers: No Longer in the Cellar

Yu Darvish was shut down towards the end of last season but looks to be back on track. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
Yu Darvish looks to be back on track and the Rangers need that from their ace.
Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
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By Wiley Singleton

The Rangers week began on the road against the Oakland Athletics. The Rangers assigned Sam Dyson to take a stint on the DL after his awful performances costed them multiple games. AJ Griffin started the opening game vs his former team. Griffin was sensational, surrendering just one hit in six innings. Carlos Gomez continued to provided pop at the top of the lineup, logging two RBIs and scoring three runs. Nomar Mazara continued to impress in the middle of the order with three RBIs. The Rangers cruised to an easy 7-0 victory behind the loopy curveball of AJ Griffin.

The second game of the series featured strikeout pitcher Yu Darvish vs sidewinding rightie Andrew Triggs. Both pitchers looked elite through the first five innings. Triggs gave up RBIs to Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara, the Rangers two hottest hitters. Darvish ran into trouble in the sixth as well. He began the inning with a walk, a certain way to endanger leads against the scrappy A’s. Darvish gave up a two-run homer to former Ranger Adam Rosales. Darvish was then pulled mid inning for Tony Barnette, who surrendered an RBI to Khris Davis. The Rangers never recovered their lead and lost the game 4-2. Andrew Triggs pitched very well for the A’s. Triggs’ features an unorthodox release point and has obliterated lefties this year, holding them to .067 average. Triggs is tied for the MLB lead in wins with three.

Martin Perez started the rubber match of the series and showed why his road ERA is consistently higher than his home ERA. Perez gave up four runs in the first inning and the game was never close. The Rangers were held to just three hits. Joey Gallo’s solo home run in the 5th saved the team from a shutout.  The Rangers ultimately fell 9-1 and lost the series.

The Rangers returned home to face off against the Royals. It is worth noting that since none of the games in the A’s series were close the Rangers closer situation had not been tested. The Royals have struggled profoundly offensively, ranking dead last in runs scored. The Rangers had a golden opportunity to recover from their early season struggles. Offseason acquisition Andrew Cashner made his home debut and was electric. Cashner turned in six scoreless innings. Cashner was opposed by an equally effective Danny Duffy. Both pitchers turned in scoreless outings and let their bullpen try to hold the shutout. Up until this point in the season, the Rangers had struggled profoundly in close games. The Rangers bullpen lived up to Cashner’s start, turning in seven scoreless innings. Keone Kela was among those who contributed to the scoreless effort. Kela was returning from a trip to AAA he earned with bad attitude. The Rangers are relying on Kela to perform well in lieu of Sam Dyson.

The pitching duel was finally broken in the bottom of the 13th inning. Joey Gallo hit a double and was driven in by Delino DeShields to win the game. The 1-0 victory can be seen as a turning point in many ways. The Rangers bullpen held a close game for an extremely long time and the bottom of the order clutched the game. The Rangers took the momentum from this game and carried it through the rest of the series.

Cole Hamels took the mound in game two of the four game series. Hamels excelled against the weak Royals offense, turning in eight innings of one-run ball. Joey Gallo has improved significantly since last year. Gallo has walked much more frequently and has been able to flash his signature power more consistently. Gallo launched two homers in this game, making it the third consecutive game where he contributed a significant amount to the Rangers offensive output. Robinson Chirinos had another incredible offensive day, logging two homers like Gallo. The Rangers cruised to a 6-2 win.

Nick Martinez started for the Rangers and was matched against Ian Kennedy. Both were very good. Both pitched seven innings, gave up one run, struck out three, and gave up four hits. Again, the Rangers bullpen was tasked with holding a tied game. Alex Claudio turned in a scoreless 8th and Matt Bush a scoreless 9th. Elvis Andrus continued to be one of the best hitters on the team, driving in Rougie Odor to win the game in the bottom of the 9th. Mazara had cooled off by this point, having been hitless for the past several games. The Rangers won another close game in which the bullpen had to hold for multiple innings.

The fourth and final game of the series was a matchup between Yu Darvish and Jason Hammel. Darvish had particularly filthy stuff and threw many nasty curveballs. The Royals batters looked befuddled in every inning but the 3rd, when they hit back-to-back solo homers. Darvish threw an incredibly high amount of strikes and was able to work through the 8th inning. Darvish working through the 8th is significant because it shows he is continuing to improve since his surgery. Mazara broke his hitless streak and managed two hits. Gallo and Chirinos both homered in the same game again. The Rangers chased Hammel after three innings and Matt Bush closed the game without issue, earning his first save of the year. Darvish pitching into the 8th was a welcome sight to many who thought he should have been allowed to finish the 6th inning in Oakland.

The Rangers began the week with serious bullpen issues and ended the week with a four-game sweep. Joey Gallo continues to hit for power and play excellent defense. His average is deceptively low, he walks frequently.  Elvis Andrus continues to play great defense and hit exceptionally well. The Rangers face off against the Twins and Angels this week at home.

Upcoming Schedule –  All Times Central
4/24   vs Twins          7:05 p.m.
4/25   vs Twins          7:05 p.m.
4/26   vs Twins          7:05 p.m.
4/28   vs Angels         7:05 p.m.
4/29   vs Angels         6:15 p.m.
4/30   vs Angels         2:05 p.m.