Weak Finish Spoils Potential Huge Week

The Rangers will try to extend their division lead this week at home. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
The Rangers will try to extend their division lead this week at home. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs

By Mark Miller

What started as an outstanding week on the road ended up just above average for the Texas Rangers.

After winning two of three games at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the first two at the Minnesota Twins, they dropped their final two for a 4-3 week. While Texas lost two games in a row for the first time in 2013, it still ended the week 2.5 games ahead in the American League West division.

It was a combination of timely hitting and strong starting pitching by rookies Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm and second-year Ranger Yu Darvish that keyed the week’s strong start. It was a lack of hitting that proved crucial in the two ending losses.

“We’ve got a lot of ways to get [wins],” right fielder Nelson Cruz told mlb.com. “We don’t need to score that many runs. It’s been like that all year. When we need pitching, the pitching’s been there. When we need offense, the offense has been there. It shows how deep we are as a team.”

Cruz was the week’s offensive star with three home runs, 13 runs batted in and a .440 batting average (11 hits in 25 at-bats). Second baseman Ian Kinsler hit .367, shortstop Elvis Andrus .357 and first baseman Mitch Moreland .345.

Darvish pitched a shutout for his six innings in an 11-3 win over the Angels. Tepesch gave up one run in 6.2 innings in the opener with the Twins while Grimm yielded none in seven innings in the next night’s win.

The bullpen had mixed results with Jason Frasor, Tanner Scheppers and Robby Ross giving up no runs in a combined seven innings while Michael Kirkman, Derek Lowe and Joe Ortiz yielded 10 earned runs in 7.1 innings. Closer Joe Nathan earned saves in all three chances.

Defensively the same Rangers who committed just seven errors in their first 18 games, had four last week leading to four unearned runs.

It’s a week full of Sox at home
After 10 of the last 13 games on the road, the Rangers are back home this week, first against the Chicago White Sox, then the Boston Red Sox.

“It seems like we haven’t been home in forever with the way the schedule is set up,” said Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski. “It’ll be nice to get home, get an off-day at home and relax, get away from baseball for a day. Just get back to hopefully a little bit of normalcy and come back ready to go on Tuesday.”

The White Sox entered the series against former team member Pierzynski with a 10-14 record. Injuries have hampered Chicago with second baseman Gordon Beckham, left fielder Dayan Viciedo and starting pitchers Gavin Floyd and John Danks spending time on the disabled list.

Picking up the offensive slack has been third baseman Conor Gillespie (.310 average), right fielder Alex Rios (.281, six homers, 11 RBI). On the mound, starters Jose Quintana (2-0 record, 2.78 earned run average) and Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.38) and closer Addison Reed (1-0, 1.64, eight saves in eight tries) have done their part.

The surprising Red Sox lead the major leagues with an 18-7 record with one of the biggest reasons being the addition of first baseman Mike Napoli. The former Ranger has a team-leading 27 runs batted in plus four homers while batting .280. Since returning from the disabled list April 20, designated hitter David Ortiz is hitting .526 with two homers and 11 RBI.

Clay Buchholz has been outstanding on the mound with wins in all five starts and a 1.19 ERA. Jon Lester is 4-0, 2.27. Former Ranger reliever Koji Uehara has yielded just two earned runs in 12 appearances.

Upcoming Schedule
4/30     White Sox       7:05 p.m.
5/1       White Sox       7:05 p.m.
5/2       White Sox       7:05 p.m.
5/3       Red Sox          7:05 p.m.
5/4       Red Sox          7:05 p.m.
5/5       Red Sox          2:05 p.m.