The Texas Rangers finally won a series over the weekend. More importantly, they looked like the team we were used to seeing prior to their prolonged skid.
Of course, that doesn’t speak to the dodgy route they took to Saturday night’s 7-4 win. More on that later. But if you’re a member of the Texas Rangers, part of their front office, or simply a fan, there’s plenty to take away from the way they went about their business against the Royals.
It didn’t begin well on Friday night. Starter Yu Darvish gave up a run in each of his first three innings to put the team in an early hole. The Rangers countered with a run in the top half of the fourth, but it would ultimately be all the offense could muster in a 3-1 loss.
On paper, that loss simply seemed like another lackluster effort in a month full of them. If you watched the game, though, the eyeball test suggested something different. Once Darvish settled in, he started to display some of the dominance he is capable of at full health. Despite giving up a home run, he also struck out eleven Royals while only walking one. His six-inning, ninety-one pitch performance got stronger as the game wore on.
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Saturday’s game featured staff ace Cole Hamels on the mound. After giving up a run in a bottom of the first, Hamels proceeded to stymie the Royals’ lineup for the duration of his outing, further emphasizing his role as the stopper in the beleaguered Texas Rangers’ rotation. The offense sprung to life with a four-run seventh, ostensibly putting the contest out of reach.
Reliever Shawn Tolleson was called upon to pitch the bottom of the ninth with a 7-1 lead. All he did was come in and throw ten balls on fourteen pitches while giving up three hits and three earned runs. This gave Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister no choice but to turn to closer Sam Dyson to try and stem the tide. Dyson gave up a hit and two walks.
By that time, the score was 7-4, and the Royals had the bases loaded with only one out. Miraculously, Dyson was able to induce a ground ball to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was then able to initiate the 6-4-3 double play to put a merciful end to what should have been an easy win.
The struggle to put the Royals away further underscored the Texas Rangers’ pitching woes in the month of July. Yes, the end result is what matters, and a win is a win. But from the front office on down, if you watch this team every day, it’s almost certain that moves will be made before the trade deadline to bolster both the bullpen and the starting rotation.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks involving the Rangers’ pursuit of Yankee reliever Andrew Miller. The Rangers’ organization has also been bandied about more recently in regards to White Sox ace and throwback uniform cutter Chris Sale. Both would come at a high premium, and would likely cost them players such as minor leaguers Joey Gallo or Lewis Brinson. Some rumors have also suggested that infielder Jurickson Profar is on his way out of town.
To the Rangers’ credit, they did come back and displayed a lot of grit on a scorching Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Starter AJ Griffin–this year’s version of Yovani Gallardo–put in his customary laborious five innings. He did only allow a solo home run to Royals’ first baseman Kendrys Morales, but left the game with his team down 1-0. The Rangers managed to tie the game with a run in the sixth, and would take a 2-1 lead on the strength of a solo home run from outfielder Delino DeShields in the seventh.
The DeShields homer would stand up as the final margin of victory. Dyson was called upon again to close things out in the ninth, and while he wasn’t entirely solid, he was plenty good enough to seal the deal and ensure that the Texas Rangers would exit Kansas City with a much needed series win.
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The end result from the weekend series is encouraging. The hope is that the Texas Rangers have found a little something in their game that will enable them to put July behind them and focus on the last two months of the season. But the long term success of this team hinges upon the moves that will no doubt be made as the trade deadline approaches.