A SPLIT LOOKS GOOD
BY: Dic Humphrey
Texas lost the first two games of the series to the Angels, but scrambled back to win the last two and gain a split in the series. Thursday, Ranger batters shredded Angels’ pitchers for 15 runs on 18 hits. Roy Oswalt, who started and lost the Monday opening game of the series, made his first relief appearance of the year, and was credited with the win, his fourth.
This series will be remembered for Wednesday’s improbable comeback win, which appears to have jump started Texas. There is no question that the Rangers played poorly in the first eight games of the home stand, constantly making mental mistakes. In the first two games of the Angels’ series, Los Angeles looked clearly superior. The Angels played hard, while the Rangers often looked to be loafing. The Texas offense continued to struggle, finishing July with the fewest runs per game scored in any month in 20 years.
However, with the Rangers staring at a series sweep to the Angels and with the calendar flipped to August, the Texas offense returned from the ashes. They spearheaded a comeback from two six run deficits to send Wednesday’s game into extra innings, then scored four more in the tenth to nab the win after Joe Nathan had allowed a pair of home runs in the top half.
The momentum from that game rolled into Thursday’s finale. The famous or infamous jet stream that propels right field fly balls into the stands showed up too. Half of Texas’ 18 hits were for extra bases including three home runs. In two August games, the Rangers’ offense has re-emerged to score 26 runs, almost a third of all the runs scored in July.
Thursday’s finale will also be remembered for the debut of three new Rangers. Mike Olt, one of the Rangers’ top prospects, started at first base. He singled in his first at bat and finished 1-3, getting lifted for pinch hitter Mitch Moreland in the seventh inning. Catcher Geovany Soto was 2-5, while both driving in and scoring a pair of runs.
Ryan Dempster’s Ranger and American League debut did not go so well. He didn’t complete five innings, giving up eight earned runs on nine hits, two of which were long balls. Eight runs are more than he has allowed in any game this year, and more runs than he allowed in June and July combined (eight starts).
Fortunately on Thursday, L. A. starting pitcher C. J. Wilson also gave up eight runs. The difference in the game was the bullpens. Texas knocked Angel relievers for seven runs, while the Rangers’ pen allowed just one.
The series started Monday with a 15-8 Angel win. Oswalt started and gave up eight runs. The Angels high light was a nine run sixth inning, which featured home runs from each side of the plate from Kendrys Morales. That was just the third time in history that a switch hitter had homered from each side of the plate in the same inning.
Texas lost 6-2 on Tuesday. They looked listless offensively, but Angels’ starter Jered Weaver had much to do with that. His 2.29 ERA leads the American League, and the win was his 14th, which ties Tampa’s David Price and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto for the Major League lead.
Ranger fans got a good look at the Angels’ phenom Mike Trout. Make no mistake about it; he IS a phenom – one of the most exciting players in the game. He was named the American League’s Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month for July, the first time a player has won both awards in the same month, and it was the third straight month he’s won the rookie award. He started the season in AAA and joined the Angels in late April. Despite missing the first 20 games, he leads the American League in batting average, runs scored, and stolen bases. For the series, he was 5-17. Two of the five hits were home runs. He scored eight runs and drove in six. Ranger pitchers are glad to see him leave town.
The split maintained the Rangers’ five game lead over Los Angeles (six in the loss column) and 4.5 game lead over the Athletics (five in the loss column). Thursday’s game was the last one against a West division opponent until September 14, at which time the Rangers finish the season with 19 straight games against divisional opponents. Texas finished the home stand with five wins and five losses. For the season, they have a 6-7 record against the Angels and a 19-19 record against the West. Their home record is 33-21 (.611), the best home winning percentage in the American League.
Texas moves on to Kansas City for the weekend and then to Boston next week before returning to Arlington over the weekend of August 10, 11 & 12. The start times (CDT) are 7:10 on Friday, 5:10 on Saturday and 1:10 on Sunday. The pitching matchups are:
Friday Matt Harrison (12-6, 3.19) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (3-11, 6.68)
Saturday Scott Feldman (5-6, 4.78) vs. Will Smith (2-3, 5.94)
Sunday Derek Holland (7-6, 4.96) vs. Luke Hochevar (7-9, 5.22)
- Wednesday’s walk-off win was the fourth of the season for Texas, and all four have been extra inning games.
- Texas gave up nine runs in Monday’s sixth inning, the most scored by an American League team in any game this year. It’s happened twice. The White Sox did it earlier in July in a game against Texas that was also started by Roy Oswalt.
Texas has allowed six runs or more in an inning eight times this year, and has scored six or more runs in an inning eight times. Both lead the American League.