TEXAS AVOIDS SWEEP
BY: Dic Humphrey
Texas avoided a sweep at the hands of the Yankees Thursday afternoon with a 10-6 victory. New York had won the first three games of the series, but was unable to complete the sweep when the Rangers prevailed in Thursday’s topsy-turvy affair. Tanner Scheppers picked up the win in relief, his first of the season. Michael Kirkman, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan shut down the Yanks in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to nail down the Ranger victory.
Derek Holland started and was solid for five innings. He walked no one and gave up one hit before the roof caved in during the sixth inning. The Rangers had built a 4-0 lead. They plated two in the first with an Adrian Beltre single, and pieced together two more in the top of the sixth with RBI’s from David Murphy and Craig Gentry. In the bottom half, Holland gave up three singles and an Andrew Jones home run as the Yankees tied the game. He should have escaped further damage, but a fielding error with two outs from Mike Olt making his Major League outfield debut sent Holland to the showers. When that run ultimately scored, the Rangers actually went to the seventh trailing 5-4.
The Rangers came back to score in each of the final three innings to secure the 10-6 win. The Rangers banged out 16 hits, with the first six in the Rangers’ batting order having multi-hit games. Beltre (3), Gentry (3) and Murphy (2) had multi-RBI games.
Texas arrived Monday, but the offense didn’t show up until Thursday’s finale as they scored just four runs in the first three games. It didn’t matter much in Monday’s opener as newly acquired Ryan Dempster gave up eight runs , all earned, in six innings. Dempster has now made three starts since the trade from Chicago. His record is 1-1, and the Rangers’ record is 2-1 in those three games, but Dempster has not pitched well. His Ranger ERA is an obscene 8.31 in17.1 innings.
Texas actually took the early lead with single runs in the first and second innings. Nelson Cruz singled home Elvis Andrus in the first inning, while Murphy homered in the second, but that proved to be the Rangers’ offense for the night.
The Yankees took the lead for good with five runs in the third, after Dempster had retired the first six Yankees. The back-breaking blow from the Rangers’ standpoint was a grand slam home run from Nick Swisher, who played Ranger killer all week. He was 5-17 with nine RBIs in the series, including at least one RBI in each game. The grand slam was Swisher’s second and the Yankees’ ninth of the season. Monday’s final score was 8-2.
On Tuesday, Matt Harrison pitched well, but the Yankees’ Hideki Kuroda pitched better. Kuroda twirled a complete game shutout in the 3-0 Yankees’ win. The Rangers never posed much of a threat as they managed just a pair of singles (Andrus and Michael Young). Two more Rangers reached base via a walk, but there were just two Rangers’ at bats in the game with a runner in scoring position.
Harrison’s record fell to 13-7, but he allowed just a single run while pitching into the seventh inning. He actually left a scoreless game, but his replacement – Alexi Ogando – gave up a pair of home runs that drove in the Yankees’ three. The performance dropped Harrison’s ERA to 3.24.
In game three on Wednesday night, Scott Feldman threw a gem. He had won six consecutive decisions before losing last Friday at home to the Tigers, but he looked to be back to his July form in New York. He struggled in the third allowing two run scoring singles and a sacrifice fly, but shut down the Yanks in the other five innings he pitched.
Texas could only answer with a pair of Josh Hamilton home runs, numbers 33 and 34 on the season. The final score was Yankees 3 – Rangers 2. Hamilton’s home run total not only ties him with Adam Dunn to lead the American League but is a new career high. He twice previously slugged 32 with the Rangers. He finished the series with 101 RBIs on the season, the third time in his career to crack the magical 100 plateau (130 in 2008 and 100 in 2010).
The Yankees and Rangers have been the two best American League teams this season. They along with Cincinnati have the three biggest leads in any division in baseball. Getting swept would have been a damning psychological blow to the Rangers, so from that standpoint, Thursday’s win was one of the biggest of the year for Texas.
The Athletics won Thursday to stay six games behind Texas. The Rangers’ “magic number”, the combination of Ranger wins and Athletics’ losses that will clinch the pennant for Texas, is 40. Los Angeles lost Thursday to fall seven games behind Texas (eight in the loss column). The magic number to eliminate the Angels is 38.
The Rangers travel on to Canada for the weekend. Manager Ron Washington said he anticipates passing around playing time to keep some of his players off the Rogers Centre Astroturf. Friday’s game is a night game at 6:07 Central and will be televised locally on Channel 21. Saturday’s and Sunday’s games begin at 12:07 (CDT), and will be shown on Fox Sports Southwest. The pitching matchups for the series are:
Friday Yu Darvish (12-78, 4.54) vs. J. A. Happ (8-10, 5.04)
Saturday Ryan Dempster (6-6, 3.12) vs. Carlos Villanueva (6-3, 3.12)
Sunday Matt Harrison (13-7, 3.24) vs. Henderson Alvarez (7-10, 4.48)
- Thursday’s win was Tanner Scheppers’ first in the Major Leagues, and he became the 16th pitcher to win a game for Texas this season.
- With Thursday’s win, the Rangers are 18-11 in day games (.621 winning percentage); 12-8 (.600) in road day games.
- David Murphy joined the double-digit home run club when he homered in game one of the series. He became the seventh Ranger to hit at least 10 home runs this season.
- When Yu Darvish, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Thursday, pitches Friday evening; he’ll have the opportunity to re-set the Rangers’ rookie record for wins at 13, a record that he currently shares at 12 with three other past Ranger rookie pitchers.