The Texas Rangers Dismiss the Colorado Rockies Sunday Evening
BY: Dic Humphrey
Texas wrapped up another series win Sunday evening, beating Colorado 4-2 to take two of three in the series. It was the fifth straight series win for the Rangers all against National League opponents. It was the final inter-league series of the year, and Texas finished with a Major League best 14-4 record against the National Leaguers. The win maintained the Rangers five game lead in the West over the Angels, who also won Sunday afternoon.
Matt Harrison started Sunday, completed five shutouts and left with lower back stiffness having qualified for the win, his 10th against three losses. He didn’t have his best stuff and perhaps not even good stuff Sunday. The Rockies put a base runner on each of his five innings, as he walked three and gave up five hits, a total of eight base runners. He was bailed out however by five strikeouts and three double plays that accounted for 11 of the 15 outs he recorded.
After the game, manager Ron Washington told the media that Harrison wanted to stay in the game, but that he never considered leaving Harrison in. He assured the media though that Harrison would be making his next scheduled start on Friday.
Offensively, Leonys Martin got his second start of the season and enjoyed his best night in the Majors. He played a part in all four runs doubling home Nelson Cruz in the second for the first run of the game, and later scoring on Elvis Andrus’s double. It was Martin’s first Major League RBI. An inning later, he tripled with two runners aboard to run the Ranger run total to four.
There were certainly a multitude of other scoring opportunities for Texas as they ended up leaving 11 runners on base, but they converted no more. On the other side of the ball, Robbie Ross relieved Harrison in the sixth and scrambled to keep the Rocks off the board. He gave up two hits and a walk, but zero runs in a 24 pitch inning. Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams pitched the seventh and eighth innings. Each gave up a hit, but both turned in a zero on the scoreboard.
That set the stage for Joe Nathan in the ninth in a non-save situation with a 4-0 lead. Nathan had one of his worst outings of the year. He walked a batter, only the third of the year and the first since May 10. He also gave up two hits and hit a batter. He threw more than 25 pitches before recording an out, and two of the base runners scored before he recorded the final out. After nine innings though, the Rangers record was 45-28, best in the Majors and a season high 17 games over .500.
The highlight of the series was Friday’s opener, the much-anticipated debut of Roy Oswalt in a Ranger uniform. He not only didn’t disappoint, he dazzled. He threw 6-2/3rds innings of one run ball, walking just one and striking out seven. A startling 74% of his 110 pitches were strikes. It was a marvelous performance, and there is every expectation that he’ll get better, as Friday’s outing was his fifth start of the year, effectively the end of spring training in the course of the normal preparation for a season.
The Rangers staked Oswalt to an early lead with two runs in the first. Three innings later, they added two more. That was all the offense for the night, but with Oswalt, and the reliever triumvirate of Robbie Ross, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan, four runs was more than enough. 4-1 was the final score; as Nathan nailed down the win with his 16th save of the year.
Game two on Saturday was one of those clunkers that occasionally happen in the course of the season to good and bad teams alike. Colby Lewis, historically good in inter-league games, simply didn’t have it. He gave up eight runs in four innings. The defense was ratty too. Surprisingly, just one of those runs was unearned. Michael Kirkman relieved and faced just three hitters before the Rockies increased their lead to 11-0, as he gave up a double and a pair of home runs in that order.
It was a shame that Kirkman couldn’t keep the score closer. The Rangers’ offense came to life later in the game, sparked by a pair of Nelson Cruz home runs. It was Cruz’s ninth career multi-home run game. Texas came back with seven runs, four of which were driven in by Cruz’s long balls. In the end though, Colorado won 11-7 bringing an end to the Rangers seven game winning streak.
The weekend was a bad one on the field for Josh Hamilton. He struck out eight times in the series, including four (the Golden Sombrero) in Saturday’s game. He was the American League Player of the Month in April and again in May, but June has not been kind. For the month, he is hitting .205 with one home run and seven RBIs.
Texas hopefully will play one more series against a National League opponent this year. To make that happen, they will need to qualify for the playoffs and win two playoff series to reach the World Series against a NL team. For now, they will open a three game set with Detroit Monday night in Arlington. The pitching matchups are:
Monday Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95) vs. Justin Grimm (1-0, 4.50)
Tuesday TBA vs. Yu Darvish (9-4, 3.45)
Wednesday Doug Fister (1-4, 2.72) vs. Roy Oswalt (1-0, 1.35)
- Matt Harrison’s 10th win tied him for the league lead, a tie that lasted about 90 minutes, as CC Sabathia beat the Mets to win his 11th game later Sunday evening. The Rays’ David Price also won his 10th game Sunday afternoon.
The Friday and Sunday games were official sellouts bringing the sellout total to 22 in 39 home dates. 22 is a new club record, surpassing 21 in 1994, the year The Ballpark In Arlington opened. Sunday’s gate also ran the season total over the 1.5 million mark, the fewest home dates in Ranger history to reach 1.5 million.