The Texas Rangers move closer to winning another AL pennant as they take three of four games from the Royals
BY: Dic Humphrey
For the first time in Rangers history the team has four winning seasons in a row. Thursday night in Kansas City, the Rangers beat the Royals 5-4 in 10 innings for their 82nd win of the year. It was also the series clinching third win of four games this week, the sixth straight series win for the Rangers as they make their September pennant push. The Rangers are now 5-2 on this road trip and a season high 27 games over .500 at 82-55, the best record in Ranger history after 137 games.
Scott Feldman was the Ranger starting pitcher. He gutted out 6-1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits. He departed with a 4-3 lead, but Michael Kirkman surrendered a game tying home run to take away Feldman’s chance for a win. Tanner Scheppers, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan finished out the game with Adams (4-3) getting the win and with Nathan earning his 30th save of the year. Nathan became the fifth American League pitcher to reach 30 saves this year, and it was his 28th consecutive save conversion, a new personal high, a new 2012 A. L. high, and a new Ranger franchise record.
Included in the offensive fireworks were back-to-back home runs from Josh Hamilton, his Major League leading 39th, and Adrian Beltre, the third time on this road trip that the Rangers have gone back-to-back. An Ian Kinsler triple leading off the inning followed by Michael Young’s single plated the game winning run in the 10th.
The series started with a magnificent pitching performance from Yu Darvish, a performance that offers optimism for the playoffs. There is no question that this team sought a true top of the rotation starting pitcher in July, the type of pitcher that Cliff Lee was two years ago in the playoffs. They may have found one in August, as Darvish threw an “ace” like game on Labor Day afternoon. He completed seven innings, and six of them were perfect. The Royals had no base runners until there were two outs in the sixth inning. Darvish just missed on a 3-2 pitch to walk Johnny Giovotella giving Kansas City their first base runner of the game. A single, double and triple followed, as the Royals ended the no-hitter and shutout by plating three runs. Darvish however came back to pitch a perfect seventh.
One of the problems with Darvish has been too many walks. Monday, he gave up just one, and he has now given up no more than two in any of his last four starts. The other disturbing trend for Darvish has been early struggles. Monday, he was strong from the beginning.
The win improved his record to 14-9, re-setting the Ranger record for most wins by a rookie, and lowered his ERA to 4.29.
Offensively, the Rangers gave Darvish eight runs of support, all of which scored on five home runs. Included in the fireworks that produced the 8-4 win were back-to-back home runs from Beltre and Nelson Cruz.
In game two, Texas struck early for a 2-0 lead, including a solo home run from Elvis Andrus. Kansas City tied the game with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth, and Matt Harrison was unable to complete the fifth as the Royals rallied to take a 5-2 lead, a lead they never relinquished, as they won 6-3.
The loss dropped Harrison’s record to 15-9, and his ERA increased only slightly to 3.37, still very respectable.
Texas came back to win game three 7-6. Ryan Dempster started and won his fifth game since joining the Rangers. He went six innings, allowing two earned runs for a quality start, which reduced his ERA with the Rangers to 4.36. Dempster’s overall record is 10-6, 2.87, and Texas is 6-1 in his starts since being acquired from the Cubs.
After Dempster departed, Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan pitched an inning apiece to complete the game. Adams and Nathan allowed a run; Ogando two. Nathan did earn his 29th save.
Texas grew their lead in the West to 5.5 games (five in the loss column) by winning three of four, as the Angels swept Oakland in a three-game set to start the week. The Angels are eight games back. This may or may not be good news for Ranger fans. The sweep of the A’s may have awakened the sleeping giant in Anaheim, as the Angels have now won eight of nine. The magic numbers are now 21 over the Athletics and 18 over the Angels. Those magic numbers will be reduced by four in some fashion as the A’s and Angels face each other four more times this season.
Texas next travels to north Florida to face the Rays in St. Petersburg this weekend. The Rays and Rangers are tied at 3-3 for the season series, with all six of those games played in Arlington. This will be the first time for Texas to play at Tropicana Field this year. The Rays are in a hotly contested race with the Yankees and Orioles for the East Division championship, which are playing head-to-head this weekend. Tampa had Thursday off, while the Rangers played Thursday night in Kansas City before flying overnight to arrive in Florida in the wee hours of the morning. The pitching matchups for the series are:
Friday Derek Holland (10-6, 4.79) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (8-10, 3.41)
Saturday Yu Darvish (14-9, 4.29) vs. David Price (17-5, 2.54)
Sunday Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37) vs. James Shields (13-8, 3.88)
- David Murphy finally had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title after last Sunday’s game, and woke up Monday morning ranked third in the American League with a .322 batting average. His average however was down to .316 by the end of the series.
- Adrian Beltre’s home run Thursday was his 30th of the year. It’s his second consecutive year to reach 30, and the third time in his career.
Josh Hamilton has three home runs in his last five games and four in his last eight. His league leading RBI total is up to 116.