The Texas Rangers said hello to the win column Wednesday after a one-run win over the Minnesota Twins during their 11-game road trip. Texas dominated in Minnesota with three wins and one loss, after treating the Detroit Tigers to 9-2, 12-2, and 12-4 defeats. Texas did drop one game to Detroit, 7-2, but ultimately came out on top in the series. The Rangers sit in third place in the American League West Division with an overall 28-26 record.
The Rangers have been plagued by injuries all season, but the worst news came on Tuesday, when major off-season acquisition Prince Fielder underwent season-ending neck surgery. Explosive prospect Jurickson Profar, who was key to the Fielder-Kinsler trade, suffered a major setback in his shoulder rehabilitation and could be out for the remainder of the season as well. Derek Holland and Geovany Soto, two staples in last season’s lineup, have yet to play this year.
The Rangers have not given up yet, though. Shifts in the lineup and major pick-ups from Triple-A have paid off for Texas, with rookies Rougned Odor and Chris Gimenez hitting .275 and .429, while called-up pitcher Nick Martinez has a 2.70 earned run average over seven starts. Martinez also pulled off an unexpected win against Detroit Tigers ace Rick Porcello, allowing only two runs while the Rangers offense put 12 runners across home plate.
Alex Rios has 15 runs and 17 RBIs on 34 hits over the past month. Ace pitcher Yu Darvish was thought to be a scratch due to stiffness in his neck, but after a clean MRI, he is back in the lineup for the three-game series with the Nationals. After a successful bout in rehab, Joe Saunders returned to the rotation Wednesday and threw five scoreless innings against the Twins. Nick Tepesch has seen recent improvement, allowing only three hits on 17 at-bats against the Tigers’ second and third times through the rotation. The second and third times through have been a struggle for Tepesch in the past, with opponents last year hitting .343 against him in those slots.
Jon Daniels will have major decisions to make in the two months left before the trade deadline, as many of his potential high-sellers are now unavailable. Both Joakim Soria and Alex Rios are free agents after this season, thought the Rangers hold options on both for next season. Uncontested free agents for the Rangers will be Colby Lewis and Joe Saunders. The recent increase in depth of young utility infielders has some questioning the fate of Elvis Andrus, but the shortstop’s complicated eight-year, $120 million contract extension, which starts in 2015 at $15 million annually, might deter any thoughts of trades. Andrus does have the option of getting out of the contract after 2018 or 2019, though.
The most recent addition to the Rangers organization came Wednesday, when the club acquired right-handed relief pitcher Phil Irwin from the Pirates on a $20,000 waiver claim. The 27 year old has struggled with an elbow injury that required surgery in 2013, going one for two in 21 2/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis. The Rangers have assigned Irwin to Triple-A Round Rock for the present time.
The Rangers injury woes have not kept them from saying hello to the win column, and they head to Washington Friday to finish out their road trip against the Nationals. The Rangers are 6-2 so far for the trip, and hope to continue to climb further above .500 against the 25-27 Nationals.
Commentary by Christina Jones