The Texas Rangers are back on the road again—which is a good thing considering how poorly they’ve been playing at home—and are hoping to find redemption for their little downward spiral over the past week. Their chance began in Seattle Friday night on a 10-day trip to play each of the top contenders in the AL West, as Texas tries to improve on their .500 record and fourth place rank.
The Rangers managed to end their abysmal home stand on a high note with a 1-0 win over the Miami Marlins, a game that also served as Yu Darvish’s first career complete game shutout. Texas split the two-game series with Miami after losing two of three to both the Indians and the Orioles.
Nick Tepesch, Shawn Tolleson, and Joakim Soria combined for just two hits on Friday night, shutting out the Mariners, while the offense had four hits on 29 at-bats, with Adrian Beltre sending Elvis Andrus across the plate to score the only run of the evening for either team. Andrus had two consecutive steals to gain third base just in time for Beltre to hit a fielder’s choice grounder that allowed Elvis to run home.
The Rangers batted only .223 in their last seven games before Saturday, scoring 21 runs—an average of only three runs per game—while the defense allowed 30 combined runs to opponents. That seems to be the name of the game for Texas, as the team has been unable to find a rhythm that both sides of the field can follow. When the pitchers throw a good game, the batters are unable to get on base. When the offense finds a groove, the defense allows multiple runs. The two sides cannot seem to be “on” during the same game, leaving the players frustrated and discouraged.
The back-to-back shutouts seemed to boost the Rangers confidence, though, and they carried that into a 4-3 win over Seattle Saturday night, finding a little redemption on their road trip and tying the Mariners at 34-34 for the season. The toe-to-toe battle saw Joe Saunders and the bullpen hold the Mariners to three runs, battling their way out of several difficult situations, including a bases-loaded fifth inning that Saunders successfully navigated.
Texas plated three in the sixth inning; Beltre doubled to send Shin-Soo Choo home and Robinson Chirinos followed with a home run that put Beltre across the plate. Elvis Andrus attempted to steal second base in the seventh, but was caught between first and second and initially called out as he dove back to the first base bag. The play was reviewed by the officials and overturned, but Andrus was left stranded on the next at-bat, as Choo hit a fly ball to left field.
The tie held through two-thirds of the ninth inning, but then Leonys Martin hit a hard double past Kyle Seager to score Luis Sardinas, giving Texas a 4-3 lead. Soria came in to close and did so in superb fashion, striking out the first batter, snagging a line drive for out number two, and sending the third batter’s hit sky high for Rougned Odor. Soria has allowed no earned runs in his last seven saves as a closer for the Rangers.
The victory was the third straight for Texas, who need a good win streak to fight their way back into the running in the AL West. It also put them even with the Mariners at 34-34, with a chance to sweep the series and move into third place in the division Sunday afternoon. Next week will find the Rangers in Oakland, taking on the first place Athletics and continuing their road to redemption.
Commentary by Christina Jones