The Texas Rangers had a monster night at the plate Monday, sending four balls over the fence and scoring 14 total runs in a smashing victory over the first-place Oakland Athletics. Fans should take this with a grain of salt, though; Oakland’s eight runs proved the pitching was not entirely in sync. With two more games to play against the Athletics and three in LA to face the second-place Angels, the 35-35 Rangers are not out of the woods just yet.
Donnie Murphy was the hero of the game, taking over first base for the night in the absence of the injured Mitch Moreland. Murphy had two hits on four at-bats, knocking both sky-high for his third and fourth home runs of the season. A versatile player, he also managed a second-inning sacrifice bunt that led to the Rangers’ first two scores.
On defense, Murphy looked comfortable at an unfamiliar position, snagging a wild throw from Adrian Beltre to get the final out of the sixth inning.
Robinson Chirinos went three-for-five for the night, putting up a solo home run in the sixth and batting in two other runs to extend Texas’ lead. The fourth home run was credited to Michael Choice in the fifth inning. It was his only hit of the game, but resulted in two additional runs for the team.
Four other Rangers had multiple hits for the night, and Beltre came up big with a two-out double in the fourth to score two runs. He also scored Elvis Andrus on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Colby Lewis earned the win, despite allowing five runs on 10 hits in just over five innings. He only had two strikeouts and threw three walks, and Manager Ron Washington replaced him in the sixth inning. The Rangers bullpen did not fare much better, and Texas was forced to spend six pitchers on the game, which Washington later admitted disappointed him. Robbie Ross, Jr., and Shawn Tolleson allowed three more runs on three hits, including a two-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes.
The pitching was not all bad, though. Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor combined for almost two full hitless innings in the seventh and eighth, and Ben Rowen allowed just two hits and no runs in the ninth to close out the game. Hopefully Texas will not need much bullpen support on Tuesday night, as they used several of their relievers to stifle Oakland’s attempted rally in the sixth inning. The lack of support from the relievers showed that the Rangers truly are not out of the woods yet, and need to make some adjustments if they want to fight their way back into consideration.
The five starting pitchers are averaging just under four earned runs for the season, with Lewis bringing up the rear at 5.97 over 12 starts. They have mostly been lights-out over the last six games, however, averaging around 2.5, with Yu Darvish and Nick Tepesch allowing none in each of their last starts. Lewis is again in last with 6.97, but has recorded two starts to the others’ one.
The bullpen, on the other hand, is averaging 7.4 earned runs over the last six games, mostly thanks to Ross allowing five runs over just one-and-a-third innings in his two appearances. Texas’ pitching depth is not what they planned for it to be early in the season, and it really shows late in a game when an opponent is allowed to almost come back from an eight-run deficit.
Texas will need to shore up their weak link—which seems to appear around the fifth or sixth inning—if they want to be competitive in the American League West. As it stands, the Rangers are not out of the woods yet, and how they perform in the final two games of the series in Oakland will set the tone for the rest of the road trip.
Commentary by Christina Jones
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Texas Rangers
Follow Christina’s Coverage in the Rangers Roundup