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Rangers go to 'pen early to beat rain, Reds

Woodward's quick hook with storms approaching pays off for Texas
@Sullivan_Ranger
June 15, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Rangers pitcher Mike Minor didn’t expect to come out after just 6 1/3 innings, 98 pitches and a one-run lead, but manager Chris Woodward was playing weatherman. Storms were approaching Great American Ball Park, and he didn’t want this game against the Reds to drag out. “I didn’t

CINCINNATI -- Rangers pitcher Mike Minor didn’t expect to come out after just 6 1/3 innings, 98 pitches and a one-run lead, but manager Chris Woodward was playing weatherman. Storms were approaching Great American Ball Park, and he didn’t want this game against the Reds to drag out.

“I didn’t know how long we would be out there,” Woodward said. “They said once it started raining, it was going to get heavy, and we might not be out there that long. That’s why once it started raining, I went right to the bullpen. Normally I would leave Mike in there ... but at that point, it made sense to go to our big guns in the bullpen.”

The big guns delivered. Relievers Chris Martin, Jose Leclerc and Shawn Kelley came through with eight straight outs to close out a 4-3 victory over the Reds on Saturday. The Rangers have won two straight over the Reds, with a chance to go for a sweep on Sunday afternoon with Ariel Jurado on the mound.

Box score

“Tomorrow is a big game,” Woodward said. “To get three is a big win. It’s hard to sweep a Major League team, but we have an opportunity to do that, and we’ve got a pretty good one going for us in Ariel Jurado. We are going to come out with a ton of energy and take it to them. A lot of times you jump out 2-0 on a team in a series ... keep stepping on them and keep them out of breath. Hopefully, Jurado will give us a good one.”

The Rangers are now 4-2 on their current road trip, which ends Sunday. Their bullpen has been a big part of it, with a 2.75 ERA and 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

“We're only as good as our starters,” Kelley said. “Our guys are starting to work deep in the game. When we can shorten the game up like that, it puts us in a better position. We're relievers for a reason. We are not supposed to throw too much. They might start figuring out we are not that good.”

They were against the Reds. Martin took over in the seventh with one on and one out, getting Jose Peraza to ground into an inning-ending double play. Leclerc set the side down in order in the eighth, striking out Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez and getting Yasiel Puig on a fly to deep center. Kelley then took over for the ninth and earned his eighth save.

“I thought Woody came and got me a little early,” Minor said. “But it was nice to get the double play with Martin out there, and then Leclerc and Kelley shutting it down.”

Minor allowed three runs on four hits, a season-high four walks and six strikeouts. The Reds' runs came on home runs after the Rangers had built up a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Puig hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth, and Curt Casali made it a one-run game by going deep to lead off the seventh.

“He was great,” Woodward said. "Just two mistakes. The first three innings I thought he was going to throw a no-hitter. It was just a good matchup for that ballclub. Overall, Mike was being Mike tonight.”

The Rangers won without a home run. It’s the sixth time in their past eight games without a home run that they have ended up winning.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first after Shin-Soo Choo reached on an error by first baseman Votto. Danny Santana’s single to center moved Choo to third, and Choo scored as Elvis Andrus bounced out to third baseman Suarez. Santana moved to second on the play and scored on a two-out single by Asdrubal Cabrera.

They added two more in the fourth. Rougned Odor led off with a double and scored on a single by Jeff Mathis, who went to second on left fielder Phillip Ervin’s throwing error. Mathis scored on a single by Choo.

“We don’t have to hit the ball out of the ballpark, which is great, but we can,” Woodward said. “When you get on base, you slug, you run the bases hard, it’s a pretty good recipe for winning ballgames, especially when every opposing team is going to do the best they can to keep us in the ballpark.”

Mazara leaves game
Outfielder Nomar Mazara left Saturday’s game after six innings with tightness in his right hamstring. The Rangers said it was a precautionary measure, but Mazara is unlikely to start on Sunday.

“I felt something,” Mazara said. “I have had an issue with that knee for the past couple of weeks. I have been trying to get over that, and tonight I felt something in the back of the knee.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.