SAN DIEGO -- The 2018 season hasn't gone the way anyone on the Rangers hoped, but it especially hasn't gone the way Yohander Mendez planned.Nearly three months after Mendez's demotion to the Minors, the 23-year-old is proving, start by start, that he's learned his lesson and is ready to stay.After
SAN DIEGO -- The 2018 season hasn't gone the way anyone on the Rangers hoped, but it especially hasn't gone the way Yohander Mendez planned.
Nearly three months after Mendez's demotion to the Minors, the 23-year-old is proving, start by start, that he's learned his lesson and is ready to stay.
After Connor Sadzeck pitched the first inning as an "opener" on Friday night -- making his first big league start -- Mendez toed the rubber in the second inning and kept the Padres' hitters off balance en route to a 4-0 victory at Petco Park. Mendez scattered three hits through five scoreless innings, walked three and struck out five while picking up his second win in his three games since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.
It's a positive sign for Mendez, who is regarded as one of Texas' top candidates for a starting spot next season. The Rangers had hoped to see much more of him this season and recalled him on June 15 to start in place of Matt Moore, but an incident in Kansas City during a team road trip resulted in Mendez being demoted to Class A Advanced for a violation of team rules.
Mendez insists he's reformed, and his numbers since rejoining the team earlier in the month back up that statement. Mendez has notched 15 innings in three games and has been tagged for two earned runs -- good enough for a 1.20 ERA.
"The biggest thing about Mendez is that we know the stuff he has," manager Jeff Banister said. "We know that he can pitch. The attitude that he's come back with is that he's a very dedicated and focused guy, right now."
Mendez's focus was exemplified in the sixth inning, when he faced Eric Hosmer for the third time with two runners on and two out. Mendez worked Hosmer to a full count and got him to chase on an 85 mph changeup for strike three to end the threat.
"That was my last hitter," Mendez said. "I wanted to strike him out or get a ground ball early. Once I got to a 3-2 count, I threw lighter and threw my best pitch."
"That was a huge moment in the sixth, that at-bat against Hosmer," Banister added. "He set that entire at-bat up. Two hard fastballs on Hosmer, got him looking in and preserved the changeup. He threw a great changeup to get him out."
Still the highlight of the night belonged to Adrian Beltre, who doubled in the sixth and ninth innings for his 3,154th and 3,155th career hits, moving ahead of George Brett into 15th place on baseball's all-time hits list. With his ninth-inning double, Beltre also now has the most hits all-time of any player who's primary position was third base.
"Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I'm able to do something even close to what those guys have," Beltre said. "It hasn't sunk in yet."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Profar propels offense: After compiling one run total in their last two games, the Rangers' offense sprung to life -- mostly at the hands of Jurickson Profar.
Profar highlighted a 3-for-4 night with a booming two-run homer in the seventh inning for his 17th round-tripper of the season. After Beltre led off the inning with a double, Profar wasted no time against reliever Phil Maton and sent the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence. Profar recorded three RBIs and two runs scored and has eight RBIs in his last 13 games.
HE SAID IT
"I think he understands that every one of these situations is a privilege to be able to pitch here. You have to take care of yourself and you have to prepare. You win baseball games with your stuff but you have to prepare for your opportunity. I think that's the thing that he's taken away from this - that you can't take that lightly." -- Banister, on Mendez's second chance
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rangers ran themselves out of an offensive threat, thanks in part to some quick-thinking defense by Hosmer. Delino DeShields led off the sixth inning with a double and Shin-Soo Choo followed with a chopper to Hosmer at first base. Hosmer fired to third baseman William Myers, who applied a sweep tag to nab DeShields for the fielder's choice. The Rangers challenged the call, but the call would stand.
Although much of the Rangers' offense has gone cold this road trip, Joey Gallo has been swinging a hot bat. He bashed two home runs along with seven RBIs and slashed .353/.421/.824 against the A's and Angels. He'll hope to continue that success Saturday night against San Diego left-hander Eric Lauer, especially considering Gallo's 13 home runs off lefties this season lead the American League. Alex Claudio is set to start for the Rangers as they continue deploying the "opener" strategy. First pitch is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. CT.
Katie Woo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.