4 Rangers defy odds on mound to seal sweep

Payano, Clase, Martin and Montero show what a difference a year can make

August 5th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers beat the Tigers, 9-4 with Pedro Payano, Emmanuel Clase, and on the mound Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. That’s three rookies -- including one making his Major League debut -- and one veteran who missed all of 2018 because of injury.

One year ago, the odds of those four combining to pitch the Rangers to a victory would have been staggering. Yet there they were on Sunday, taking advantage of ’s three-run triple in the seventh, pitching the Rangers to a fourth straight win.

“That was fun to watch,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “The most impressive thing about all these guys is their demeanor on the mound. They don’t seem to be rattled. It just speaks volumes for the organization itself in preparing guys to pitch at this level.”

The back stories:

Pedro Payano
The right-hander spent seven years in the Rangers organization and couldn’t get past Double-A Frisco. He was 5-10 with a 5.54 ERA in 25 games at Frisco last season and he became a Minor League free agent.

He didn’t even find a job until signing a Minor League contract with the Rangers on Feb. 26. He wasn’t invited to big league camp. But he pitched well enough to get a shot at the big league level when the Rangers started running out of options.

He may not be considered one of the Rangers’ top prospects, but he is the one holding down a spot in the big league rotation. He allowed three runs, two earned, in 4 1/3 innings on Sunday and he has a 3.45 ERA after four outings.

“Watching Payano the times he’s pitched so far, the way he executes pitches, uses all his pitches, it’s pretty impressive,” Woodward said. “He’s become a much better pitcher than he was, and to be able to pitch big innings for us and for a winning team is even more impressive.”

Emmanuel Clase
A year ago, Clase was pitching for Class A short-season Spokane. He climbed quickly through the system this season with a fastball that can hit 100 miles per hour and he showed it on Sunday afternoon. He hit 101 mph on the second hitter he faced, the hardest pitch thrown by a Rangers pitcher this year.

“Don’t worry,” Clase said. “I have a little more.”

Clase entered the game with two on and one out in the fifth. He retired Brandon Dixon on a fly to deep right and Jeimer Candelario on a ground out to end the inning. He then pitched a scoreless sixth.

“For Clase, that was probably the worst situation possible for a first outing,” Woodward said. “First and second, one out, the game on the line. He didn’t seem bothered by it. Got out of it, came in [for a] second inning, no problems.”

Brett Martin
Woodward was hoping to stay away from Martin on Sunday after using him for two innings on Saturday night. But Martin said he could go.

“I told them I could give them an inning,” Martin said.

Martin is in his sixth season with the Rangers after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Walters State (Tenn.) Community College. Through five seasons in the Minors, he was 16-32 with a 4.88 ERA. But he has found his niche as a left-handed reliever. Martin gave up one unearned run in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday.

Rafael Montero
Montero was with the Mets for four seasons from 2014-17, but then he missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John right elbow reconstruction surgery. The Mets tried to outright him to the Minor Leagues last winter but he refused assignment and became a free agent.

The Rangers signed him and stayed patient while he finished his rehab process. He was called up two weeks ago and Sunday was his fourth appearance. He gave the Rangers 2 1/3 scoreless innings and earned his first win since Sept. 9. 2017.

“It means a lot, of course,” Montero said. “I just want to thank God for giving me a chance to pitch in the big leagues. I didn’t lose hope. Hope is the last thing you can lose.”

Montero’s work on Sunday allowed Woodward to stay away from Jose Leclerc and Jesse Chavez.

“It’s like he has no care in the world,” Woodward said. “Just goes out there and throws strikes. They had been talking about him for a while. The guys who were rehabbing him said this guy is pretty good. We got lucky having a guy like that with experience and being able to use him in the situation today. Pretty big weapon.”