The Rangers, having lost 10 of their last 11 games, opened the second half of the season with a 6-2 victory over the Dodgers on Friday night at Globe Life Field.
“We are a second-half team, guys, I don’t know what to tell you,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.
The Dodgers entered the game with the best record in baseball. Yet the Rangers were able to put together their most complete victory as far as pitching, hitting and defense go.
“Good pitching; overall, we played good defense, really good at-bats,” Woodward said.”That’s a tough pitching staff, good quality at-bats and we fought back. Overall, it was a really good team effort, something that we needed.”
Short-handed offense delivers clutch hits
The Rangers placed Danny Santana on the injured list before the game with a sprained right elbow. Woodward said Santana’s elbow took a turn for the worse this week and he may not be able to play the field again this season. He joins Elvis Andrus and Willie Calhoun on the injured list. The Rangers were also without Rougned Odor for a third straight game as he deals with a right eye infection.
“I know people are wondering what we are going to do without them,” designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo said. “The lineup looks totally different. We still have a month left. We still have the bench players, a lot of talented young players. Great example today, these guys can play.”
Derek Dietrich broke a 2-2 tie with a leadoff home run in the seventh inning, igniting a four-run rally. The Rangers also delivered with runners in scoring position, going 4-for-10 in such situations on Friday night after hitting .215 in them through 30 games.
This marked the first time the Rangers had at least four hits with runners in scoring position in a game this season. The Rangers were 27-8 last season when getting at least four hits with runners in scoring position in a game.
Minor shows his stuff before Deadline
Starter Mike Minor pitched six scoreless innings in his last start before Monday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline. Minor can be a free agent after the season and hasn’t exactly driven up his value through the first month of the season.
But this was six scoreless against a team that could even be considered the World Series favorites come October.
“I obviously will take it,” Minor said. “I didn’t think I threw that well. I kept them off-balance, made some pitches with guys on. I obviously could still get better.”
He allowed four hits and three walks while striking out six. The Dodgers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position off Minor.
Minor had the changeup and slider working, but also an effective fastball. The Dodgers were 1-for-8 with three strikeouts off the fastball and a swing-and-miss on five of 12 fastball strikes. That’s a 41.7 percent whiff rate, compared to 16.5 percent on the season coming into the game.
“It was probably more so keeping them off-balance,” Minor said. “They were probably looking for something else and we threw the fastball. Probably just surprised them.”
Taveras’ big inning
Rangers rookie center fielder Leody Taveras came up big on both sides in the third inning. It was his defense in the top of the frame when he reached up above the left-center-field wall and took a potential three-run home run away from Justin Turner.
“I thought I got it in on [Turner] and it wasn't going to go that far,” Minor said. “The next thing I know, I saw [Taveras] jumping up at the wall to catch it. I don't know if he robbed it or whatever, but it was definitely a good play. He's really athletic. He belongs here. I'm glad to have him on our team and them giving him a shot to start and play every day.”
In the bottom of the inning, Taveras reached with one out on a slow ground ball to second baseman Enrique Hernández. Taveras then swiped second, just beating a strong throw from catcher Will Smith for his first career stolen base. Choo brought him home with a double and he scored on Nick Solak’s single.