Sweeps week at home comes to a fitting end
What a home stand.
What a team.
The Texas Rangers won their 9th straight ball game Thursday afternoon 8-4 over the Phillies. The Rangers fell behind early, but once again found a way to break through. One of the fun parts about this streak has been the unique ways in which the Rangers have come back from deficits. There were several games in a row in which the Rangers were ineffective against the opposing teams starter but were able to put runs together late against that teams bullpen. Today the Rangers used a different approach. They weren’t exceptionally effective against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta but they were patient and made him work hard for everything that he got.
This strategy was effective as Pivetta entered the 5th inning having thrown over 90 pitches and was pulled with 2 outs in the same inning having thrown 107 pitches. While Pivetta gave up just 3 hits, the increasingly patient Rangers worked him over for four walks which contributed to his high pitch count. Once Pivetta was removed, the Rangers offense came alive and here’s how it happened.
Entering the 5th inning, the Rangers were trailing 2-0 and it didn’t appear they were going to get anything done as Pivetta recorded two strike-outs sandwiched around a Shin-Soo Choo walk. It was at the point that Pivetta was removed and Joely Rodriguez came on to pitch. It was a perfect set up for the Phillies. Rodriguez a lefty, pitching to Nomar Mazara who is also a lefty. Keep in mind; Rodriguez entered the game today having given up just 2 earned runs in his previous 14.2 innings. Well, that streak ended today.
Rodriguez walked Nomar Mazara on 7 pitches. It was a great at-bat for Nomar and really set the tone for the rest of the inning. Robinson Chirinos followed the Mazara walk with a run scoring bloop single down the right field line and just like that, the Rangers had cut the lead in half. Rougned Odor was next and after working the count to 3-0 he went the other way with a pitch and looped it down the left field line for a run scoring single to tie the game. Ryan Rua’s turn was next and all he did was hit a line drive shot to right field that just cleared the fence and all of the sudden, the Rangers had a 5-2 lead. All of that, with two outs.
The Rangers weren’t done however as they carried their hit party on into the 6th inning. The Phillies decided that Rodriguez hadn’t taken enough of a beating in his 0.1 innings of work so they decided to send him back to the party as well. That didn’t last long. Elvis Andrus had a run scoring double that was followed by a Nomar Mazara 2 run single and Rodriguez’s day was done. It was a tough day for Rodriguez who gave up 7 earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched.
Aside from the Rangers offensive onslaught in the middle innings, the story today was really about Martin Perez. He was fantastic so we are going to talk about it.
Pitching: Martin Perez was awesome Jeffress not so much
Martin Perez gave the Rangers a great start on Thursday afternoon. His final line was 7 innings pitched 2 runs, 5 hits, 8 k’s and 0 walks. There are a few significant things to point out about that stat line. The 8 strike outs for Perez tied a career high for him, a feat he has now accomplished 4 times. According to Jared Sandler of 105.3 the fan, this outing marked just the second time in Perez’s career that he pitched 6 or more innings with 6 or more strike-outs and 0 walks. Perez essentially challenged the Phillies to beat him and he went after them all day. The problem for the Phillies was that he was just better than them. Kudos to you Martin.
Alex Claudio pitched a perfect 8th inning as he continues to rebound from a couple of rough outings and then came really the only sore spot of the afternoon. Jeremy Jeffress took over in the 9th inning and proceeded to allow 2 runs on 3 hits including a home run. He was replaced with one out in the 9th inning and the Rangers were forced to bring in Matt Bush in order to close the game out. Ideally you don’t want to bring in your closer when you are leading 8-2 to begin the 9th inning, but in the end it is water under the bridge. Bush got the job done and the Rangers completed their second sweep in a row.
Hitting: All around good with a little bad mixed in
- Nomar Mazara continues to head in the right direction and had another excellent game with an opposite field double and a huge 2 run single in the bottom of the 6th Mazara also drew the walk in the 5th inning that started the Rangers 5-run rally.
- Shin-Soo Choo had another good game since returning from his minor back ailment. Choo reached base 3 times with a single, 2 walks and 2 runs scored as well.
- Ryan Rua, made the most of his start and had the hit of the game with his 3-run home run in the 5th Rua also added a single and two walks.
- Overall the Rangers as a team walked 7 times on Thursday afternoon. A big part of this winning streak for the Rangers has been the patience they have shown at the plate. This puts pressure on opposing pitchers and allows the team to get to the bullpen sooner.
- Joey Gallo has had a rough go of late and had another hitless day today dropping his average down to .187. Gallo does continue to walk however and he added another one today. Because of this his OBP is still okay at .306.
- Delino Deshields also had a rough go of it today although he came into the game on quite a hot streak. Delino struck out 3 times and did not record a hit. Deshields also had a rough moment in left field in the 9th. With one out, he had a bead on a fly ball into the corner and caught it in his glove as he went into a slide. The ball popped out however and went for a double. Although it didn’t go for an error, there have been several similar plays that were very makeable that Delino simply hasn’t made.
The Rangers hit the road now for yet another 3 city road trip. The first stop will be in Detroit and then things get much tougher for the Rangers as they will head Boston to face the Red Sox May 23rd-25th.