The last time Cole Hamels threw the last pitch of a ballgame, he was surrounded immediately thereafter by his teammates, who flung water and powerade at him and jumped around in a human ant-pile to celebrate the clinching of the 2015 AL West division title.
Tonight, he got a low-five from Robinson Chirinos.
Hamels required just 96 pitches to complete the 4-1 victory against the Twins, who–with Miguel Sano on the bench after last night’s plunking and Joe Mauer hitting just .229 against lefties this season–trotted out a lineup that featured former Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez in the cleanup spot. But a big-league lineup is still a big-league lineup. The Rangers’ 2017 season should serve as a reminder that anything can happen on any day in baseball. And sometimes for many days in a row.
Most of the scoring in this one happened very early. In the second inning, with Elvis Andrus on first base after an infield single, Nomar Mazara continued his recent heat-up, hitting a ball that eluded both left fielder Eddie Rosario and reliever Jose Leclerc as it cleared the wall and bounced in and out of the Rangers’ bullpen for a two-run home run.
That would have been enough, with the way Hamels was stone-faced waltzing over and through the Twins’ lineup. But Texas added another run in the second, when Mike Napoli walked and eventually scored on a Robinson Chirinos sac fly, and one final insurance run in the ninth when Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch, stole second base, and scored on a Chirinos smash that split the difference between third baseman Eduardo Escobar and the foul line nearest him.
A half-inning later, the ballgame was over, Hamels having allowed just one run, which came in the fifth inning. Byron Buxton blooped an opposite-field single, then stole second base, advancing to third when Chirinos’ throw sailed into center field. Buxton scored two pitches later when Ehire Adrianza grounded out to first base.
But Hamels recovered to continue his efficient and graceful evening. By the time Escobar grounded out to end the game, Hamels had allowed just 4 hits and a walk. Due to the throwing error, the one run was unearned, and he struck out five.
The Rangers will try to wrap up the series win on Sunday afternoon when Nick Martinez faces Jose Berrios.
Jake Diekman threw a live bullpen session today, throwing pitches to Mike Napoli, Drew Robinson, and Ryan Rua. He threw 31 pitches, and joked afterwards that his arm felt like it weighed fifty pounds. He hopes to head out on a rehab assignment soon, but the team has not yet announced what the next step will be.
The Rangers traded minor leaguer Brallan Perez to the Orioles for $500,000 towards their international free agent spending cap. The thought is that this is part of a push to try to sign Shohei Otani (this is pure speculation, of course. No team official would ever confirm that at this stage).
Speaking of… The Rangers took out a full-page ad in Darvish’s hometown to thank him for his time in a Ranger uniform.
Carlos Gomez’ stolen base in the ninth inning was the 250th of his career.
The Rangers have announced their starters for the Tuesday/Wednesday series against the Mets in New York. Andrew Cashner will start Tuesday and A.J. Griffin will go on Wednesday.