It certainly doesn’t feel like that was the end of a winning homestand, does it? After sweeping the Royals in a four-game set to kick off the ten-game affair, the Rangers proceeded to lose two of three to the Twins, and today dropped the rubber game of a three-game set with the Angels. Perhaps the most frustrating part about it is that neither the Twins nor the Angels are particularly good baseball teams, and by and large, the losses have felt like imminently winnable games that the Rangers just ...didn’t.
You know the narrative by now: Martin Perez is going to be great except for one inning, in which he [2016: gives up a bunch of runs] / [2017: gives up a smaller number of runs]. Today, it appeared he might be shifting into a new era, in which he has his meltdown inning and gives up ...no runs?
In the first inning, after a Ryan Rua error, Mike Trout singled and Albert Pujols walked and we had Doug Brocail making an appearance before the Rangers had a single at-bat. But Jefry Marte lined out to Rougned Odor, and Mike Trout, perhaps unaware that there was only one out, bolted for third base on contact. Odor caught the ball, stepped on second base to complete the double play, and voila!
Only, in the second inning--after Delino DeShields’ leadoff walk-and-steal led to a run when Carlos Gomez singled him home--Perez deviated from the script. After The Bad Inning, he is supposed to throw zeroes. But Perez walked two more batters, and only escaped the inning when Yunel Escobar’s hard line drive happened to be aimed directly at DeShields in left field.
In the third, ironically, Perez had his first efficient inning, but gave up his first run when Kole Calhoun homered to lead off the inning. After that, however, Perez settled in… for an inning.
In the fifth, he found himself in hot water again. With the bases loaded, he got Pujols to pop out to first base and was on the precipice of another grand escape. But it was not to be. Marte pounced on a changeup and hit another line drive, just as he had done in the first inning. This one, however, was a little further to the left, just between Odor and Elvis Andrus. Two runs scored, and it was 3-1.
Shin-Soo Choo’s resurgence has come at a good time, which is to say, in a time when a lot of his teammates are struggling at the plate. Choo homered in the bottom of the fifth to pull the Rangers to within a run. But the deficit would soon be redoubled: in the top of the sixth, with two outs and an 0-2 count, Martin Maldonado doubled. Two pitches later, he scored on an Escobar bloop single. Calhoun followed with another single, and Perez’ day was finished. Jeremy Jeffress came on to put out the fire, first walking Trout, but then striking out Pujols to keep the score 4-2.
Texas had an opportunity in the eighth inning. Nomar Mazara stole second base (after initially being called out. Thanks video replay!) and Carlos Gomez walked. But with two on and Rougned Odor representing the go-ahead run, the Angels brought in closer Bud Norris. Norris started Odor 2-0, then 3-1. Odor then proceeded to swing at ball four to bring the count full. He fouled off ball five, then swung and missed at ball six to end the inning.
Jefry Marte put a cap on his afternoon by homering off Sam Dyson in the ninth inning, which is how we get to 5-2, which is where I laugh unconvincingly and say “ha ha ha wasn’t that a nice winning homestand? Ha ha do you get the joke? Because it was not encouraging at all, you see.”
We did get one quotable statement after the game that was worth using for the story. It went like this. "Little bit of a rough day today. Some days you win, and some days you learn. We just learned today, that's all."
That quote came from hip-hop artist Lecrae, who played a concert on the infield after the game.
Texas now goes to Houston for four games, Seattle for three, and San Diego for two before returning home on May 10th.
Before the game, it was announced that the Rangers had claimed Pete Kozma off waivers from the New York Yankees. Kozma had been DFAd to make room for Didi Gregorius when he returned from the disabled list. After the game, the Rangers announced that Jurickson Profar was being optioned to AAA to make room for Kozma on the big league roster. “The way that the situation was in left field and in the infield, lack of regular playing time,” GM Jon Daniels told us after the game. “This early in the season, (we felt) the time was better spent in AAA playing every day to let him get going.”
“It’s just a slump. It happens to everybody. He got off to a little bit of a slow start; other guys have played well, and we’ve always been of the mindset that if we have the option, which we do this time, we’d rather have him playing regularly, and let him get going, get hot and come back and help us next time we have a need. He’s not getting any better sitting on the bench right now.”