Rangers Recap: Strong start to AL West swing

Rangers Recap: Strong start to AL West swing

Credit: Getty Images

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 15: Relief pitcher Ben Rowen #39 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 15, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners defeated the Rangers 5-1. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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by JOSEPH URSERY

WFAA Sports

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Every Monday, we look back at the weekend's series and then preview the next week's series.

Pretty nice little sports weekend. Had the NHL and NBA Finals wrap up, little bit of soccer going on, Father's Day on Sunday (my research has concluded that a majority of people have Fathers, and a smaller group are, themselves, Fathers). Game of Thrones wrapped up the season on Sunday.

Pretty good excuses not to watch the Battle for Third Place that took place in Seattle this weekend. I'm not judging you, if you did or didn't. We're all friends here.

We're not in Seattle here, Dirk, and we never will be

Here's the cheat sheet for this series: The Mariners were at home in their cavernous stadium, pitching Felix Martinez, Erasmo Ramirez, and Hishashi Iwakuma. The walking wounded Rangers started Nick Tepesch, Joe Saunders, and Nick Martinez.

Winning two out of three with those odds is a small, good thing in a brutal season like this.

Friday's game featured 6.1 innings of shutout ball by Tepesch, allowing only four baserunners (two each via walk and hit) while striking out five. He was followed by Jason Frasor, Shawn Tolleson, and Joakim Soria recording the last eight outs without a baserunner.

As Yu Darvish knows full well, it's all but impossible to win when your team scores zero runs for you. Felix Hernandez learned that lesson well, taking the loss despite taking a shutout in to the ninth innings and departing allowing only one run.

Saturday's game I.... I did not watch. Look, we all said we're friends here, so we can admit things like this. I can't even offer a good excuse, like World Cup watching. No, I had a four-female sleepover at my house, and Frozen was shown at least five times while the Rangers were winning 4-3. The good news is, Kristin Bell can really sing and Olaf is pretty rad and the Rangers won. The bad news is I fear Idina Menzel is pretty overrated. Demi Lovato's version of “Let It Go” knocks hers out.

Joe Saunders has allowed only six earned runs since his return from the DL, spanning 22.1 innings. Maybe he's figured something out, or maybe he's just in a run of good luck. I'm lead to believe it's luck more than skill, because in those 22.1 innings he's allowed 37 baserunners, and it's a lot easier to not allow runs when you don't allow baserunners, but baseball is a complicated sport and 2014 is weird so I'm just going to go for it.

Sunday's game doesn't look as bad as 5-1 looks on the surface. Nick Martinez, continuing a trend that would be more than welcome, pitched well enough to keep Texas in the game (6 innings, 9 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 2 runs). He was relieved by Robbie Ross, who brought his gas can to the mound. After an uneventful seventh (marred only by a walk to James Jones, who holds a .304 OBP against LHP for the season), Ross allowed three straight hits to start the eighth. Two runs were across by the time he exited, and Ben Rowen let a third in on a sacrifice fly. It was Ross's 4th appearance in which he'd allowed multiple runs since moving to the bullpen. It was his 8th appearance since moving to the bullpen. He's not in a good place right now.

Ben Rowen, though, I think is more than a just-happy-to-be-here guy. For years, he's been told his stuff wouldn't play up at the next level, and he just keeps getting guys to pound the ball into the dirt each time. He might not be able to get lefties out in the Majors (although that would be the first time in his professional career he hasn't), but he's going to be very tough on righties, and is a good weapon to have.

I like playing for Oakland. They have a very colorful uniform- Rickey Henderson

There was a time when a road trip to Oakland would give you a good barometer of how the Rangers are stacked up, but you don't need a thermometer when it's snowing, and you don't need a barometer when Donnie Murphy and Brad Snyder are your first basemen.

Tonight's game will see Colby Lewis match up against Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz was drafted by the Rangers in 2007, but the team was unable to persuade him that riding a bus in Arizona was more tempting  than a dorm room in Mississippi. He's since been traded twice, meaning you could argue Oakland is his fourth team. He's given Oakland 52 innings of 1.90 ERA ball this year, because Billy Bean apparently captured a leprechaun and makes him bleed good luck all over everything he's done for the past three years.

On Tuesday, Yu Darvish faces Tommy Milone. The lefty Milone is much better in Oakland (1.93 ERA, .210 BA against) than on the road (4.73, .274). Yu Darvish is an animal that is probably the result of alien engineering. This season is dark and full of terrors, look to Yu whenever he pitches and rejoice, and imagine the brighter days ahead.

Wednesday's afternoon finale will see Nick Tepesch match up with Sonny Gray. You could say Sonny Gray is Oakland's ace and most wouldn't argue with you. He has a 2.93 ERA backed up by a 3.32 FIP and a 3.42 xFIP. After last month's two-inning, five-run implosion in Washington, Tepesch has pitched into the sixth in both of his last two starts. Building on that momentum would be a good thing for Nick here.

Joseph Ursery can be found here and on twitter.com at @thejoeursery. His main interests include fatherhood, craft beer, facial hair, and twenty-year-old middle infielders with patience and power. Oh, and cover songs, too. He really likes cover songs. “No particular reason why,” he says, but WFAA feels like there's more to this story.

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