Rangers beat writer
The announced attendance was 41,664. 13,000 of those were tickets purchased by Capital One, given to residents of Arlington in recognition of today’s groundbreaking ceremony on the new Globe Life Field. From the looks of it, most–if not all–of the free ticket recipients opted to spend their Thursday night doing something other than watching the Rangers extend their losing streak to seven games. The final score was 4-1 Oakland.
Miguel Gonzalez made his last start of the year, and for the first four innings, he looked unstoppable, holding Oakland scoreless until a Matt Chapman solo home run in the fifth inning. Then in the bottom half of that same inning, Willie Calhoun reached via error and later scored on a Will Middlebrooks single. But the 1-1 score would last just a few batters.
In the sixth inning, with two outs, Gonzalez allowed three consecutive hits (single-double-single by Lowrie-Davis-Healy) to make it 3-1. That would be the extent of the action until the ninth inning, when Matt Bush couldn’t retire anyone in his second inning of work. After a sequence of single-single-single by Davis-Healy-Chapman, Jeff Banister called on Alex Claudio for the 478th time this season, and Claudio retired three of the four batters he faced, hitting former Ranger Jake Smolinski with a pitch for the only spot on his inning of work.
The Rangers had opportunities. In the first inning, with two outs, they got singles from Mazara and Rua, then a Gallo hit-by-pitch loaded ‘em up for Middlebrooks, but he grounded out. In the seventh, they loaded the bases without a hit, thanks to walks by Middlebrooks and DeShields sandwiching a Calhoun hit-by-pitch. But a Bob Melvin pitching change was effective: Liam Hendriks retired Elvis Andrus on a line out to right field.
Then in the ninth, pinch-hitting Shin-Soo Choo walked, and Calhoun singled. But a fielder’s choice by pinch-hitting Brett Nicholas, a Drew Robinson strikeout, and finally a DeShields fielder’s choice to shortstop put an end to the latest paragraph in a brutal final chapter to this 2017 season.
The team looks… some combination of tired, inexperienced, and slumping. And it’s hard to blame them. Banged up or fully injured are Mike Napoli, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Chirinos, Nomar Mazara, and Carlos Gomez. That’s ⅔ of your optimum lineup. In their place, it’s experience-getting time for Drew Robinson, A.J. Jimenez, Willie Calhoun, Brett Nicholas, Phil Gosselin, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Rua (who hit cleanup tonight), and Jared Hoying.
As far as the bullpen goes, Nick Gardewine is getting an extended look, pitching in his eleventh game tonight.
There are three games left, and while we will all no doubt miss baseball over the winter, we’re also to that point, I think, where it’s best to let it go take a rest for awhile.