Thoughts on taking 2 of 3 in Seattle

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers lost today, but won the series. I'll take that.

Friday:  Texas 1, Seattle 0

Saturday:  Texas 4, Seattle 3

Sunday:  Seattle 5, Texas 1

  • I was too tired to do a "Thoughts" post Friday night, and I fell asleep before Saturday's game ended, so I'm going to offer thoughts on the series as a whole tonight.
  • Which saves me from having to just write tonight about a pretty dull and uninspiring Rangers loss.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma is really good, and the Rangers offense isn't good, so only scoring one run today isn't all that unexpected.  Pressed-into-duty fifth string first baseman Brad Snyder had his first major league homer and had another hit, so that was nice.  Leonys Martin, Elvis Andrus, Luis Sardinas and Chris Gimenez also got hits.  No one got a walk.  The bats were pretty well shut down.
  • You take the silver linings where you can get them, and today, the silver lining was probably Nick Martinez.  Martinez had a disaster outing his last time out, going just 2 innings and allowing 8 runs, and in his two starts before that, he gave up 10 runs in 11 innings.  His ERA before that three start stretch was 2.14, and he came into today's game with a 4.63 ERA.  You worry about how a young pitcher is going to react after a shelling like Martinez took last time out, but he bounced back and pitched okay, giving up just 2 runs in 6 innings, striking out 3, walking 1, and allowing 9 hits.  Yes, you'd rather he not give up 9 hits, but this is a guy who should be in AA right now, but for all the injuries that have crippled the pitching staff.  I'm willing to cut him some slack, and give him credit for making progress.
  • On the other hand, Robbie Ross had another problematic outing.  Relieving Martinez to start the 7th, he got Endy Chavez to fly out, walked James Jones, then elicited a GIDP from Robinson Cano.  So far, so good.  Things blew up in the 8th, however, as he went single-double-single-single before being lifted for Ben Rowen.  Ross ended up getting tagged with 3 runs in 1 inning of work, lifting his ERA to 5.34.  He's been having a problem for a couple of months now with his pitches catching too much of the plate -- he now has a .447 BABIP as a reliever, and that's a product of bad pitching, not bad luck.
  • This was the first time Ross has pitched since June 9, when he pitched the 9th in the 17-7 home blowout against the Indians, and Wash has generally avoided using him in a tight game.  I think you'd have to think about sending him down and trying to get his command back in AAA, and bring Aaron Poreda back as the second lefty in the bullpen.  Or else plan on sending Ross down if and when Neftali Feliz is ready.
  • On the plus side, Ben Rowen made his major league debut, and retired all three batters he faced.
  • Leonys Martin has started the past two games in the leadoff spot, and Michael Choice has sat each of the past two games.  The Rangers have a problem with their lineup, in that they have three good hitters -- Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre -- and then a bunch of problems.  With Choo now in the third spot, there's no real obvious candidate for the leadoff spot, although the Rangers clearly have hoped that Leonys would grow into the spot.  Choice is uniquely ill-suited to leadoff -- he profiles more as the type of low-OBP, high-ISO hitter you plug into the 5th or 6th spot -- and he seemed to have been put there as the option that Wash found least objectionable.  Leonys has picked up 3 hits in the leadoff spot the past two games, including the game-winning hit Saturday, so maybe he'll get an extended look at the top of the order.
  • Robinson Chirinos also had two hits Saturday, including a huge 2 run homer to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the 6th, as well as a double.  Chirinos is hitting .234/.273/.406 on the season...it seems like he's hitting better than that, but it may just seem that he's having memorable hits that make me think he's hitting better.
  • Joe Saunders had his fifth straight solid outing since coming off the d.l. on Saturday, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings.  As much as I bemoaned the Saunders signing, with all the injured starting pitchers the Rangers have, Saunders has turned into a valuable rotation piece...hell, he's probably the team's second best starter right now.
  • Neal Cotts had one of his best outings of the season Saturday, coming into the game with the bases loaded and one out, and the Rangers up one.  Cotts allowed a hit to Robinson Cano to tie the game, but then retired the next five hitters he faced, 4 on strikes.  If we could get some more of that Neal Cotts, this bullpen would look a lot better.
  • Friday...oh, hey, another shutout.  The fact that the Rangers keep shutting out teams, while at the same time maintaining one of the highest ERAs in the league, is a mystery, and having these sorts of wildly fluctuating results at least keeps you on your toes.
  • Hey there, Nick Tepesch...Tepesch was coming off of a couple of spotty outings heading into Friday's game, and you had to be concerned that his early success was a mirage.  But Tepesch went 6.1 innings, getting pulled after just 73 pitches after he walked two batters in the 7th (the only two batters he walked all game), and ended up allowing no runs on those two walks and a pair of hits, with five Ks.  Tepesch continued to have issues the third time through the order, but it was a solid outing.
  • Joakim Soria had saves on Friday and Saturday.  He's awesome.
  • Elvis Andrus had a pair of hits on Friday, stole a couple of bases, and scored the only run of the game on an Adrian Beltre fielder's choice.
  • There was nothing else about the offense on Friday that was worth noting.
  • On to Oakland for three games.  Let's see if we can take 2 for 3 from the A's, as well.
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