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Thoughts on a 5-1 Rangers win

Rangers 5, Jays 1

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 5, Jays 1

  • The Rangers have won 4 games this season. 2 of them have been by scores of 5-1, and 1 was by a 4-1 score.
  • This game felt, for a few innings, like one of those games that was going to have a lot of missed opportunities, and then the Jays were going to score a couple of runs because something stupid happened, and we’d end up losing and everyone would be mad because it was a game that Texas should have won. That didn’t happen, thankfully.
  • Mike Minor has been impressive in his first two starts of the season, following a strong spring training, and at this point, it seems reasonable to be cautiously optimistic about Minor as a starting pitcher. 6 innings tonight, 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 run allowed, 7 Ks, really good stuff. The jury is still out on whether Minor will be able to stay healthy and effective over the course of the season, but right now, things look very good.
  • When talk started up in camp about how minor league free agent Kevin Jepsen, a guy who spent all of 2017 in the minor leagues, might break camp in the major league rotation, I kind of rolled my eyes and figured it was just hot air about a random camp arm, something that seems to happen every year, with the pitcher in question ended up spending the year in Round Rock. Jepsen finished the spring strong, though, made the roster, and even earned the nod as the backup to Keone Kela, the guy who will close when Kela isn’t available. Two more strong innings from Jepsen today, as he faced six batters, allowed just one baserunner (a walk that was erased on a GIDP started by a great play by a diving Jurickson Profar at third base), and kept Toronto off the board. Jepsen looks so far like a very nice pickup, and could have value either as a reliever over the course of the season, or as a potential trade chip in July, should the Rangers fall out of the race.
  • You could apply those options to Jake Diekman, who pitched the ninth inning tonight, as well. Like Jepsen, Diekman is a free agent after the season, and is coming off a 2017 season that was largely lost (in Diekman’s case, due to surgery to remove much of his colon, which cost him all but the final month). Diekman faced the minimum in the ninth and got a strike out to end the game.
  • The bats were making some noise off of Marcus Stroman early, but some bad luck kept Texas from putting a crooked number on the board in the early going, and as I mentioned above, it felt like it might be one of those games we’d be lamenting the missed opportunities. Back to back walks for Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar in the second, followed by a runners-advancing groundout (after two failed bunt attempts), brought Ryan Rua to the plate in a scoreless game. Rua smoked a ball to the right-center gap that looked like a sure double, only to see it run down for the second out...Gallo tagged up and scored, but after Drew Robinson grounded out, the inning ended with a 1-0 lead, rather than what appeared to be set up to be, at minimum, a 2-0 lead.
  • Texas threatened again in the third, when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a single, then went to third on a one out single by Elvis Andrus. Nomar Mazara, up with runners on the corners, smoked a ball that looked like an RBI single...but second baseman Devon Travis made a terrific diving stop on the ball, leading to a 4-6-3 GIDP. I initially thought Mazara was safe at first, and it looked like the Rangers would challenge the call, but replay showed the throw beat Mazara by a hair, ending the inning and snuffing out another rally.
  • After the Rangers got Gallo and Profar on to start the fourth, only to strand them both, one began to wonder if this was a cursed night. The dam broke in the fifth, however. Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor walked, but that was followed by an Elvis Andrus fly out and a Nomar Mazara K (with a balk mixed in for good measure). Two on, two outs, Joey Gallo due up, and it was seemingly worrying like the early part of the evening, with baserunners poised to be wasted. Gallo laced a ball past first for a double, however, bringing home the runners, and then Profar hit an identical ball down the first base line for another double, making it a 4-1 game. That chased Stroman, but Juan Centeno greeted reliever Danny Barnes with an RBI single, making it 5-1.
  • Ryan Rua almost got cheated of another hit in that inning, incidentally. After Centeno’s single, Rua hit a sinking liner to left that Steven Pearce dived for, then popped up holding his glove in the air, indicating he caught it. The umpires on the field called it a single, though, and the replays showed it was trapped, not caught, despite Pearce’s sales job. Rua’s had a rough enough go of things early on to lose two hits to great defensive plays today.
  • A nice game, all in all, with Profar and Gallo each getting on three times, Elvis getting a pair of hits to push his average up to .385, and Odor drawing a walk. Now Texas just needs to take the finale tomorrow and win their first series of the season.