It’s easy to say that the Rangers must have done a lot wrong to be in last place. And they have done their share.
Some of it was just the natural cycle of rosters that contend, age, change, and then recede. Some of it was transactions meant to extend the time at the top of that cycle which have now accelerated the descent to the bottom. Some of it was poor talent acquisition. Some of it was poor resource allocation. And some of it is bad development.
All of this is true to varying degrees.
Tonight, however, some things that the Rangers are doing right — even as a last place team — were on display.
The Rangers confidently signed Mike Minor straight out of gate in free agency — to a rather thrifty three-year, $28 M deal — and converted him back to a starter. After getting his bearings in the rotation earlier in the year, he’s been pitching really well and tonight he tossed a very-nearly-special gem.
Rule 5 selection Delino DeShields bunted in a run on what would have been a safety squeeze for any mortal man. That wasn’t even the best thing DeShields did on the night as flat out robbed Hunter Renfroe of a home run to continue his climb from a suspect defender in left field to one of the better center fielders in the game.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa has now started three games behind the plate and the utility everywhere fielder has helped Austin Bibens-Dirkx, an ancient Bartolo Colon, and converted reliever Minor allow a total of three runs (the bullpen has always given up three runs) combined in 20 2⁄3 innings in those three games. And while those games were against the Royals, Twins, and now Padres, those teams were also champing at the bit to face Bibens-Dirkx, Colon, Minor and the last place Rangers.
You know how they say a character actor disappears into a role? That’s been Kiner-Falefa as a catcher. He’s unrecognizable as not supposed to be able to do this.
Yes, the Rangers still have a long way to go to get back on top, but they’re not a complete black hole devoid of interesting developments.
P.S. Shin-Soo Choo reached thrice and his on base streak is now at a very impressive 40 consecutive games.
Player of the Game: Last time he pitched I wrote that Minor seemed to be taking to his conversion back to starter pretty well of late. Tonight, Minor took it one extreme step further as he was dang near perfect.
Minor didn’t allow a baserunner until the 20th batter of the game and ended with a line of 7 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 5 Ks on 85 pitches for a game score of 85.
Minor probably won’t be flirting with a perfect game every time out but he’s looking more and more like someone the Rangers can pencil into the rotation over the life of his contract and be happy to see his turn come up on the schedule.
Up Next: The Rangers get a day off tomorrow before welcoming the Chicago White Sox to Arlington to begin a series that will close out June and usher in July.