The Rangers had a lead in this game before we’d even reached post meridiem hours in the central time zone as Marcus Semien led off the game with a homer. Before the end of the first inning, it was 3-0 Texas but with a feeling that perhaps they’d left some meat on the bone against Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo.
That proved important as, by the end of the 2nd, the Pirates had scored twice to get to within a run and then both offenses played chicken to see who could waste the most chances.
Between Texas’ three-run outburst in the 1st and the late innings where the Rangers had to turn to the bullpen, the Rangers suffered their annual immaculate inning and couldn’t break the game open with a bases loaded opportunity.
Starter Martin Perez ultimately did his job though it came with the usual bend-but-don’t-break nature of his outings with Pittsburgh accruing eight base runners against him. Perez finished with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K and left with a 3-2 lead.
For once, the bullpen held — barely — and the Rangers escaped Pittsburgh with a series victory and their season high-water mark of 13 games above .500.
Player of the Game: Will Smith had pitched twice in the last two weeks despite being the Rangers’ best reliever so far this season because no one else in the bullpen could get a lead to him. Today, after Jose Leclerc loaded the bases in the 8th with just one out, Bruce Bochy just said screw it and brought Smith in and asked him to secure Texas a five-out save.
After wiggling out of Leclerc’s jam, Smith produced a 1-2-3 9th for the save and the sigh of relief.
Up Next: The Rangers will have the day off tomorrow before beginning a weekend series in Baltimore. RHP Jon Gray will make the start in the opener for Texas against a pitcher to be named for the Orioles.
The Friday evening first pitch from Oriole Park at Camden Yards is scheduled for 6:05 pm CT and will be aired on BS Southwest.