After splitting an inter-league series with the Mets, the Rangers entered the home-stand with a 3 game set with the 1st place Houston Astros. The Astros entered the series having lost 7 of their last 9, including a 3 game sweep at the hands of the lowly Chicago White Sox.
Friday night was a highly anticipated matchup among Ranger fans, with 33,897 fans in attendance to watch Cole Hamels pitch. The Rangers struck first in the bottom of the 3rd when Elvis Andrus poked in RBI single that scored Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers would go on to score 3 more runs that inning, and from there, never looked back, en route to a 6-4 series opening victory.
The following night, the same night Ranger legend Pudge Rodriguez would have his jersey retired in the franchise, once again the Rangers struck first, courtesy of a Brett Nicholas 3-run shot off of Mike Fiers. As the night before, the Rangers would hold onto that lead, emerging victories, 8-3.
In search of a series sweep of their in-state rival, the Ranger bats fell silent with runners on base, scoring only 1 run, on an Adrian Beltre homer, and leaving 15 runners on base. The Astros would go on to win 2-1, despite plenty of Ranger opportunities to score runs.
All in all, Ranger fans should be satisfied with the way the series played out. As they continue to battle for an A.L wild card spot, a series win against a great team like Houston can give the Rangers the boost they need to turn this home-stand into a productive one, but without further-ado, lets get in to what we learned about the Rangers over the week-end:
1. Cole Hamels can lead the Rangers rotation into the post-season
With Yu Darvish out of the fold via trade, Cole Hamels is once again the lone ace of the Rangers’ rotation. Hamels pitched Friday night, delivering 7 shutout innings and only allowing 3 hits. Although he is in the midst of a 17 inning streak without an earned run allowed, Cole has been inconsistent ever since he came off the D.L in July. However, Hamels’ experience of being a leader on contending teams, such as the 2008 Phillies World Series team, in which he won World Series MVP on, will serve him well in the Rangers’ quest to the postseason. With Yu Darvish out of the fold via trade, Cole Hamels is once again the lone ace of the Rangers’ rotation.
2. Potential September call-ups Willie Calhoun and Ronald Guzman can make an impact
All Willie Calhoun has done since being acquired in the Yu Darvish trade is rake Triple-A pitching, to the tune of a .282 batting average and 4 home runs un 10 games with Round Rock. As Rougned Odor continues to slump through a forgettable 2017 campaign, Calhoun can provide an immediate impact at the plate, as a DH, 2nd Baseman, or Left Fielder.
Another top prospect who has raked his way through the farm system, Ronald Guzman is batting .317 with 21 doubles and 12 home runs, continuing what he started last season in Frisco where he hit 15 bombs. Major League 1st baseman Mike Napoli has been capable of hitting for power, but his average sits below the Mendoza Line at .199. If Guzman is promoted, as expected, look for Guzman to make a big impact with his bat.
3. Matt Bush is back, folks
After 2 and 1/3 innings of perfect pitching from Matt Bush on Saturday, Bush has gone 8 straight appearances without an earned run allowed. In that span, Bush has given up only 3 hits, a far cry from the 21 hits he allowed in June. As the bullpen continues to blow away it’s performance from the first two months of the season, Bush has been right in the thick of it’s resurgence and as the games begin to matter more and more regarding a Wild-Card race, Bush will be trusted by Manager Jeff Banister to get clutch outs late in ball-games.