Texas Rangers' Week 18 Review: Wild Week Heats Up Wild Card Race

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IAugust 11, 2009

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 04:  Relief pitcher Derek Holland #67 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 4, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona. The Rangers defeated the Royals 5-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Rangers came into this past week beginning a long, 10 game road trip that lead the Rangers to Oakland and Anaheim for seven of the games.

With the Rangers still trailing the Angels, the hottest team in baseball, in the AL West standings and the Red Sox in the wild card, Texas needed a productive week.

It would not start that way, as the Rangers lost three of the four games in Oakland and would fall to 4.5 games behind the Angels heading into Anaheim.

The Rangers went into Anaheim having beaten the Angels seven of nine times this season, however many media outlets and Angel fans would tell you this time the Rangers would get a dose of reality.  But once again the Rangers won the series, pulling to within 3.5 behind the Angels and a tie with the Red Sox in the wild card.


Monday: L, 2-3 (59-45)

Dustin Nippert would make a spot start for the Rangers and pitched five shutout innings, while allowing only one hit and striking out five.  Following him was the Major League debut of the Rangers top prospect Neftali Feliz.

Feliz pitched two perfect innings, striking out the first four batters he faced in his Major League career.

The Rangers had a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth when then closer C.J. Wilson allowed four runs on three hits, including a walk-off triple by Rajai Davis to lose the game.


Tuesday: L, 0-6 (59-46)

Derek Holland took to the mound coming off his incredible performance in Arlington to shutdown the Mariners.  However this outing would be a return to Earth for Holland, he allowed four runs (three earned) to score in 4.1 innings and received no help from his offense.

The Ranger bats would not score, only got five hits, one extra-base hit, and struck out 11 times.


Wednesday: L, 5-7 (59-47)

The Rangers would drop their third straight game and lose the series in Oakland, thanks in part to another sub-par performance from Vicente Padilla.  Padilla allowed six runs to score in 5.2 innings, but it would be the last time he took the mound in a Rangers uniform.

Texas' offense was highlighted by a two-hit outing from Josh Hamilton and a pair of home runs by David Murphy.

The Rangers came back from deficits twice, but could not the third time and took another painful loss in a divisional and wild card race that's heating up.


Thursday: W, 6-4 (60-47)

Trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of the A’s, the Rangers needed a strong pitching outing, that would get that from Tommy Hunter.  Hunter went seven complete innings allowing three runs (two earned) and gave the Rangers the outing they needed to avoid the sweep.

The Rangers offense again came back from a 2-0 deficit in the first inning and was sparked by power shots from Hank Blalock and Michael Young.

The win kept the Rangers 4.5 games behind the Angels as they left Oakland and headed into Anaheim.


Friday: W, 11-6 (61-47)

Needing to make a statement early in this series, the Rangers scored four runs in the first inning that was highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Hamilton and Blalock.

The Rangers offense would knock out Angel starter Joe Saunders before the end of the second inning.

The Texas offense notched three more runs in the fifth inning off of three solo shots by Taylor Teagarden, Omar Vizquel (first of the year), and Young.

Scott Feldman started for the Rangers.  Though he didn’t have his best stuff, he managed the game well and held the Angels offense down from scoring a ton of runs, which they have been doing a lot lately.


Saturday: L, 2-3 (61-48)

Coming off a slugfest, the Rangers and Angels had a pitching duel.  Kevin Millwood pitched a short outing for him going only six innings, allowing two runs to score, and struck out five.  Jered Weaver took to the mound for the Angels, he pitched 7.1 innings, giving up two runs as well, but struck out 11 Ranger batters.

Texas scored both runs in the fifth on a Blalock two-run shot, scoring himself and Hamilton.  But the Rangers best chance to win the game was in the eighth inning when they had runners at second and third with only one out.  However Young would strike out and Marlon Byrd popped out to end the threat.


Sunday: W, 7-0 (62-48)

In the rubber match of this series, the Angels had their ace John Lackey on the mound and the Rangers needed a strong outing from Derek Holland.

Lackey pitched well, but multiple errors killed him in this outing as the Rangers scored four times (two earned) in 6.2 innings.  Texas got three more runs off the Angels bullpen highlighted by home runs from Teagarden (eighth inning) and Byrd (ninth inning).

Holland, on the other hand, out-did his performance in Arlington against the Mariners.  He had a no-hitter going until a sixth inning single by Maicer Izturis.

The difference is Derek would get to finish what he started this time out, he went all nine, scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and striking out a career high eight.  He was masterful again and right when the team needed it the most.

As of Monday, the Rangers had pulled to within 3.5 games of the Angels (65-44) with the Mariners (58-53) still trailing the West leaders by 7.5, and the A’s (49-62) are 17 games out.

This week the Rangers finish off their road trip with three games in Cleveland before returning home for three games with the Red Sox.  Texas needs to win this series against the Indians before another huge series against the current wild card leading Red Sox.