Texas Rangers: Most Memorable Events of 2013
The Texas Rangers are looking to put the 2013 season completely in their rear view as they gear up for 2014.
Last year was filled with both good and bad memories, from a near-perfect game to a trade that didn’t pan out. The team also made history during a July series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Texas didn’t get a chance at a playoff run, but it was still a fun season to watch.
We are going to look at some of the most memorable events from this past season, whether we want to remember it forever or erase it from memory.
What are the most memorable events for you from 2013?
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Yu Darvish Nearly Perfect
It didn’t take long for Yu Darvish to get rolling in 2013.
In his first start of the season, the 26-year-old took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Houston Astros on April 2. He was just one out away from history until Marwin Gonzalez drove a single through his legs and out of the reach of Elvis Andrus.
Darvish would be pulled after the only hit he surrendered, finishing with 14 strikeouts on 111 pitches. He struck out the side twice and earned a K in every inning except the ninth. Four of his punch-outs came on full counts.
He would finish with a 3-1 record against the Astros, compiling 52 strikeouts in five starts. He posted a career-high 15 Ks in a near no-hitter on Aug. 12.
The Rangers were six games back when they began a three-game series with the Angels at the end of July.
Texas would go on to win each game of the series, each coming via a walk-off homer. They became the first team to sweep a series in that fashion since the Arizona Diamondbacks did it in 1999 against the Montreal Expos.
In the first game of the series, A.J. Pierzynski tied the game with a home run off Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning. Geovany Soto would then end it with a four-bagger of his own off Frieri, sending Texas to a 4-3 victory
The two teams would combine for 25 runs in the second game. Leonys Martin drove in the final three, hitting his first career walk-off homer with a screaming line drive over the left field wall, breaking the 11-11 tie.
Adrian Beltre continued the trend in the final game of the series. In a 1-1 ballgame, Beltre led off the ninth with a moon shot into the left field bleachers.
The walk-offs proved to be a spark for the Rangers. They won 10 of their next 11 games, erasing the six-game deficit and taking a one-game lead in the AL West.
Alex Rios Hits for Cycle
Only six players had hit for the cycle while wearing a Ranger uniform since the team's inaugural season in 1972.
Alex Rios became the seventh on Sept. 23 when Texas beat Houston 12-0. He began his night with a double in the first inning. He followed that up with a single in the third and hit a homer in the fourth.
Rios completed the feat by hitting a triple in the sixth inning, considered to be the hardest part of the cycle. The 32-year-old finished the night with four RBI and four hits in just four trips to the plate. Rios would score after his final hit, putting the Rangers up 11-0 before he was replaced by Engel Beltre.
This event is also a part of the trade the Rangers made after the deadline. The team failed to make a trade with the White Sox before the deadline but were able to pick him up on waivers for next to nothing. Rios made a substantial contribution to the team after Nelson Cruz was hit with a 50-game suspension.
Texas gets one more year with Rios before deciding whether or not he is worth the $13.5 million team option in 2015.
The Matt Garza Trade
Many people were thrilled when the Rangers pulled the trigger on getting Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs.
The only thing I had a problem with was the package Texas sent to Chicago for him. And after the performance he gave in Arlington, it is safe to say Garza was a bust.
The Rangers sent four players to the Cubs in exchange for the 30-year-old. The Cubs got third baseman Mike Olt and pitchers Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards and Neil Ramirez. Chicago was easily the winner of the trade that took place on July 22.
But Jon Daniels did what he needed to do. The pitching staff had depleted all season long. Eleven different pitchers made multiple starts for the team last season and just three broke the 20-start threshold.
In a playoff race, no one could argue with the move.
The only problem is that Garza, who was 6-1 with the Cubs with a 3.17 ERA, came to Arlington and didn’t produce the same quality innings. He was 4-5 with a 4.38 ERA during his tenure as a Ranger.
His best start came on Sept. 21 when he took a five-hit shutout into the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals. Garza did give up a leadoff homer to Eric Hosmer but earned the decision while the Rangers were just one game back in the wild-card race.
We can all sit here and badger the front office since Texas failed to make the postseason. But he was the best option available at the time, and Daniels made the deal.
50-Game Suspension for Cruz
Nelson Cruz was on pace to set career highs in a few categories during the 2013 season.
That was until he was suspended for 50 games for PED use. Before his suspension, he had hit 27 homers and drove in 76 RBI while hitting .266 through 109 games. His previous highs were 33 home runs in 2009 in 128 games and 90 RBI in 2012 in 159 games.
Cruz was a viable part of the Texas offense last season, even if his home run total was the only thing keeping him in the lineup. He had just as many strikeouts (109) as games played in 2013. His suspension is the reason the team went out and got Alex Rios.
Adrian Beltre became the main run producer for the team once Cruz was gone. The Rangers struggled to score runs for most of the season, but it became more evident when Cruz was out of the lineup.
The 33-year-old was a major component of the offense during his entire career with the Rangers. However, last season could have been one of his best.
Keeping Playoff Hopes Alive
There is no doubt that 2013 was an up-and-down year for the Rangers.
As previously mentioned, their three straight walk-offs against the Angels sparked a six-game comeback in the AL West. They went up by as many as 3.5 games over the Oakland A’s in the middle of August before dropping back down to 8.5 games back.
With the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays playing hot, the Rangers could not lose any of their final seven games. And as good as the 2012 postseason race was, the 2013 AL Wild Card was nearly as good.
Texas swept their final two series, including the final four-game set against the Angels. Their seven-game winning streak to end the season forced game No. 163 against the Rays, which they ultimately lost 5-2.
But nobody can argue that what they did wasn’t exciting. They gave their fans hope that the playoffs were still a possibility. Considering this team’s history, there isn’t much more you can ask for.
You can follow Trey on Twitter @treydwarren.