The best part about the Texas Rangers’ arrival for their first series at Citi Field is in how they got there late Thursday and early Friday from Baltimore.
Air travel on the East Coast was a hassle for everyone, including the Rangers, so they ditched their charter flight for two luxury buses and a 3-hour, 30-minute drive up I-95.
Dicey weather conditions had caused delays in both cities, with waits as long as three hours into John F. Kennedy Airport. That led traveling secretary Chris Lyngos to call on buses rather than risk sitting on a tarmac for multiple hours.
The decision, unlike holding back starter Yu Darvish, didn’t backfire.
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“It was probably a half-hour longer than flying, with no headaches,” Lyngos said. “We had food and drinks, the guys had Wi-Fi. They liked it.”
Players and manager Ron Washington didn’t offer any complaints about the trip. Many watched movies or used their iPads or caught some sleep, and some were taken back to their days on minor league buses.
“I don’t think anyone thought it was that bad,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “We’ve all been in the minor leagues before.”
One notable player, staff ace Yu Darvish, wasn’t on the bus. He and interpreter Kenji Nimura hopped on a train while the Rangers were finishing up at Camden Yards. Though they beat the Rangers out the door by a couple hours, they beat them to the team hotel by only 20 minutes after a power outage in the Philadelphia area led to a 90-minute delay.
Colby Lewis returns to the mound Saturday seeking to build on a two-start streak that could indicate that he has found a comfort zone after missing 1 1/2 seasons.
The right-hander has logged 12 1/3 innings, allowing six runs. But he has struck out 14 without issuing a walk as he zeroes in on the kind of fastball command that made him a key component of the rotation from 2010 until he suffered arm and hip injuries in 2012 and 2013.
“I feel like it’s been a process,” Lewis said. “The process has been a little bit longer than I expected it to be, but I feel like I’m getting back to where I once was.”
The fastball command has made his secondary pitches more effective.
“It’s just location,” Lewis said. “When you locate the fastball, everything works off of that.”
Scott Baker had only previously seen what a long reliever might go through, but as a starting pitcher, he never had an appreciation for the role or all the details of what it entails.
After serving as the Rangers’ long man, he gets it now.
Baker, who worked 4 2/3 innings Thursday in a spot start, said that he has adjusted his routine and mindset after years of starting. Though his ERA is 5.80, Baker has allowed only five runs in his past 16 2/3 innings (2.70 ERA).
“I’m embarking on a road I’ve never been down,” Baker said. “But I’m fully embracing this role. I’m starting to appreciate how difficult this role is. I respect guys that are able to do this role and do it well.”
Baker has four relief appearances of at least five innings, the most by any big league reliever since Tom Bolton had five in 1993 for Detroit and the most by a Rangers reliever since Danny Darwin had four in 1980.
• Center fielder Daniel Robertson has ditched the protective mask he had been wearing since suffering facial fractures May 22 in a collision with right fielder Alex Rios. Doctors had advised him to wear the mask for six weeks.
• Left-hander Joe Saunders has been granted his release waivers and is a free agent. He went 0-5 with a 6.13 ERA in eight starts with the Rangers.