Good news emerged Sunday afternoon at wind-swept Globe Life Park.
The Texas Rangers won’t face Dallas Keuchel this week during their four-game series against the Houston Astros.
Keuchel had another sensational April and should be the American League Pitcher of the Month when that award is handed out later this week.
Just getting to face the Astros is good news for the Rangers, who have pretty much owned Houston the past two seasons. That’s why the Rangers are the reigning two-time AL West champions and the Astros are the two-time reigning AL West also-rans.
Stefan Stevenson left for Minute Maid Park late Sunday afternoon and will cover the series before I head to Seattle and San Diego to complete the nine-game road trip. Got to get those airline miles.
The Rangers could be above .500 with a sweep or at .500 with a series win, though either would be a tall task with the first-place Astros sitting at 16-9. At this point, Rangers will gladly take a series split after two straight series loses.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Sunday’s 5-2 loss that clinched the three-game series for the Anaheim Angels.
1. Multiple choice: The 11-14 April turned in by the Texas Rangers was:
A) What they deserved,
B) Not as bad as it looks,
C) Worse than it looks?
The answer is not C, no matter your current level of cynicism.
A case can be made for B, with Sam Dyson’s woes leading to four losses.
But A seems like the appropriate answer based on the way the offense sputtered, the generosity of the pitching staff, and the sloppiness on defense.
The Rangers didn’t play well enough to win consistently enough, and the bullpen was part of that.
Are the Rangers close to playing well regularly? Sure, if everyone gets hot at the plate and the starters stop handing out walks and the defense makes every play. Heck, the Rangers might go undefeated the rest of the way if that’s the case.
But that, of course, won’t be the case. The Rangers have too many slumping hitters in their lineup right now, starting with Mike Napoli, and the pitchers can’t seem to find the strike zone often enough to stop giving opponents extra base runners and extra chances.
The defense is also providing too many extra outs.
There are signs that things are going to improve. Delino DeShields has sparked the offense lately; Joey Gallo has been a very pleasant surprise; Shin-Soo Choo, Rougned Odor and Carlos Gomez are heating up.
Adrian Beltre should return at some point in May.
There are also signs that things could get worse. The Rangers have a road-heavy May schedule, and the sheer volume of walks could really start to catch up to the pitchers.
After one month, though, they deserved everything they got.
2. The minimum Martin Perez hopes to achieve each outing is a quality start. He believes, and for the most part rightfully so, that his team should be able to withstand three earned runs in six innings.
Of course, there are those iffy quality starts when a pitcher leaves having allowed six runs with only three earned. Perez couldn’t even do that against the Angels, who had 12 base runners in 5 2/3 innings against the left-hander.
Perez allowed four runs. Three of the runs came with two outs, including a two-run single in the fifth by Jefry Marte after an intentional walk to Mike Trout and a popout from Albert Pujols.
The inning started with a single by No. 9 hitter Martin Maldonado, who doubled in the sixth after the first two Angels grounded out. Maldonado scored as Yunel Escobar singled, and Perez was pulled after a single by Kole Calhoun.
Calhoun started the third with a homer, the first by a lefty hitter at Globe Life Park against Perez since May 10, 2014. David Ortiz did it that day.
Perez also allowed four walks and eight hits. Not his day, though it wasn’t too far off from what he’s done in more successful starts this season.
Maybe he’s still waiting for his day. I bet many with the Rangers are, too.
3. The great Pete Kozma will be joining the 25-man roster after the Rangers claimed the utility infielder from the New York Yankees, and that means that Jurickson Profar will be going to Triple A Round Rock.
Profar was optioned after the game because he is still young enough that he needs to play, and he hasn’t played since Monday. Not playing doesn’t do him or the Rangers any good.
There was talk behind the scenes in spring training that Profar should open at Round Rock and earn his way onto the Rangers’ roster at some point during the season, similar to what the original plan was for Joey Gallo.
It has been a quick demise for Profar, who starred for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and was a roster lock. He started on Opening Day and was given a chance to make left field his before slumping to open the season.
DeShields is attempting to stake his claim on that job now. He made his fourth straight start Sunday and has easily had the most productive four-game stretch by a Rangers left fielder this season.
Ultimately, the job could become Gallo’s once Beltre returns, whenever that may be. Mid-May is looking like the earliest possible return. Gallo, barring a complete collapse, will stay with the team and will need to play regularly.
The Rangers have time before having to make that decision. A lot will happen between now and then.