Not a lot of good happened for the Texas Rangers on their just completed nine-game road trip, as their 3-6 record indicates.
They were nearly swept at Houston, where they had to endure the Woo; could have been swept at Seattle, were it not for six rare scoreless innings by the bullpen in the opener; and managed a split with San Diego, which started Jered Weaver and his 83 mph fastball.
Cole Hamels was lost early on, too.
The best thing about the road trip is that it’s over. San Diego, Oakland and Philadelphia await. Anything less than five wins will rate as a disappointment, even for this Rangers team.
A few good things happened on the road trip, two of them Tuesday.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 11-0 victory on a tough day for the Star-Telegram.
1. A.J. Griffin stands out as the star of the Rangers’ road trip for one simple reason: Twice in nine games he put an end to three-game losing streaks.
He did enough Thursday over five innings in his first start off the disabled list to hold off Houston and keep the Rangers from a four-game sweep, and he did more than enough Tuesday to earn a split with San Diego.
Griffin, pitching in front of friends and family in his hometown, tossed a four-hit shutout on only 104 pitches against the Padres. He walked only one and struck out four in the Rangers’ first shutout since 2015.
Aside from being the Rangers’ skid buster — “It’s huge,” manager Jeff Banister said — Griffin also give the overworked/beleaguered/underperforming/stinky bullpen a day off. The only reliever to throw a ball was Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who would have made his MLB debut had Griffin faltered in the ninth.
The only downer about Griffin’s trip to San Diego was that he couldn’t have any Mexican food.
“I’ve got the gout,” he told local reporters, unashamed.
Griffin locked up Padres hitters Tuesday, and the Rangers needed the performance badly.
2. A slumping hitter often says it takes only one pitch or one pitcher to help him find his stride again at the plate. Perhaps Weaver will be that pitcher for multiple Rangers hitters.
Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, Ryan Rua and Joey Gallo all got some against Weaver, who continues to pitch despite throwing with a shot right arm that is capable of only 83 mph fastballs.
(Shin-Soo Choo was hit with one of those as the game’s first hitter. Certainly it hurt, but it’s probably akin to a mosquito bite.)
Odor singled twice after not collecting a hit since his game-winning homer Friday night.
Rua knocked a three-run homer after Odor’s first-inning single for only his second hit on the road trip.
Gallo, who has a team-high 11 home runs, said that none of the Rangers’ hitters is panicking by the lackluster performance, but frustration had set in within the lineup. Banister said that it wasn’t a perfect day for the lineup, with some their approaches slipping at certain times, but the ability to string together quality at-bats and plate appearances was there.
Staying honed in on the approach and being able to have multiple productive at-bats is what starts rallies and breaks slumps.
Facing a guy like Weaver doesn’t hurt. Maybe he’s the pitcher who gets the Rangers going offensively.
3. Many of you didn’t know of Celeste Williams, though over the years you knew of the writers she put in the right places as the Star-Telegram’s Sports Editor.
David Sessions on Stars and Rangers. Carlos Mendez on TCU. Art Garcia on Mavericks. Yes, even Stefan Stevenson on TCU and Rangers.
She didn’t mess with Clarence Hill and Charean Williams on Cowboys, or T.R. Sullivan on Rangers. She left Dwain Price on the Mavs and NBA. Drew Davison has become an All-Star. She saved my butt more than once, and still entrusted me with TCU and the Rangers.
She let Randy Galloway write whatever the heck he wanted, which took some guts. She knew that, despite his hot-selling Cowboys book, Jim Reeves was a baseball man. She knew better than to disrupt the good thing we have in Gil LeBreton.
There are others, of course, and Celeste had each writer’s best interest in mind and fought like hell for every one of us as our industry started to crumble. She took personally the battles she couldn’t win and kept on fighting.
Celeste passed away Monday night after a brief illness, and the journalism world is not as good of a place as it was Monday afternoon. She’s been hailed as a pioneer for women in sports journalism, and she was a friend as much as a boss.
A great boss. A greater loss.