Not all was lost Saturday by the Texas Rangers, who saw their 10-game winning streak sail away like the four home runs the Detroit Tigers hit off A.J. Griffin.
Their third baseman is nearing a rehab assignment, and his return to the lineup for the first time since last season will provide momentum and boost confidence.
Maybe not as much as the fourth-longest winning streak in club history, but it won’t hurt getting the future Hall of Famer back in the lineup.
Adrian Beltre ran the bases for the first time since April 8, when he suffered his current calf injury. He was trucking at only 50 or 60 percent, he said, but he also did all other baseball activities.
He could begin a rehab assignment next weekend and be back in the lineup by during the next homestand. Knowing him, he’ll push to return Memorial Day against the Tampa Bay Rays, but might be put on hold until June 2 against the Houston Astros.
But it looks like Beltre is coming, and what he did Saturday was a victory for the Rangers.
Here’s more Rangers Reaction from the 9-3 streak-buster Saturday night.
1. The Rangers were due for a stinker, for those who believe that all things come out even in the end, and the Tigers were willing to hand it to them and Griffin.
Griffin was a perfect 4-0 on the road and tossed a shutout in his last roadie, which, coincidentally, started the winning streak. He pushed his road scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings before the Tigers went homer, homer, homer.
That game wasn’t over at the point, but it pretty much was after Nicholas Castellanos launched a three-run homer for a 7-0 lead in the third.
It was just one of those games for Griffin, who can’t afford to fall behind hitters and can’t afford to have poor command. His batting-practice fastball doesn’t sneak past anyone if he can’t locate it or can’t throw his curveball for strikes.
He pitches with less margin for error, in other words, kind of like Colby Lewis the past three seasons.
There are similarities beyond a lack of velocity and their penchant for giving up home runs and cooling off with a Bud heavy.
Like Lewis did, Griffin knows how to pitch, going up and down and in and out. He knows how to find his outs, as Lewis did, and will navigate around certain hitters to get the right matchup.
Griffin also competes, though it’s hard to say anyone competed harder than Lewis.
When Griffin is on, he’s fun to watch just as Lewis was.
Griffin just wasn’t on Saturday.
2. Austin Bibens-Dirkx made a bid to remain on the roster on a long-term basis with 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in which he allowed one hit and two walks. One of hits two strikeouts, the first out he in the game, was of Miguel Cabrera.
He won’t be able to pitch for a few days, but the Rangers have an off day Monday and Alex Claudio if needed in long relief behind Yu Darvish on Sunday or Andrew Cashner on Tuesday.
What Bibens-Dirkx showed Saturday could also impact Claudio in another way. Even though he has already been working in late-game winning situations, this could now cement Claudio’s place in the seventh and eighth innings with Bibens-Dirkx looking like a capable long man.
The Rangers have as much confidence in Claudio as any reliever outside of Matt Bush. They don’t blink to put in his funky left-handed stuff when the matchups are right, and that doesn’t necessarily mean against just lefty hitters.
Bibens-Dirkx performance came in only his second big-league appearance, so the only evidence against him is an incredibly small sample size. But so far, so good, and what he did Saturday night was really good.
3. As the beat writers waited out Beltre to give his latest update, a couple of us took the time to catch up with Ian Kinsler, perhaps one of the most misrepresented players since I’ve been on the beat.
He didn’t help himself with that ESPN the Magazine story a few years ago, though if I had found out I had been traded via news accounts while on vacation in Hawaii, I’d probably not hold my former team in the highest regard.
But that was a long time ago, and Kinsler is beloved by the Detroit media, club officials and fans. He’s the Tigers’ spark plug, even though he’s off to a bit of a slow start this season.
He’s also a good teammate, which isn’t the image he has in Dallas-Fort Worth (he ticked off the wrong writers). In addition to that, Kinsler has donated items each of the four years of the Do It For Durrett events.
As I walked into the Tigers’ clubhouse Saturday and as he spoke with Mike Heika of the Morning News, without breaking conversation Kinsler handed me an autograph bat of his and one of Cabrera.
Everyone at Globe Life Park on June 16 will have a chance to bid on those bats and all the items in the silent auction that is part of the Do It For Durrett Goes Yard.
Kinsler falls right in line with other for Rangers — Derek Holland, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Scott Feldman, Ron Washington, Mike Maddux — who all continue to help support DIFD.
And, like the others, Kinsler is a good guy despite what some might have written or said.