The sun finally decided to come out Monday at Globe Life Park in the first inning, but only after a first-pitch temperature of 75 degrees was announced.
The sun didn’t shine for long. It hasn’t shone on Shin-Soo Choo most of the season.
Each summer seems to be graced with at least one of these weather days, though the forecast for the rest of the week suggests that more of the cool and wet stuff is in order.
All baseball teams each summer seem to go through what the Texas Rangers’ offense went through for 21 innings entering Monday and the first three innings against the Oakland A’s.
The 2009 and 2013 Rangers were bit by scoring droughts in September, but they flourished in September last year. Choo was the catalyst as the best player in the league over the final month.
No such luck this time around.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Monday’s 5-2 win.
1. Choo played his 45th game this season Monday and left it batting .247. His on-base percentage was more than acceptable at .369.
He was never able to get any sustained rhythm between his previous three stints on the disabled list. He was stretching in the outfield at Angel Stadium during batting practice April 9 when he strained his right calf and missed more than a month.
Choo returned from the calf strain May 20 only to strain his left hamstring in his first game back. He found the DL again July 20 because of a lower back strain.
The April 9 game was also when catcher Robinson Chirinos broke his right arm when Garrett Richards plunked him. The Choo fracture is said to be similar to Chirinos’, and that one required surgery.
Chirinos missed two months.
The Rangers have 42 games remaining over the next 48 days. Maybe Choo can get back for the last few games of the regular season, log some at-bats, get his timing back, and be ready for a potential postseason series.
He’ll know more Tuesday after a visit with Dr. Keith Meister. Time, though, isn’t on his side.
2. The Rangers have two holes to fill for however long Choo is out: the leadoff spot and right field. The good news is they have options.
Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields all have time atop the lineup, and Profar and DeShields could become part of a leadoff platoon in left field. Profar is a switch-hitter but does his best work batting left-handed.
Odor brings power to the top of the order, and Banister is a big fan of the leadoff homer. Odor, of course, almost never walks, but with the way the bottom of the lineup has produced this season, he could be in a position to be a run producer later in games.
Right field can easily be solved by moving Nomar Mazara there and spelling him on occasion with Carlos Beltran. Beltran, who has mostly been at designated hitter since he was acquired from the Yankees, played right field Monday and still has a strong arm despite not having the range he once did.
Beltran also has a desire to play more in the outfield, and he seems like a shoo-in to be in right field in the two games next week at Cincinnati that won’t have the DH.
So, more Beltran is another possible route Banister can take for filling in for Choo, but Mazara’s young legs might prevail.
The good news is the Rangers have options.
3. Martin Perez often says that he doesn’t care where he pitches, but the numbers indicate that he does care. Globe Life Park has been his happy place.
The left-hander allowed two runs in seven innings to improve to 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA in home games this season. That’s the lowest home ERA in the American League.
He endured a bumpy first few innings, including an error on the first play of the game that led to an unearned run and a homer on the second pitch of the second inning.
Perez was at 27 pitches after one inning, but at 91 after seven. Quick outs, many on the ground, and six strikeouts were part of arguably his best outing of the season.
He leaned on his changeup, which catcher Jonathan Lucroy called “an equalizing pitch.”
“I used it a lot,” Perez said. “It’s my best pitch, and when you face a team like Oakland that’s aggressive and likes to swing, you have to use your best pitch.”
Perez’s next start with be on the road, where he is 1-7 with a 6.00 ERA. That needs to change. Maybe Lucroy is the answer.
“The thing that Jonathan does, he pays attention to what each individual pitcher has that night and utilizes it to the best of their ability,” manager Jeff Banister said. “The influence comes with the confidence to throw what Jonathan is asking these guys to throw in any given count.”