Texas Rangers

Rangers content to let club contend for wild card berth

Adrian Beltre's three-run homer tied the game and moved ahead of Carl Yastrzemski in the all-time homer list

Adrian Beltre tied the game with a three-run homer in the sixth, which moves him into sole possession of 38th all-time with 453 homers (Video by Stefan Stevenson).
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Adrian Beltre tied the game with a three-run homer in the sixth, which moves him into sole possession of 38th all-time with 453 homers (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

The Texas Rangers have been here before. Under .500 as the season’s second half begins but somehow brimming with confidence.

General manager Jon Daniels, on the road with the team at Kaufman Stadium for the opening series of the second half against the Kansas City Royals, stated the club’s view clearly.

“Our mindset is we expect to be in it, we’re going to act accordingly,” said Daniels before the Rangers beat the Royals 5-3 Friday night.

Daniels acknowledged, however, that the Rangers’ 10-game road trip against teams in wild card contention, including the Royals, Orioles and Rays, poses a good litmus test right out of the gate for the club’s second-half prospects.

How they do against three of the nine teams within four games of the two wild card spots could provide enough separation — in either direction — to help him decide what to do, if anything, at the trade deadline.

Doing nothing, Daniels suggested, could be the best move.

“It’s a congested field. When we look at the team lined up against the competition, we like our chances, on paper,” he said. “We’ve got to play well. The next two weeks … you don’t want to put too much in any short stretch of the season but the odds can change in a couple of weeks especially when you’re playing three of the teams in competition for the wild card. That can swing some things.”

A couple huge swings in momentum came Friday night. The Rangers were trailing 3-0 and without a hit through the first  5 1/3 innings by the Royals’ Jason Hammel before Elvis Andrus’ infield single broke up the no-hitter. After Nomar Mazara followed with a solid single to left, Adrian Beltre tied the game with a three-run homer. In the seventh, Mike Napoli pinch-hit for Joey Gallo with one on and belted a two-run homer to left to give the Rangers a two-run lead.

“There’s a genuine belief in this group … part of it’s touchy-feely from being around them, knowing what they’re capable of and the mindset and belief system in the clubhouse,” Daniels said. “And part of it’s more pragmatic, that we’re just a healthier group. We’re just healthier than we were early on. There’s no guarantee that’s here to stay. But I do think there’s reason to believe we’re going to play better.”

Martin Perez held the Royals to three runs over seven innings to earn the win Friday night at Kaufman Stadium (Video by Stefan Stevenson).

Part of that confidence comes from a healthy rotation finally pitching together. Martin Perez shook off a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole by Alcides Escobar in the second inning and held the Royals to three runs on eight hits over seven innings. It’s the first time Perez has gone seven innings since May 18.

“You go back to 2015 and more than the standings, that was what really informed our decision,” said Daniels of the club at the break in ’15 that was four games under .500 and in third place in the AL West and 10th in the wild card standings. That club finished 46-28 and won the West. “We had a group of players and a team that was in every game. There was no give-in, no roll over. I see a lot of the same thing right now. I see a team that’s had some emotional losses late in the game yet we’re back in it the next day. We’re getting competitive starts, we’re getting healthy.”

The bullpen, however, remains a question. Matt Bush continues to show improvement since being removed from the closer’s roll, including a perfect eighth Friday night. Alex Claudio pitched the ninth to earn his second save. Daniels is encouraged by the current trend.

“We probably have as many guys throwing the ball well now than we have at any point in the season,” he said. “Hopefully, we get Keone [Kela] back soon.”

With more outcomes like Friday night, doing nothing might be the best move.

“People assume you’re going to go one way or the other at the trade deadline but I also think there’s a distinct possibility that we just let this group play. There’s no mandate to do one or the other,” Daniels said. “We’re going to explore everything, but if the outcome is that this is our club and we let them play, if that’s the best option as we get to the end of the month, we’re comfortable with that.”

Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST

Texas

000

003

200

5

7

0

Kansas City

020

010

000

3

8

1

Texas AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Choo dh

5

0

0

0

0

0

.246

Andrus ss

5

1

1

0

0

0

.299

Mazara rf

4

1

1

0

0

1

.258

Beltre 3b

3

1

2

3

1

0

.292

Odor 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.217

Chirinos c

4

0

1

0

0

2

.220

Robinson lf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.214

Gomez cf

3

1

1

0

1

0

.249

Gallo 1b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.192

Napoli ph-1b

2

1

1

2

0

0

.197

Totals 35

5

7

5

3

5

 

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield 2b

4

1

2

0

0

0

.284

Bonifacio rf

4

0

2

1

0

0

.254

Cain cf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.272

Hosmer 1b

4

0

1

0

0

0

.318

S.Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

1

.286

Moustakas 3b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.273

Soler dh

3

1

0

0

0

1

.154

Escobar ss

3

1

1

2

0

0

.226

Gordon lf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.192

Totals 32

3

8

3

1

3

 

E—Hosmer (2). LOB—Texas 6, Kansas City 3. 2B—Merrifield (17), Bonifacio (12). HR—Beltre (8), off Hammel; Napoli (19), off Minor; Escobar (3), off M.Perez. RBIs—Beltre 3 (30), Napoli 2 (41), Bonifacio (28), Escobar 2 (29). DP—Texas 2.

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

M.Perez, W 5-6

7

8

3

3

1

1

89

4.55

Bush, H, 3

1

0

0

0

0

1

11

3.44

Claudio, S 2-4

1

0

0

0

0

1

7

2.70

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Hammel

5 2/3

4

3

3

2

4

108

5.02

Minor, L 5-2

1 1/3

2

2

2

0

1

22

2.22

Alburquerque

1

1

0

0

1

0

17

4.50

McCarthy

1

0

0

0

0

0

10

2.40

Inherited runners-scored—Minor 1-0. T—2:58. A—35,591 (37,903).

Rangers at Royals

6:15 p.m. Saturday, FS1

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