For a last-place baseball team, Sunday's 3-0 win over the Tigers sure seemed important to the Rangers.
In many ways it really was. Perhaps not because of the win, or for those larger team-goal reasons, but for the individual accomplishments of Shin-Soo Choo, which have taken on more of a team achievement vibe as his on-base streak continues.
Choo, if you haven't heard by now, reached on an infield single in his final at-bat with two outs in the ninth on Sunday to stretch his on-base streak to 47 games. That breaks a tie with Julio Franco for the single-season Rangers' record. It's also the longest such streak in the majors since Joey Votto had a 48-game streak in 2015. The last longer streak in the American League was Kevin Millar's 52-game stretch in 2007.
Choo, who learned he was an All-Star for the first time in his career before the game (although the news was embargoed until ESPN's selection show revealed the entire rosters), was moved by both accomplishments. He's the first Korean-born position players (and third Korean player overall) to earn an All-Star spot. The importance to fans in Korea is certainly not lost on Choo.
His teammates, including Adrian Beltre, were as excited (if not more) than Choo about the streak staying alive. And manager Jeff Banister called Choo's All-Star selection one of the "better things I've seen in baseball just for who he is as a human being and everything he does on a daily basis, not just for himself, but for his teammates also."
Choo has been playing with a sore right quadriceps muscle, too, which made the infield single in the ninth that much more precarious. Beltre and Rougned Odor led the dugout cheering Choo to leg it out. He did and there was no throw. Choo said the sprint to first didn't aggravate his leg and he'll be available to play in the July 17 mid-summer classic.
"It's very special for me, my family, and my country," Choo said. "I'm very excited. I can't wait."
Five quick hits from Sunday's 3-0 win:
1. Beltre ties Winfield — Adrian Beltre's career milestones have sort of taken a backseat to Choo's on-base streak, but that's mainly because Beltre went 2 for 16 in the four-game series in Detroit with two singles, no RBIs and four strikeouts. His eighth-inning single on Sunday was a big one, though. He tied Dave Winfield for 20th all-time with his 3,110 career hit. He now has 5,208 total bases, 13 shy of tying Winfield for 15th all-time.
2. Good sign for Mazara — Nomar Mazara had gone 13 games and 58 plate appearances without a walk until he drew a season-high three on Sunday. The only other time Mazara has walked three times in a game was July 23, 2017, at Tampa Bay. Mazara is 3 for his last 26 and his batting average has dropped from .282 to .269.
3. Shut it down — The Rangers threw just their second shutout on Sunday as Austin Bibens-Dirkx held the Tigers scoreless on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and a walk. Jose Leclerc and Jake Diekman combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Leclerc was especially dominant. He struck out five of the six batters he faced, including two with two on and one out when he replaced Bibens-Dirkx in the sixth. The other shutout came on May 11 at Houston when Cole Hamels (six innings) and the same three relievers combined on a one-hit masterpiece against the Astros.
4. Profar's quiet surge — Jurickson Profar extend his season-long hitting streak with a solo homer in the first inning. It's his ninth homer in 2018. He had a total of 12 homers in parts of four previous seasons. During his current stretch, Profar is batting .353 with four doubles, five RBIs and 10 runs scored.
5. 22 for Kela — Keone Kela has had an All-Star first half and he did it again on Sunday. The closer struck out two in a scoreless ninth to convert his 22nd save in as many chances. He has the most saves in the majors without a blown save. He's allowed four earned runs in his last 22 appearances (21 innings).