Not a lot was happening Thursday afternoon with the Texas Rangers.
No fresh trades. No fresh faces. No fresh injuries.
Not a ton of news.
It was kind of nice coming off the trade deadline.
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But the Rangers did plenty with their bats against the Baltimore Orioles and former Rangers/TCU pitcher Andrew Cashner, who allowed 10 runs in 1 2/3 innings.
It was that kind of night, and the Rangers were on the good side of one of those for a change.
Every batter collected a hit and scored a run. The Rangers collected season-highs in runs (17), hits (18), doubles (seven) and walks (13).
“It’s definitely a fun game when everyone is hitting like that,” outfielder Joey Gallo said.
And then there was Rougned Odor’s game.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 17-8 victory.
1. As the old saying goes, if you watch baseball long enough, you might see a player walk four times in four innings, hit a homer the next time up and then walk again.
Or something like that.
Odor did just that, and it was the first time in MLB history for a player to walk five times, with none of them being intentional, and hit a home run in a nine-inning game.
He took walks in each of his first four plate appearances and a fifth in the eighth, raising his season total to five. We kid here at Rangers Reaction.
The point, though, is that Odor has never been confused for a patient hitter. His career-high for walks in a season is 32, actually set during his lousy 2017 campaign.
He’s at 27 walks and 11 homers after his big night. Barring something unforeseen, Odor will shatter his walks mark during what is turning into the most meaningful season by a Rangers player.
He’s not going to lead the team in homers and probably won’t lead in average, on-base percentage or slugging percentage. But the Rangers needed this rebirth at the plate, assuming it lasts, more than anything else as they launch into a rebuild.
The walks are an indication that it’s going to last, or not get too much worse. The hard contact he made repeatedly in July is another sign, as he appears to have locked into an approach of laying off the pitches he chased last season.
Odor posted a .341/.410/.625 slash line in July and was selected as the club’s Player of the Month. He’s at .267/.348/.451 after his 79th game Thursday.
He will finish with around only 125 games, thanks to a groin strain that cost 27 games in April and May. But everything suggests he will have had a solid season, and that will go down as the most significant individual season on the roster.
2. Missing from all the fun at the plate, yet again, was right fielder Nomar Mazara, whose sprained right thumb is painful when he hits and even more painful when he tries to play catch.
He was injured July 14 at Baltimore, and initially the injury wasn’t thought to be too serious. But Mazara remains on the 10-day disabled list 2 1/2 weeks later with no indication that he is close to being activated.
Is it time to worry that the Big Chill might be put on ice because of the thumb?
“I don’t look at it as any cause for alarm,” manager Jeff Banister said. “There’s always concerns at things linger, but it’s gotten better. It comes down to getting the strength back in the thumb.
“I haven’t been given any input from our medical staff that would raise any more concern.”
Mazara played catch Monday in Arizona and said that he barely got through it. He couldn’t make back-handed catches at all. Hitting isn’t as bad, but it’s not great.
So, Shin-Soo Choo and Gallo, another player whose development is high on the Rangers’ priority list, have been manning right field adequately. Gallo made a diving catch in the sixth to rob Mark Trumbo of a two-run double that would have brought the Orioles with in 13-7.
The Rangers know that Gallo can play multiple positions. They need to know if he’s going to make more contact and make adjustments to hit the ball to left field.
He went 3 for 5 with a homer and a walk Thursday to give him a slash line of .193/.308/.467. He finished last season at .209/.333/.537, so he has some work to do the rest of the way.
But he’s been better so far in the second half, with his OBP and SLG significantly higher. He might not be trending the right way as sharply as Odor, but Gallo is trending the right way.
3. Just a hunch, but I’m guessing Eddie Butler thought his first career save would come in a one-run nail-biter. Of course, seeing that he was groomed as a starter throughout the minors, he might have never thought about his first career save.
But he has it now after allowing three runs — all in the ninth — in 3 2/3 innings in relief of Yovani Gallardo (6-1). Butler entered with the Rangers leading 13-5.
“I’ll take them however I can get them,” Butler said. “I’m excited to get that. I’m excited to pitch.”
While it appeared that he was mopping up, which he was, there was purpose behind Banister opting to use only Butler out of the bullpen. The Rangers want to find a way to stretch him out for possible starts at some point the rest of the season, and allowing him to throw 56 pitches is a step in that direction.
As Banister explained it, with starters like Gallardo, Mike Minor, Ariel Jurado and Bartolo Colon, there will be a lot of innings for relievers to eat. The Rangers can plan out when they will use Butler, Matt Moore and Jeffrey Springs, the other two relievers who can work multiple innings.
Butler, though, is the only one of that trio with a chance to start in 2019, and the Rangers have a need for starters. Gallardo could be auditioning the rest of the season, too.
He doesn’t fit the rebuild profile, but the young arms the Rangers have — Jurado, Yohander Mendez, Taylor Hearn, Joe Palumbo and Jonathan Hernandez — might not be ready to open 2019 and Gallardo likely would come on the cheap.
He struggled with his command and allowed his first runs in three starts, but he could afford to pitch to the score. The Rangers know what they’re going to get from him, and it’s always good to have veterans around young guys.
Will it happen? Well, it wouldn’t be the worst signing this team has ever made.