A wise beat man once strongly recommended to not miss any of my kids’ birthdays while covering the Texas Rangers, even if it means missing out on a trip to Yankee Stadium.
Alas, that’s what will happen this weekend, when the boy turns 6.
That means Stefan Stevenson will return temporarily from the Dallas Cowboys beat, assuming he doesn’t miss his flight, doesn’t get lost or doesn’t eat himself into a food coma between now and the start of the four-game series Thursday.
All are possibilities.
However, if he makes it, he will be a lot easier to follow on Twitter than Wednesday’s game was on Facebook.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 11-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
1. The seven-game homestand the Rangers just completed might be remembered as the stretch of games where Joey Gallo saved his season.
Granted, the Rangers have 46 games remaining, and Gallo should play the vast majority of them. There is time for things to go the other way.
But they went his way against Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, as he batted .379 with five homers and 11 RBIs. The hot stretch raised his average to .202.
That’s an improvement of 15 points since the All-Star break, so it hadn’t been only the homestand. In the 16 second-half games, Gallo has hit nine home runs.
However, “even the line drives are finding the grass,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Gallo had a biggish second half last season, which fueled expectations for 2018. He hit the ball more to left field, something that he has yet to do so far in the second half.
But he’s making more contact, continues to draw walks and continues to see pitches even when he isn’t walking. Those are all indicators that what has the start of a turnaround could be sustained.
Gallo said that he can’t point to any one thing that has made the difference for him, other than perhaps luck. His swing is flatter when he’s going well, and his swing is continuing to develop.
Keep in mind that Gallo is only 24. Players are allowed to get better.
“I think I’ve just been swinging the bat a little better,” he said. “I don’t really attribute it to anything. Things have been going my way. That’s all.”
Gallo singled in a run in the first inning, knocked a two-run homer in the third and muscled a ball out down the right-field line to start the fifth.
Both homers came off left-hander Marco Gonzales, giving Gallo an MLB-best 12 this season vs. lefties. That’s the most by a Rangers lefty hitter since Rafael Palmeiro hit 15 in 2003.
He wasn’t the only lefty hitters to have success against port-siders. Rougned Odor had two hits, Ronald Guzman had three and Willie Calhoun had two as lefty hitters went 9-for-15 with five extra-base hits.
“I face them so much I better learn to hit them or I’m not going to have a job,” Gallo said. “I don’t really mind the lefties.”
Another lefty hitter could be back on the next homestand.
2. Nomar Mazara will begin a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Round Rock, and he could return to the Rangers’ lineup early next week if all goes well with his sprained left thumb and his legs adjusting to playing again.
And when that happens ...
“We’ll have some decisions to make,” Banister said.
A player will have to be optioned off the roster to make room for Mazara, and Calhoun and Guzman are two candidates. Drew Robinson could go when Delino DeShields is activated from the seven-day concussion list, and that could happen as soon as Friday.
Calhoun is a candidate because he will no longer have a place to receive regular at-bats. Guzman could go because Jurickson Profar has become a must in the lineup every day at Guzman’s expense. He had also been slumping before Wednesday.
When Mazara becomes active, there will only be about three weeks left in the minor-league season. But that’s three weeks of daily at-bats, flyballs and grounders the optioned player would be guaranteed to receive.
The Rangers are still developing players, and letting a young player sit for three weeks and September — just because rosters expand doesn’t mean there’s more playing time — isn’t very development-friendly.
The guess here is Calhoun is on the wrong end of a tough decision.
“The really good part about where we’re at right now is they’ve earned the right to be talked about and have accepted the challenge of being in a rotation,” Banister said.
3. Yovani Gallardo allowed two runs in six innings for the win, his MLB-leading seventh since June 23. As always, the Rangers’ offense gave him ample support, though he allowed only two runs in six innings for his MLB-best seventh win since June 23.
“I’m the same guy I’ve been throughout my career,” Gallardo said. “It’s just going out there and competing and giving the guys a chance to win.”
The veteran right-hander continues to make a favorable impression for the starter-thin Rangers, who will have four vacancies in the rotation to fill in the off-season. Mike Minor is the only starter under contract for 2019.
Rookie righty Ariel Jurado will follow Gallardo on Thursday to open a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. He’s been effective in his two starts since being recalled from Double A Frisco, commanding his sinker, throwing strikes and showing a steady demeanor on the mound.
That composure might be tested by the New York Yankees, who employed Jurado’s fellow Panamanian, Mariano Rivera, for 19 seasons and who routinely play before large crowds.
Jurado said it will be an honor to pitch there.
But it’s his latest audition for the 2019 rotation.
“I will try to do my job the rest of the season,” Jurado said. “They can see what I can do, but it’s not my decision.”
Rangers Reaction went with Minor, Jurado, Martin Perez, Eddie Butler and Edinson Volquez a few days ago for a way-too-early prediction for next season’s rotation, as trades and free agency aren’t taken into consideration.
Gallardo just missed the cut — his ERA with the Rangers is 4.97 — but it seems like he will warrant consideration.