Texas Rangers

Jurado’s parents nearly saw their son lose, but a call was made to the baseball gods

Rangers starting pitcher Ariel Jurado works in the first inning. Jurado’s parents saw him pitch in the majors for the first time tonight. They came from Panama to watch the game. The Kansas City Royals play the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park Friday, May 31.
Rangers starting pitcher Ariel Jurado works in the first inning. Jurado’s parents saw him pitch in the majors for the first time tonight. They came from Panama to watch the game. The Kansas City Royals play the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park Friday, May 31. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Texas Rangers continued to move ever so slightly closer to the south side of Randol Mill Road on Friday night. There are 54 games remaining at Globe Life Park.

Fittingly, the Rangers welcomed back Matt Harrison, who wore No. 54, to peel of another day on the countdown sign in left field.

Harrison looks as if he could go out and pitch a few innings, though he said he hasn’t touched a ball since recurring back injuries forced him to retire after the 2016 season. He last pitched in 2015.

That was only four seasons ago, yet Harrison said that he played with only four current Rangers -- Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo.

That’s a lot of turnover, but speaking of Gallo ...

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

1. Chris Woodward puts a lot of faith into the baseball gods, and on Friday night said a little prayer in the sixth inning.

Ariel Jurado had just pitched his tail off as his parents watched him for the first time since he signed with the Rangers as an international free agent. He pitched well enough to win but was down 2-0 when he exited.

That’s when Woodward looked to the baseball gods for some runs. He wanted Jurado to get the win in front of his folks.

“I was hoping for three,” Woodward said. “We got six.”

Three relievers tossed a scoreless inning apiece to ensure that Jurado got the win in front of Ariel Sr. and Yizel Jurado, who finally made the trek from Panama to Globe Life Park to watch their son.

They would have come last season, when he was a rookie, but they didn’t get their passports until after the season ended.

They saw a pitcher who throws with more conviction than a season ago and who has been one of the Rangers’ steadiest pitchers since he was recalled from Triple A Nashville in late April.

He made his third start of the season and should have been picking up his second win, but the Rangers blew a 5-1 lead his last time out. He is finding ways to limit damage, including via the strikeout, when he is in trouble but isn’t finding a ton of it.

“When he first came up, I thought maybe fewer innings might be a better role,” Woodward said. “He’s basically saying I can do that for 100 pitches, which is really impressive.”

It was a big night for Jurado to pitch well, and win, in front of his parents.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “It was very special for me.”

2. Gallo didn’t have his best night in the outfield, though he saved a spectacular diving catch for the game’s final out.

He completely misread a Whit Merrifield flyball that turned into a triple. Jurado bailed Gallo out by standing Merrifield at third.

Gallo also had a near collision with left fielder Hunter Pence and later banged into the center-field wall as Alex Gordon also tripled.

“I was standing out there and thinking, ‘Man, baseball kind of sucks sometimes,’” Gallo said.

But he found redemption with his bat as the Rangers finally solved Royals starter Danny Duffy. Blanked for five innings, the Rangers scored all six of their runs in the sixth as Duffy recorded only one out.

The last batter he faced was Gallo, who launched his first career grand slam 457 feet into the seats in right-center field.

“Things turned around quick,” he said. “That’s the way baseball goes.”

Two walks, including one taken by Danny Santana, were pivotal in the inning. The second came with the bases loaded as Nomar Mazara stuck with his approach long enough to force in the tying run.

Gallo was next, but the inning also including a left-on-left single by Choo, a two-strike RBI single by Andrus and an infield hit by Pence.

“That pretty much the epitome of what our offense could be and should be,” Woodward said. “Joey ends up getting a good pitch to hit and stays with his approach.”

Gallo hadn’t had an extra-base hit in the past six games and was in a 2-for-18 funk before hitting the Rangers’ third grand slam of the season.

3. For those of you just checking in for the weekend, the Rangers and Royals play an afternoon game Saturday. At 3:05 p.m., to be exact.

(That was news to Rangers Reaction.)

A right-hander is pitching, which means Odor has a good chance to play after sitting out against the left-handed Duffy. It’s been said many times before, including as recently as Wednesday, but Odor needs to get going.

Woodward didn’t call out Odor on Friday, but he candidly told the media that Odor can’t continue on the path he’s on. It’s leading him into a dead end, over and over again.

Changes have to be made, whether Odor wants to do them or not, because the same old same old isn’t working any more.

Odor should tell the hitting coaches what he thinks is wrong and what he thinks will work. The hitting coaches have given him multiple things to work on, but their suggestions haven’t clicked.

Woodward said that Odor needs to figure out something that will work. Woodward didn’t say, “or else.” But he didn’t need to.

Odor is nearing the end of his rope. The Rangers are continuing to hover around .500 despite his .161 batting average. He has had moments where he’s done some good, but far too many empty moments in between.

Woodward didn’t give Odor a deadline, but consider this:

Willie Calhoun said his left quad strain has responded to treatment better than expected, and he boldly said that he believes he could play now.

Saturday is the first day he can come off the 10-day injured list.

That’s not happening, but the end of his stay is closer than originally thought.

Calhoun will need a roster spot, and the Rangers want to keep an eight-man bullpen.

Odor might have only until Calhoun is ready before the Rangers have to make a decision on him.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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