Texas Rangers

‘Oh my gosh, that was a huge win for our ballclub.’ Here’s what may be bigger for Rangers

Chris Woodward discusses Smyly and Miller

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward on the rough outings by Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller in Sunday's loss to Oakland.
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Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward on the rough outings by Drew Smyly and Shelby Miller in Sunday's loss to Oakland.

Anyone who travels regularly knows that days like the one Sunday, when my flight to Boston was canceled, are going to happen.

Rain caused havoc at DFW Airport, though no one was injured. Worse things were caused by that storm that raced through the Metroplex.

But delays stink, especially after six hours at the airport and half of those on an airplane that lacked sufficient air conditioning. It was so hot that, after finally pulling away from the gate, an infant needed medical care.

That led to a flight cancellation, two hours trying to find my luggage, and a 6 a.m. Monday flight here though Philadelphia.

And, just to rub some salt into the wound, I was forced to miss an Orangetheory class.

That’s really unforgivable.

All that matters in the end is that the baby appeared to be OK and I made it to Fenway Park on Monday with about 20 minutes to spare before the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse opened.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox.

1. In terms of quality of wins, that one would have ranked highly if it had been against the Baltimore Orioles or Miami Marlins instead of the reigning World Series champions.

But because the Rangers’ victory was against the Red Sox, maybe not as mighty as a season ago but still an upper-level club, it might rank as the best of the season.

The Rangers won a game at Fenway Park for the first time since July 5, 2016. They won a game started by Chris Sale. They won a game they trailed after eight innings and also saw their closer blow the lead in the ninth.

For those who don’t think it’s too early to look at the wild-card standings, the Rangers beat the team they are competing with for the second wild-card spot.

But if it’s not too early too look at the standings, yeah, that was a big one.

“Oh my gosh, that was a huge win for our ballclub,” manager Chris Woodward said. “As the course of the season goes on, you’re trying to create an identity about your ballclub, and the players create that identity. Those players have embraced that belief that we are a good team and we are on the path hopefully to becoming a great team.”

The Rangers need to beat teams like the Red Sox, Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins if they are going to be contenders. They need to win on the road, or at least break even.

They need to win more games like they did Monday, and Tuesday would be a good start. Wednesday or Thursday would work, too. What good is the Monday win if they can’t validate it with another here?

No team is perfect, and the Rangers certainly are not. They believe they are good, and wins like the one Monday will only bolster their belief.

Validating on Tuesday would go a long way, too.

2. Mike Minor had been seeking more efficiency in his starts, and he found it against the Red Sox. After throwing a season-high 117 pitches Wednesday in 5 2/3 innings, the throw 109 in eight innings Monday.

Minor hasn’t been pitching poorly -- he didn’t allow any runs Wednesday -- but he hasn’t been going as deep in games as he prefers. Eight innings is more like it, in his mind.

However, he doesn’t think he pitched well against the Red Sox.

“It wasn’t that great,” Minor said. “A couple good pitches when guys were on base, and then I don’t know how I got through it.”

The only pitch Minor felt was effective for him was his slider. His changeup wasn’t any good, his fastball location was only average, and his curveball was nonexistent.

The defense behind him was very good, especially shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Rougned Odor. Maybe infield coach Tony Beasley has them positioned perfectly, Minor said.

“I felt like I got lucky,” he said. “They hit some hard ground balls right at our guys.”

Maybe, but Minor stood toe to toe without his best stuff against one of the best pitchers in the game, fellow left-hander Sale. The Red Sox’s lineup includes the reigning American League MVP and the third-place finisher.

There was Minor, finishing off the eighth inning despite trailing 2-0 after two hitters. He was in line for the win after the Rangers scored two in the top of the ninth. Shawn Kelley blew the save, but Andrus drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th.

And Minor wasn’t very good, or so he said.

“It was 2-0 after the first two hitters,” Woodward said. “He went eight after that and gave us a chance to win the game. He pretty much outdueled their guy. I know their guy is pretty good, but he didn’t go out. Our guy did. You can’t say enough about him.”

3. Drew Smyly’s days as a starter look to be numbered, though that has been said previously here. Woodward was also not totally discouraged with the way the left-handed threw Sunday in giving up five runs in three innings.

Something to potentially build upon, Woodward said. That’s something that has been said previously, too.

There seemed to be more oomph behind Woodward’s revelation that he, pitching coach Julio Rangel and Smyly will sit down and talk seriously about how to move forward. An athletic trainer might be in there, too, to talk to Smyly about his left ankle.

Putting him on the injured list would get Joe Palumbo back to the roster Friday against the Cincinnati Reds. Woodward said that the Reds would be a good matchup for Smyly, so the same would figure to hold true for Palumbo.

Club brass is starting to think more like this season isn’t a full-blown rebuild. The Rangers already removed Shelby Miller from the rotation and are considering doing the same with Smyly.

The ninth inning needs to be resolved.

A couple of hitters need to find their A swings. Shoot, a C swing would be an upgrade.

The offense, though, is good enough. The bullpen has options. The rotation doesn’t have many, and Smyly isn’t an attractive one right now.

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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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