Texas Rangers

How an uncharacteristically off day for Chavez spelled doom for Rangers, his mustache

Chris Martin says bullpen riding wave of confidence

Texas Rangers reliever Chris Martin said the success the bullpen has been contagious between him, Jesse Chavez and Shawn Kelley.
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Texas Rangers reliever Chris Martin said the success the bullpen has been contagious between him, Jesse Chavez and Shawn Kelley.

Pete Fairbanks, the Texas Rangers rookie reliever, is from St. Louis and was showing his civic pride Wednesday afternoon in place where that might not have been the best idea.

Fairbanks was wearing a St. Louis Blues shirt before the Rangers-Boston Red Sox matinee ahead of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals a few miles away at TD Gardens. The Blues were standing in the way of the Boston Bruins and another Beantown championship.

Another cabbie predicted wild times later Wednesday if the Bruins were to prevail. Both Rangers scribes on the trip are planning to be safely tucked away in their hotel rooms by the time the game ends.

We’ll wake up to see if the city is in ruins.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 walk-off loss.

1. Jesse Chavez was ready to face the media after his lousy ninth inning, with a new face.

The right-hander took a razor to his mustache shortly after walking in Mookie Betts to force home the game-winning run in a ninth inning in which Chavez failed to retire a hitter.

The run ended a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless appearances for Chavez.

“What do you want to talk about, why I don’t have mustache anymore,” he said.

That prompted Shawn Kelley, a few locker down, to asked the first question.

“Did that come off before that guy walked in?” Kelley said.

Admit it: That’s funny.

Chavez was as accountable as always, saying he was nibbling to much rather than trusting the stuff he has had since finally getting the feel for his arm slot in early May. He didn’t allow a run last month in a variety of roles over varying lengths of appearances.

He has been the Rangers’ best reliever the past six weeks. What happened Wednesday -- a leadoff double, a bloop single and two walks -- doesn’t change that.

“Chavy has been unbelievable for us,” said manager Chris Woodward, who was once teammates with Chavez. “Sometimes you just get beat.”

2. Chavez, the leader of the bullpen and one of the team’s leaders, was pretty blunt when asked what it would mean for the Rangers to leave Fenway Park on Thursday with a series win against the Red Sox.

“That we’re for real,” he said.

It’s June and the general manager has said that it’s too early to think seriously about the postseason, but the Rangers believe the series finale is a big game.

The Rangers and Red Sox are wild-card contenders. That’s a surprise on both ends, with preseason expects set low for the Rangers and high for the defending World Series champs.

But that’s the reality as the Rangers approach the 70-game mark of the season.

The Rangers held a one-game lead for the second wild-card spot Monday, and have bumped it to two games.

“It’s important. This is a big game,” Woodward said. “To gain two gains on them, it’s important. Otherwise we split and we stay the way we started. It’s a huge swing game.

“Don’t shy away from it, take it head on, and do what we’ve done all year. That’s just take it to them, be prepared, don’t be surprised by anything, and battle. Our guys will be ready tomorrow.”

3. It’s that time of year again, when players selected earlier this month in the MLB draft begin signing with their first pro contracts.

For instance, the Kansas City Royals signed Bobby Witt Jr., the second overall pick from Colleyville Heritage High, on Wednesday for $7,789,000.

The Rangers announced the signing of 13 players, including third-rounder Justin Slaten, a right-hander from New Mexico via Longview ($575,000), and fifth-rounder Kellen Strahm, a center fielder from San Jose State ($205,000).

The three first-day draftees — Josh Jung (eighth overall), Davis Wendzel (41st overall) and Ryan Garcia (50th overall) — are unsigned but expected to be locked up before the July 15 deadline. Jung can’t sign until Texas Tech’s season ends.

Next up for the signees is a trip to Surprise, Ariz., where they will await their first assignments. The forecast high temperature for Thursday in Surprise is 110 degrees.

First-year players usually start their careers either in the Arizona Rookie League or at Short-Season A Spokane. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all, though, if the early-round college draftees finish their seasons with one of the full-season A clubs.

High A Down East won the first-half title in the Carolina League and will be in the postseason, and the Rangers might want some of their top prospects to experience a playoff atmosphere.

Anyhoo, these little draft updates should be fairly regular the next couple weeks. More fanfare will be given to Jung, Wendzel, Garcia and sixth-rounder Cody Bradford, the Baylor left-hander from Aledo.

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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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