Woodward: Lynn, 5-0 win vs. Astros help set a tone
The All-Star Game is no All-Star break for the players selected for the Midsummer Classic, as Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo now knows.
Players get shuttled from one off-the-field event to another until the are shuttled to the field Monday and Tuesday. Most catch a private plane back home after the game, arriving well after midnight.
“I wouldn’t call it a break. One day,” Gallo said. “We did more there than in a normal season. I barely had time to see my parents. It was definitely busy. But it was a cool experience. Wasn’t much of a break.”
Gallo spent the All-Star break last year in the Mexican resort town of Cabo, which he acknowledged is no Cleveland. But he will take being in the All-Star Game every year.
“Cabo was probably a little more personally fun, but baseball-wise Cleveland was really fun,” Gallo said. “I’ll save Cabo for the off-season.”
Good choice. Just ask Tony Romo.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a second half-opening 5-0 victory over the Houston Astros.
Lance Lynn pitched well enough to be on the American League All-Star team, and he hinted that he though as much last weekend at Minnesota.
Informed that many in the Rangers fan base were having the conversation that Lynn should have been Mike Minor’s replacement, Lynn said, “That’s a good conversation to have.”
By then, though, he was committed to his mini-vacation and to pitching the Rangers’ first game after the All-Star break.
Maybe his performance against the Astros, during a national broadcast, was his way of showing those who snubbed him who badly they messed up. But he needed to correct some mechanical problems before he could adequately do that.
“Just slowed down,” Lynn said. “A couple extra days off after the break, that will happen. I just slowed it down after the second and got in a good rhythm.”
Lynn struck out 11, tying his season high, and scattered six hits and two walks over seven scoreless innings. He touched 98 mph to strike out Robinson Chirinos to end the second inning.
The right-hander piled up 110 pitches, so he was pretty efficient after throwing 59 pitches the first three innings. Jose Leclerc and Chris Martin worked the eighth and ninth to finished the combined shutout and ensure Lynn’s 12th victory of the season.
Manager Chris Woodward had no issues pushing Lynn past 100 pitches for the 10th consecutive start.
“That’s something that he prides himself on,” Woodward said. “I think if he were pitching back in the ‘70s or ‘80s, he’d probably go 170 pitches.”
Lynn seemed to understand the magnitude of the start. The Rangers are trying to get themselves into the thick of the playoff picture, and they have a difficult schedule leading to the trade deadline.
Woodward wanted to set a tone for the second half. Lynn was ready to make that happen.
“That’s why I lined myself up to start it,” he said.
First and foremost
The Rangers returned to the formula that made them so successful in June, and the formula the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins used to deflate the Rangers going into the All-Star break.
They scored first and padded that lead.
Shin-Soo Choo, to the surprise of no one, got things rolling with a leadoff walk and went to second on a Delino DeShields double. Elvis Andrus drove in Choo with a groundout, and DeShields raced home two batters later as Gallo doubled off of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
Rougned Odor collected the biggest hit, a two-run double with two outs.
The Rangers scored only one more, in the third on a single by catcher Jeff Mathis, but the damage was done.
“If we come out and start off the way we did, have a game plan against a guy and execute, and then we have our guy go out and do what he did, we’re going to give ourselves a lot of chances to win games,” Woodward said.
Framber Valdez started for the Astros but didn’t get out of the first inning. The Rangers missed a chance for more damage in the third against reliever Cy Sneed.
Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, who start Friday and Sunday for the Astros, are no Cy Sneed. If the Rangers get chances against those two All-Stars, they can’t miss them.
Help in Double A?
The Rangers aren’t going to rush the hard-throwing relief trio currently tearing up the Texas League with Double A Frisco, but they could provide the Rangers one way to improve the bullpen the rest of the season.
Demarcus Evans and Joe Barlow haven’t shown much, if any, decline single their promotions last month from High A Down East, and Emmanuel Clase continues to wow with a 100-mph heater.
Each right-hander is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, so they will be going on the 40-man roster at some point before then. The Rangers could do it in September, but they could also do next month.
The bullpen continues to search for dependable arms after Shawn Kelley, Leclerc and Martin. Rookies who started the season in A ball — Clase started at Low A Hickory — would take their lumps, but their utter dominance the past two seasons at various levels suggests they might not be exposed too badly by MLB hitters.
A promotion of one of them would be similar to what the Rangers did in 2009 with Neftali Feliz. They were fringy contenders who didn’t make a big splash at the trade deadline, despite their efforts to acquire Roy Halladay, and called up Feliz as reinforcement.
That worked out pretty well. Though 10 years ago (man, that’s hard to believe), Daniels has made the Feliz comparison and might think it’s worth a shot.
What could hurt?