Guzman: ‘It felt better when it hit the pole’
A pleasant surprise was waiting for the writers Friday as they plowed into manager Chris Woodward’s office before the game.
David Murphy was there ahead of his debut as a TV color analyst.
Murphy is a great guy, and was a good player and a terrific quote. The more he’s around the ballpark in this capacity, the better.
A confession: The volume on the TVs in the press box is always on mute, so I have no idea how he did. I assume great, because it’s Murphy.
He called a thrilling one between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 9-8 walk-off victory
Big homers, big singles
Too bad Justin Verlander wasn’t miked up as Joey Gallo was Thursday night.
This is just a guess, but the Astros’ ace might have said a thing or two about the baseballs being juiced after the teams combined for nine home run, one shy of the single-game mark at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers hit four home runs to start an inning, starting with Shin-Soo Choo’s 31st career leadoff homer. Danny Santana blasted one in the second (more on him shortly), Gallo did it in the fourth and Tim Federowicz started the seventh with one.
Ronald Guzman tied the game in the eighth with a two-run shot off the right-field foul pole to tie it.
“It felt really good,” Guzman said. “And it felt better when it hit the pole.”
Yet, the Rangers won the game by manufacturing a run.
Elvis Andrus singled with one out in the ninth and stole second base before Joey Gallo took a walk. Rougned Odor chased three pitches out of the strike zone before striking out, but Santana delivered the winning single just out of the reach of a diving George Springer in center field.
The line drive hit off Springer’s glove.
“When I saw Springer going after it, I thought, ‘Oh my god, I think he is going to catch it,’” Santana said. “I’m glad he didn’t.”
The Rangers ended up with 10 hits after collecting only five in six innings against Astros starter Gerrit Cole, who struck out 13. Three of the hits were homers.
The Rangers were down 8-4 in the seventh when they launched their comeback against one of the game’s top bullpens. They scored twice in the seventh against Will Harris, and Guzman’s homer came off Hector Rondon.
The winning run came against closer Roberto Osuna.
The win, the second straight to open the second half, moved the Rangers to 50-42 and ensured them of no worse than a split of the four-game series against the American League West leaders.
Right-hander Shawn Kelley, who tossed a perfect ninth inning to preserve the 8-8 tie, said the Rangers can’t step of the gas Saturday and Sunday. They know what’s at stake with the July 31 trade deadline coming.
“It’s a big test for us the next couple weeks,” he said. “No one’s oblivious that the trade deadline is coming in two weeks.”
Starter or reliever?
General manager Jon Daniels said a lot Friday afternoon in not revealing very much.
The Rangers might sell at the trade deadline, or they might not. They might do no buying or selling, or they might make trades that don’t do much to help the fortunes of the 2019 club.
He did say that if the Rangers choose to acquire help, they will address the pitching depth.
The first thought that came to mind was a reliever (or two) to add to the back of the bullpen. But acquiring a starting pitcher would accomplish that, too, by either keeping Adrian Sampson in the bullpen or by moving Jesse Chavez back to the bullpen.
The Rangers aren’t viewing Chavez’s starting assignment as temporary, even after he allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Sampson will return to the rotation once the Rangers need their fifth starter again later this month at Seattle.
As of mid-July, Daniels said that the Rangers don’t have immediate bullpen help in the minors, though the Double A Frisco trio of Emmanuel Clase, Joe Barlow and Demarcus Evans are on the Rangers’ radar.
Each is at a different point in his development, so there won’t be a line change coming.
A starter and a reliever would provide a huge boost, but two acquisitions might cost too many prospects for Daniels’ liking.
The Rangers have seen how competitive they are when they get quality starting pitching. That’s the route to take.
Woodward didn’t fully commit to Hunter Pence coming off the injured list Saturday, but that’s what he wants to see happen after Pence survived his first rehab game Thursday at Frisco.
Pence likely won’t be activated until Sunday, though, after going 0 for 4 Friday and wanting one more game.
He won’t play the outfield right away one he returns, meaning the outfield alignment could be Choo in left, Gallo in center and Nomar Mazara in right field.
The corresponding move to create a roster spot for Pence will likely be a surplus arm in the bullpen. Kyle Bird seems like a strong candidate to be optioned to Triple A Nashville.
But that’s only delaying a difficult decision that will face the Rangers (again) once they go back to five starters and need to replace Sampson in the bullpen. Either Delino DeShields or Willie Calhoun will draw the short straw.
That could go either way. DeShields has a strong argument to stay.
He is batting .326 since being recalled from Nashville on June 2, and Woodward has been using DeShields late in games as a defensive upgrade in center field. DeShields is also a candidate to pinch run.
He has the skill set of the kind of player winning teams have on their bench.
Don’t be surprised if he stays on the roster this time.