Rangers’ Allard had two choices Monday. He chose wisely
My buddy Jack lives and dies with the Texas Rangers, who are slowly fading away as the 2019 MLB season now has fewer than 40 games remaining.
He’s been hanging on their every game since 1972, so he’s seen a Rangers team or 20 take this route. But even Jack had seen enough Monday night after six Los Angeles Angels hitters.
“What is the deal?” he texted.
It was a good question. At the time.
His mood improved, as did the Rangers chances.
“Beautiful!” Jack texted at around 11:50 p.m.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-7 victory Monday night in 11 innings.
Gutted, then gutty
Rookie left-hander Kolby Allard was down 5-0 after those first six Angels hitters. Albert Pujols smoked a three-run homer, Allard needed 38 pitches in the first inning.
It was 7-1 after two.
Yet, Allard finished five innings without any further damage, and, yes, gave the Rangers a chance to get back into the game.
The way Allard competed after allowing the seven runs (six earned) left a favorable impression on the Rangers.
“Kind of going out and getting his butt kicked in the first inning, going through a little adversity, and you see how he responded,” manager Chris Woodward said. “You see how he responded. He kept attacking. He made some changes after the second inning, and you could see the difference. It was pretty amazing to see a young kid like that not get rattled.”
Allard threw strikes in the first inning, just not quality ones. He started putting things together in the second, even though the Angels scored twice.
Allard struck out Mike Trout twice, which many other Rangers pitchers this season wish they could have done, and left the game having retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
The bullpen put together three scoreless innings as the Rangers rallied. Jose Trevino hit his first career homer, Scott Heineman drove in the first two runs of his career, and Hunter Pence and Rougned Odor drove in runs in the eight for forge a 7-7 tie.
The Rangers missed a chance in the ninth to win it, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa beat out a chopper off the plate and Trevino, who started the rally with a two-out walk, scored the winner.
The bullpen was great, but Allard wasn’t too shabby after a rough two opening innings.
“Obviously, it didn’t come out of the gate like we drew up,” Allard said. “When you do have that rough of a first inning, you have two options: It’s roll over or go back out there and battle your ass off.”
Solak plays second base and the outfield, and of late has played some right field. He is certain to be called up when roster expand Sept. 1, but he might not have to wait that long if Santana or Mazara need to go on the injured list.
With a doubleheader Tuesday, the Rangers will have to make a quick decision.
Santana insisted to Woodward that he can play. Mazara is believe to have the same injury as Joey Gallo in June, just not as severe.
“We’ll find out more tomorrow,” Woodward said. “We can’t really know until tomorrow, if they come in sore.”
The Rangers would be getting one of the hottest bats in the minors. Solak saw his 18-game hitting streak snapped because of his early departure, but is hitting .416 (32 for 77) with 17 runs and six homers in his past 19 games.
Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Pete Fairbanks trade, Solak is ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers’ No. 12 prospect.
Losing Santana would cost the Rangers one of their hottest hitters and possibly give Heineman, who was recalled Monday, more time at first base. Losing both Santana and Mazara would put more wheels in motion.
The Rangers could recall first baseman Ronald Guzman, who has a hit in seven of his past eight games, from Nashville or purchase the contract of Nashville infielder Matt Davidson, who has 28 home runs.
Solak and Davidson would need to be added to the 40-man roster spot, and the Rangers have only one opening after designating right-hander David Carpenter for assignment.
Naturally, everyone will be pining for Solak to unseat a certain second baseman.
That certain second baseman is Odor, who entered Monday batting .204 and was riding a 13-game streak with at least one strikeout. He also made a critical error that cost the Rangers the game Friday night against the Minnesota Twins.
Woodward continues to say positive things about Odor’s at-bats, and Odor made him look good with the game-tying single in the eighth inning.
For the most part, though, he has been coming up empty of late. But Woodward said Odor has narrowed his strike zone and has been swinging at quality pitches.
“He’s just got to be a little more efficient to squaring the ball up and putting them in play,” Woodward said.
Translation: Odor has to stop missing so many hittable pitches.
Woodward was then asked if he considers Odor, 25 but in his sixth MLB season, to be a young player.
“Yeah,” Woodward said. “Yeah.”
Woodward explained that he and the hitting coaches are asking Odor and others in his peer group to do things differently this season through swing tweaks and applying new analytical data.
By that measure, then, wouldn’t 36-year-old Pence be young? The 13-year veteran reinvented his swing in the off-season and has been taking in new data.
He took it all the way to the American League All-Star team.
The Rangers have been asking the young Odor to narrow his strike zone for three seasons running.
It seems like that would be getting old, doesn’t it?