Texas Rangers

Rangers, Orioles needed 48 minutes for first inning. Here’s what went right ... and wrong

Delino DeShields greets Rougned Odor at home plate after Odor connected for a three-run homer in the first inning.
Delino DeShields greets Rougned Odor at home plate after Odor connected for a three-run homer in the first inning. AP

On a day of riveting college football (Army at Michigan, Texas A&M at Clemson, Nebraska at Colorado, LSU at Texas), here’s a rundown of the first inning Saturday night at Camden Yards:

It took 48 minutes to be played.

Nine runs scored. Three were unearned.

Two errors, both of them very silly, were committed.

One umpire, Jim Reynolds, was smart enough to quit halfway through. He might have broken his arm, but he saw an opening and took it.

The pace picked up, though the damage had been done.

To the pace of play and by the Texas Rangers.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 9-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

First things first

The good news for the Rangers is that they scored the first six of those nine first-inning runs. Their first six batters reached, albeit one on an error and all six came home.

Rougned Odor delivered the knockout blow, a three-run homer. He added doubles in two of his next three at-bats.

Problem solved!

On the flip side, the Rangers quickly gave away half of their lead. Danny Santana, who had a two-run single in the first, threw a ball into right field as he tried to start a double play.

That put opener Jonathan Hernandez in a tough spot, and only one of the three Orioles runs was earned.

Maybe those runs were a blessing in disguise for the Rangers, who have a history of putting their bats away after taking big early leads.

They kept chopping away and kept the cushion comfortable on a bullpen day that saw the return of a left-hander who missed most of the season.

Mendez is back

A healthy Yohander Mendez likely would have pitched for the Rangers this season in April, but his elbow didn’t cooperate in spring training.

Mendez didn’t need surgery, which was a relief. The Rangers thought he might be back shortly after the All-Star break instead of the first week of September, but he’s finally back.

He worked 2 1/3 innings, surrendering a solo home run but striking out six and picking up his third career victory.

“I’m glad to be back to the team,” Mendez said. “I always try to do the best I can and see the results.”

His fastball hit 95 mph, and he had command of all his pitches except the one Rio Ruiz launched in the fourth.

Mendez has to do more of that. It wouldn’t hurt if he did it as a starting pitcher, even if for only a few innings the next time the Rangers decide to go with a bullpen day.

He’s fourth on a four-man list of left-handed candidates for the 2020 rotation, behind Kolby Allard, Brock Burke and Joe Palumbo.

Palumbo needs to pitch this month, and he has thrown the past two days without a bandage on the blister on his left thumb. There’s still time for him to sneak in two starts this season.

Choo’s glove act

Shin-Soo Choo is no Roberto Clemente in right field, and the advanced metrics say he’s one of the worst in baseball. But he made three nice defensive plays that aided Rangers pitchers.

Two of the catches were sliding grabs to his right, including one that robbed Chris Davis of a hit. The third was a popup he grabbed near the tarp in foul territory in the sixth, an inning that saw the Orioles load the bases with two outs against Jeffrey Springs.

Choo’s catch was the first out. He also made the last out with a routine catch.

As much as the Rangers have said the past few seasons that Choo would be the primary designated hitter, he made his 74th start in the outfield Saturday. He has slumped at the plate in the second half, but he has been healthy all season and still reaches base better than any hitter outside of Joey Gallo this season.

Choo has one season left on his seven year, $130 million contract. After that, retirement could be looming.

Fans might not miss the contract, but Choo will be missed.

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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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