Ryan Rua found himself back on the Texas Rangers’ bench after his dutiful service as a lineup regular for much of the time during Shin-Soo Choo’s most recent stint on the disabled list.
Rua had started nine consecutive games and played in 19 games since May 22. In that span, he batted .370, had a .462 on-base percentage and slugged at .685.
His OBP, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.147) led the team in that span, and only Ian Desmond (.379) had a better batting average.
Rua’s glove and base running were better than in his previous two seasons. He hasn’t felt this comfortable at the plate since he was getting steady at-bats his first month in the majors in September 2014.
“I think playing regularly has helped me out,” said Rua, who homered the past two games. “My first month in 2014 was kind of the same thing. When I’m in there, I’m trying to do the best I can to help the team.”
He has been helping, and that’s why manager Jeff Banister said that Rua has earned the chance to not be stashed away on the bench and to play more often than simply against left-handers who aren’t a good matchup for one of the four left-handed hitters who Rua backs up.
The .404 average the righty-hitting Rua has against left-handers is too hard for Banister to ignore. Rua, though, will just wait until he sees his name in the lineup.
“That’s not something that’s up to me,” Rua said. “I’m just trying to control what I can control.”
The good news for the Rangers is that they have had multiple leads this season in which Banister felt safe enough to use a mop-up reliever late in the hopes of avoiding using winning pieces out of the bullpen.
The bad news is that his good intentions have been altered multiple times by ineffective work from long relievers, who allowed opponents to rally and forced Banister to use the closer.
Such was the case Tuesday night, when Alex Claudio was summoned for the ninth inning with a 10-4 lead but quickly surrendered two runs. Sam Dyson entered to get the final two outs.
Those unwanted appearances might catch up to Dyson or others later in the season, when the Rangers want them at their best.
“When we have that type of lead, the pitchers in the bullpen, their job is to keep the game away from those late-inning guys,” Banister said. “The bottom line is you don’t want to have to use those kind of guys in those situations.”
Nick Martinez was not a serious option for a number of reasons, including that he has been a starter all season and that wasn’t the spot for his first relief appearance. Tony Barnette also wasn’t an option even though he had warmed earlier in the game.
He’s part of the Rangers’ four-man formula with a lead or in a tied game.
Martinez said that he’s just glad to have the opportunity to be in the majors. He is a candidate to start Saturday at St. Louis, though the Rangers would like to see him get some work before then.
Former Rangers outfielder David Murphy, who retired from baseball in April, will be honored by the Rangers on June 24 in the opener of a three-game series against the team that drafted him, the Boston Red Sox.
The ceremony will also coincide with Baylor Night at Globe Life Park, and Murphy will throw out the first pitch.
The Rangers will honor Red Sox slugger David Oritz on June 25 during his final visit to Arlington before retiring at the end of the season. The Rangers will also honor the 1996 team that won the first division title in franchise history.
Lewis at Oakland
Right-hander Colby Lewis will start the series finale Thursday at Oakland Coliseum, where he made his big-league debut, won his first division title, blew out his arm and watched the Rangers blow a division title.
“We’ve celebrated,” Lewis said. “I’ve had some sad moments. But I feel like throughout my career against these guys, I’ve been decent.”
To that end, Lewis has four consecutive wins against the A’s and is 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA in his career at the Coliseum.