Matt Garza went back to the hill in the 9th inning with a shot at a complete game shutout, however, after a leadoff opposite-field HR from Eric Hosmer, he was lifted in favor of Joe Nathan. Nonetheless, his 8-plus innings of 1-run ball proved to be enough on Saturday night, as Texas defeated Kansas City, 3-1, keeping them even in the loss column with the Indians, who tonight were victorious as well.
Garza, the most prized starting pitcher on the trade market this July, clearly has not been what everyone expected him to be since arriving to Arlington. Entering Saturday, his ERA with the Rangers was 4.94 in 71.0 innings; in the exact number of frames with the Cubs, his ERA was 3.17.
Still, he was money on Saturday, going 8-plus and allowing only 1 run on 5 hits, walking 1 while striking out 5. These are desperate times for the Rangers, so even if the Cubs won July’s trade in an avalanche, we’ll take just about anything positive Matty is willing to give us in the meantime. Tonight is the second start Matt Garza has gone so far as 8 innings with the Rangers — the other being on August 3rd — though that time he allowed 4 earned runs. Saturday against the Royals was unquestionably his best and most critical start of 2013.
The offense chimed in as well. I mean, I use the term “offense” liberally given how poor the Rangers have been in that department of late, and “chimed in” pretty appropriately. They scored 3 runs.
After Kins grounded out to begin the 3rd, Andrus and Alex Rios drew successive walks to put runners on 1st and 2nd (naturally) with one out. Adrian Beltre followed by serving a base hit to center to score Elvis, and A.J. Pierzynski then hit a sacrifice fly to score Rios. There, ladies and gentlemen, was the Rangers scoring for the night.
The win moves the Rangers to 84-70 on the year, still a half-game behind Cleveland for the 2nd wild card spot, though the two teams remain even in the loss column, meaning Texas still controls its own destiny as far as the playoffs are concerned. Should the two teams remain tied they would meet each other in a one-game play-in to give themselves the right to play in the real play-in game in Tampa Bay. Weird, I know.
Anyway, tomorrow is the last road game of the 2013 season. Alexi Ogando will start for the Rangers where he will likely be limited to the same 65-75 pitch limit he experienced his last time out. The Royals will counter with James Shields.