Texas Rangers: On Deck-Baltimore Orioles

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 16: Elvis Andrus (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 16: Elvis Andrus (Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) /

The Texas Rangers head to Baltimore to continue their ten-game road trip. They’ll take on the struggling Orioles for the first time this year, coming off a series win in Kansas City.

The Texas Rangers had a fairly successful weekend against the Royals in a series dominated by pitching. They took the first two games riding the arms of Martin Perez and Cole Hamels, who dominated for his third straight outing.

The Rangers were no hit into the fifth inning of game one but a couple of singles brought Beltre to the plate and he tied the game up 3-3 with a single swing. They ended up winning 5-3.

The pitching was even better the next day, with both starters lasting at least into the eighth inning. Ultimately the Rangers came out on top thanks to some good old-fashioned small ball in the top of the ninth. A bloop single by Jonathan Lucroy led the inning off and Delino DeShields moved him over via the sacrifice bunt. Shin-Shoo Choo singled in Joey Gallo (pinch running for Lucroy) and that was all it took to give the Rangers the victory.

Unfortunately, the Rangers weren’t able to complete the sweep on Sunday. They had a chance to send it to extras but were unable to do so. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Lorenzo Cain sent what should have been a routine fly ball out to Choo in right. However, Choo lost a battle with the sun and the ball glanced off his glove. It fell harmlessly to the grass, plating the winning run.

That loss dashed their chances of surpassing .500 and they’ll head to Baltimore with a record of 45-46.

The Orioles have had their fair share of struggles recently. Since they last hit a .500 record back on June 29th, they’ve dropped 10 of their last 13 games. They looked like they might be turning things around as they won their last two games before the All-Star Break against the previously AL Central leading Twins.

But since the All-Star Break, it’s been nothing but heartache. After falling behind 8-0 to the Cubs in their first game back, the Orioles managed to claw their way back and tie the game up in the bottom of the eighth. After all that effort, they had to watch a ball rocket off the bat of Addison Russel and into the seats behind left center. The Orioles were unable to respond and the lost the game 9-8.

That home run seemed to suck the life out of Baltimore and they were lackluster the rest of the series. They lost the second game 10-3 and the final one 8-0. They hope to bounce back against the Texas Rangers on Monday.

Here’s how the series looks to play out:

Monday, July 17 (Cashner vs. Tillman)

Andrew Cashner will get the first run at the Orioles as he takes the mound Monday night. Cashner has been solid pretty much the whole year. There’s nothing flashy about him. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball or a dizzying curveball. He’s not gonna strike a ton of guys out but he’s consistent.

He has a respectable 3.54 ERA on the year and he does a good job of pitching to contact and getting outs. He struggled a little bit in his first outing back from the DL against the Indians but he pitched a beauty against the Red Sox in his next start. Cashner went seven innings that day and gave up just two runs on three hits, both unearned.

He’ll be facing off against Chris Tillman, who’s done nothing but struggle since his first start of the season. Tillman made his first start back on May 7th and recorded a win as he didn’t allow a run over five innings. That’s the only win he has. Since then, he’s recorded five losses while posting an ERA of 7.90.

It’s only that low because he had a “decent” May. In the month of June, he had a 9.69 ERA and had nearly double the amount of hits (47) as he did innings pitched (26). He’s only made it to the sixth inning twice this season and has given up three or more runs in all of his starts save two.

Prediction: Andrew Cashner pitches well and the Rangers jump on Tillman quick to secure the win.

Tuesday, July 18 (Ross vs. Bundy)

Outside of his second outing, Tyson Ross has looked pretty good. His ERA is currently sitting at 5.33 but if you take out that game against the Blue Jays, it’s an impressive 3.22. The Rangers have been pretty cautious with him so far, not letting him get to 100 pitches, but they ought to start to stretch him a little farther as the season goes on. He does need to get a little more efficient though as he’s averaging about 18 pitches per inning.

Dylan Bundy will be toeing the rubber across from Ross on Tuesday. Bundy is having about as average of a season as you can. He’s 8-8 with a 4.33 ERA (0.05 lower than league average). However, he got off to a hot start and since the start of June, things have taken a turn for the worse. Heading into June, Bundy was 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA.

Since the start of June, he’s 2-5 with a 7.18 ERA. And his two starts in July were some of his worst yet. He lasted four innings in one and five in the other. Between the two, he allowed three home runs and eleven runs to score.

Prediction: Tyson Ross continues to impress as Dylan Bundy continues to be not so impressive. The Texas Rangers score frequently and the bullpen has a solid outing to give them the victory.

Wednesday, July 19 (Perez vs. Gausman)

Martin Perez once again looked good in his most recent start against the Royals. He out-dueled Jason Hammel to get the win, his third in his past four starts. Perez went seven innings deep on Friday, using just 89 pitches to do so. He scattered out the Royals nine hits and used the double play to get out of most of the jams he got himself into.

Perez is really at the top of his game when he keeps the ball low. His fastball naturally drops at the end which induces a lot of ground balls. It’s for that reason that he led the league in inducing double plays last year and is second so far this year.

He’ll be battling Kevin Gausman. Gausman has not had a great season thus far. He’s 5-7 with a 6.39 ERA. Probably his most concerning stat though is his 1.79 WHIP. That’s the second worst in the league amongst eligible pitchers. In 100 innings pitched, he’s given up 135 hits and 44 walks. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a manager. His last couple starts haven’t gone so well either. He’s lasted four innings in one of them and just three in the other. He allowed four homers and thirteen earned runs in those two starts.

Prediction: Martin Perez probably doesn’t pitch quite as well as he has recently but it’s enough to get the job done and hand it off to his bullpen. Kevin Gausman pitches better than he has recently too but the Texas Rangers bats are hot after the first couple games of the series and they scratch out enough runs to win.

Thursday, July 20 (Hamels vs. Miley)

Cole Hamels appears to be back to All-Star form. He has been absolutely dominant since the Cleveland game. In his past three games, he’s tossed twenty-two innings and has given up just two runs on nine hits while striking out seventeen. Most importantly though, his control is back as he only walked two batters during that stretch.

Currently, Hamels has a streak of 21.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run (knock on wood). He looks to keep that streak going on Thursday.

Wade Miley will be taking the mound for Baltimore across from Hamels. Like the rest of the Baltimore staff, Miley has not had a great year. He’s 4-8 with a 5.40 ERA. And like the rest of the staff, he’s gotten worse as the season has progressed.

Since the start of June, Miley has gone 3-5 with an 8.62 ERA. In July, he’s given up 24 hits in just 12 innings. And he’s walked nearly as many batters (9) as he’s struck out (10).

Prediction: If Cole Hamels dominates the way he has been, he’ll be nearly impossible to beat. Even if he doesn’t bring his best stuff, I’m willing to bet he’ll be able to beat Baltimore with the Rangers lineup backing him up.

Common Opponents

Rangers: Tigers (2-1); Toronto (3-4); Cleveland (1-6); Royals (6-1); White Sox (1-2); Twins (1-2); Rays (1-2); Yankees (2-1); Boston (1-5); Houston (3-7); Nationals (3-0)

Orioles: Tigers (1-2); Toronto (9-3); Cleveland (1-3); Royals (0-3); White Sox (4-3); Twins (2-5); Rays (5-4); Yankees (5-7); Boston (7-6); Houston (0-3); Nationals (2-2)