With Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees only hours away, the Rangers have announced some slight changes to their roster.
According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, left-handers Michael Kirkman and Clay Rapada have been added for this round, while right-hander Dustin Nippert and speedster Esteban German have been taken off.
Kirkman, 24, spent most of the year as a starting pitcher with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but posted a 1.65 ERA and 16/10 K/BB ratio over 14 relief appearances with the Rangers down the stretch. Rapada, 29, had a 4.00 ERA and 5/7 K/BB ratio in 13 relief appearances with the Rangers this season, but managed a fantastic 1.82 ERA and 61/21 K/BB ratio over 59 1/3 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He held left-handed batters to a .120 batting average.
Along with Darren Oliver and Derek Holland, the Rangers now have four left-handers in their bullpen.
You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.
With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.
Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez made his debut with his new team on Thursday night after a brief stint with Triple-A Round Rock. He started in left field and was inserted into the number eight spot in the Rangers’ batting order.
The Rangers made two quick outs in the bottom of the second inning, with Adrian Beltre grounding out and Rougned Odor striking out. But the inning was kept alive as Jonathan Lucroy singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and then Mitch Moreland walked to bring up Gomez.
Gomez took a first-pitch cutter from Josh Tomlin for a ball, then jumped on another cut fastball, drilling it for a no-doubt three-run home run into the seats in left field at Globe Life Park in Arlington (#29 out of 30 in Craig’s ballpark name rankings).
Here’s the video.