Report: Rangers refused to swap home series with Astros

26 Comments

We learned on Monday that, as a result of Hurricane Harvey devastating a large part of Texas including the Houston area, the upcoming Astros-Rangers series has been moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where the Rays play.

As the Rangers and Astros play one more series in late September in Arlington, one possibility was for the two clubs to swap hosting duties. The Rangers would host Tuesday through Thursday’s games while Houston would host September 25-27. The Rangers declined to do that, Fox 26’s Mark Berman reports. Astros president Reid Ryan said:

You’ve got a major storm that’s disrupted everything. We went to the Rangers and said, ‘Hey, let’s switch series. You guys have our home series. We’ll take your home series.’ They rejected that and didn’t want to do that. The Rangers wanted us to play the next three days at their place, but they did not want to trade series with us. They wanted all six of our games at their park. The fact that the Rangers refused to go home and home with us, we had to look at all of the options that were out there. We had to look at our players’ best interest and we had to look at the integrity of the schedule.

Once this conversation was made public on Monday, the Rangers were thoroughly raked over the coals on social media. But the story is a bit more complex than it appears at first blush.

The Rangers and Astros are rivals and not just because they share the state of Texas and vie for dominance in the Lone Star State. They’ve been rivals since interleague play began in 1997 and it deepened when the Astros moved from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013. The two clubs had a benches-clearing incident earlier this year. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said it’s “one of the more underrated rivalries in baseball.”

Both teams’ front offices, like the players, don’t care for their rivals, either. So Ryan jumped on the opportunity to use the Astros’ turmoil as a way to make the rival Rangers look bad in the public eye.

The Rangers did have legitimate concerns. While the Astros are all but mathematically assured of winning the AL West, the 64-66 Rangers are three games behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card slot in the American League. Going on the road to Houston from September 25-27 would extend their road trip to nearly two whole weeks. They will have been in Los Angeles to play the Angels, in Seattle to play the Mariners, and in Oakland to play the Athletics. Tacking on three additional road games at the end of a lengthy road trip against the AL’s best team could have a serious impact on the Rangers’ playoff chances.

Should that have obscured the real life implications of Hurricane Harvey? No, of course not. But the people that make up the Rangers’ front office were brought in to win baseball games, and sometimes people get tunnel vision in order to achieve a specific goal. This isn’t to make any excuses; it’s just human nature. Ryan attributed malice when there very likely was not any (Hanlon’s razor) and used that opportunity to maliciously spite the Rangers via the media. In the end, both teams look bad.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 5, Brewers 3: An absolute dagger of a loss for the Brewers. Chicago took a 2-0 lead early and Milwaukee fought back to take a 3-2 lead in the eighth. In the ninth Ian Happ reached on a grounder on which he should have been out — no error was called, Jeremy Jeffress just couldn’t get to the bag in time — and then Javier Baez tied things up singling Happ in with two outs. In the 10th, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer on a high fastball that probably didn’t do everything Oliver Drake wanted it to do. Wade Davis got the final five outs of the game, in the ninth and tenth, striking out four Brewers. Chicago is now four and a half games ahead of the Brewers in the Central. Milwaukee will have to win the final three games of this series to have any shot at the division. They do remain only one back in the Wild Card, however, because Colorado keeps losing.

Dodgers 5, Phillies 4: Philly took a 4-2 lead thanks to rookie sensations Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins, but old men Curtis Granderson and Andre Ethier — still alive! who knew?! — homered in the six than seventh innings, respectively, to tie it up. The Dodgers’ own rookie sensation Cody Bellinger drove in the eventual winning run with a groundout in the seventh. With that win the Dodgers clinch at least a tie for the NL West title. They can pop champagne corks with either a win tonight or a Dbacks loss. Bad news though: Justin Turner got a bruised thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Mark Leiter Jr. in the first. X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day, but that kind of thing can linger.

Indians 4, Angels 1: Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie and the Indians win yet again. That’s 27 of 28 now. They’re only a game behind the Dodgers for the best record in baseball which, as we’ve noted recently, matters now that home field in the World Series is determined by non-stupid means.

Orioles 3, Rays 1: Gabriel Ynoa — who, apropos of nothing, has one of the more satisfying last names to both read and pronounce in all of baseball — tossed eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball. Manny Machado hit a two-run homer and Trey Mancini knocked in a run, both coming in the first innings, for all of Baltimore’s scoring. Tampa Bay threatened in the ninth. It wasn’t anywhere near as good a threat as the one Kim Jong Un issued to Trump yesterday — really, all politics aside, that thing reads fantastically — so the O’s were able to extinguish the fire.

Royals 1, Blue Jays 0: Jason Vargas and four relievers allowed two hits and no runs to beat J.A. Happ and three relievers who allowed eight hits and one run. Melky Cabrera‘s third inning RBI single was the game’s only scoring. Can you imagine what any pitcher from before, say, 1980, must think about a 1-0 game featuring a two-hit shutout that required nine pitchers?

Twins 12, Tigers 1: The Twins had been on a mini-skid before last night, but the Tigers pitching staff will always cure what ails ya. Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco had three hits each and four different Twins batters knocked in two runs. The Twins now have a two and a half game lead for the second Wild Card with ten days left in the season.

Cardinals 8, Reds 5: Scott Schebler hit two homers for the Reds but it was not enough to overcome the Cards. Dexter Fowler had three hits and drove in two. He was 7-for-13 with two home runs and six RBI in the three-game series, swept by St. Louis. The Cards, who were swept by the Cubs last weekend, are still alive for the Wild Card, though, sitting a game and a half back of Colorado and a half game back of Milwaukee.

Braves 3, Nationals 2: R.A. Dickey allowed two runs over eight innings to pick up his 10th win on the year. After the game he said, “I’d be lying to say I didn’t have some emotions about it. This could be my last start ever at a home venue.” So there’s a decent chance he retires after the season. Part of me hopes he doesn’t — knuckleballers can and should pitch forever and he does have a team option the Braves are likely to pick up for 2018 — but he’s got kids and stuff and it’d be totally understandable if he decided he was done.

White Sox 3, Astros 1: White Sox starter Carson Fulmer lasted one third of an inning before leaving with a blister so seven relievers covered the rest of the game, allowing only one run to the best offense in baseball. Dallas Keuchel walked in one run and allowed another to score on a double play to earn the loss. Tim Anderson hit an insurance home run in the eighth.

Rangers 4, Mariners 2: Cole Hamels allowed only one run over eight innings pitched and was backed by Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo homers and a Carlos Gomez two-run double. The Mariners have been part of the Wild Card conversation for much of the season but now they’re closer to last place in the AL West (4.5 games) than they are to the second Wild Card (5 games).

Padres 3, Rockies 0: Clayton Richard, fresh off of his two-year contract extension, tamed the Rockies, shutting them out for seven and a third, scattering seven hits. Christian Villanueva homered and drove in two. The Rockies have dropped four straight and have the Brewers and Cards breathing down their necks for the second Wild Card.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
4 Comments

The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.