It’s time to start taking the Rangers very seriously in the overcrowded American League Wild Card race.
Martin Perez pitched into the seventh inning and Adrian Beltre connected for his 408th career home run as Texas defeated the visiting Orioles 4-3 on Saturday night in Arlington. That’s the third victory in a row for the Rangers, who have won 12 of their last 16 games and now hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Cole Hamels has rounded into fine form after a rough start to his Rangers career and the offense has scored four or more runs in five straight games.
Minnesota and Anaheim — the two closest teams in the Wild Card standings — both lost Saturday.
Derek Holland will take on Miguel Gonzalez on Sunday as the Rangers try to sweep the O’s.
Your box scores and AP recaps from Saturday …
Tigers 1, Blue Jays 15
Red Sox 3, Mets 1
Cardinals 6, Giants 0
Royals 6, Rays 3
Marlins 1, Nationals 5
Padres 3, Phillies 4
Rockies 3, Pirates 4
Mariners 7, White Sox 6
Angels 3, Indians 8
Reds 12, Brewers 9
Astros 4, Twins 1
Yankees 3, Braves 1
Orioles 3, Rangers 4
Athletics 3, Diamondbacks 2
Cubs 2, Dodgers 5
Some bad news for the Giants, who stand three games back of the Dodgers in the NL West …
Brandon Crawford is out of the starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Cubs after leaving Tuesday’s game with tightness in his left oblique.
It’s believed to be a minor tweak — not a full-blown oblique strain — and Crawford is hopeful that he’ll feel well enough to return in a couple of days.
San Francisco has not been able to capitalize on the Dodgers’ recent rut, and losing Crawford for any period of time is a tough blow. There’s no room in the Wild Card race for a team outside the NL Central.
Crawford is having a breakout season at age 28, with an .806 OPS (123 OPS+), 19 home runs, and 75 RBI in 121 games. And he has continued to play upper-tier defense at shortstop.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta played spoiler against Justin Verlander with this rope that landed on the left field line in the top of the ninth inning Wednesday night at Detroit’s Comerica Park …
Verlander still managed to go the distance against a good Angels offense for his first shutout since 2012.
It is August 26, 2015 and Justin Verlander has a no-hitter going against the Mike Trout-led Angels.
Verlander has issued just one walk and whiffed eight through seven innings of no-hit ball at Detroit’s Comerica Park. He’ll head into the eighth, just six outs away from a no-no, with a pitch count of 85.
Verlander struck out Kole Calhoun, Trout, and Albert Pujols in order in the top of the seventh.
This really might happen.
UPDATE, 9:36 p.m. ET: Verlander opened the top of the eighth with six straight balls, but he eventually got Erick Aybar to ground to second base for an easy double play. C.J. Cron grounded back to Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler for the third out.
Verlander is three outs away with a pitch count of 100.
UPDATE, 9:55 p.m. ET: That’ll do it. Chris Iannetta roped a ball down the left field line — it actually kicked some white-painted grass into the air — to lead off the top of the ninth inning.
Over the past year-plus, multiple high-profile players and agents have come out in favor of expanding the use of protective netting at Major League Baseball stadiums. Currently nets only cover the sections surrounding home plate, and there’s a push to have it extend farther up both foul lines.
This issue was shot down by the owners in the last two collective bargaining agreements — 2007 and 2012 — but there seems to be a bigger groundswell of support for the extension of netting right now than at any time in recent memory. And the people in the commissioner’s office have been listening …
“We are actively studying and evaluating a number of issues related to fan safety, including bat safety, netting, etc., at the league level,” MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
In that Rosenthal piece is an announcement that the Phillies intend to extend the netting at Citizens Bank Park. But it might not happen this year because they don’t want to do it and then have MLB come out with a new, different, suddenly-official set of parameters. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, has to examine the different codes in all of the cities and counties where its teams play.
Look for something more concrete on this over the offseason.
Good on everybody involved in wanting to get ahead of a potential tragedy.