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
Cole Hamels had his best start as a member of the Rangers last night, tossing eight innings of one-run ball as part of a 4-1 victory over the Orioles. That’s the sort of ace performance they had in mind when they acquired him from the Phillies last month.
Hamels walked four batters, including one with the bases loaded, but he held the Orioles to just two hits while notching 10 strikeouts. The southpaw retired 14 batters in a row at one point. Shawn Tolleson tossed a scoreless ninth inning for his 27th save of the season while Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Gimenez each hit solo home runs.
Hamels owns a 3.69 ERA and 33/15 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 innings over five starts since joining Texas.
At 66-61, the Rangers are currently a half-game (one up in the loss column) over the Twins for the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The Orioles have lost eight out of nine to fall 3 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Tigers 3, Blue Jays 5
Marlins 4, Nationals 3
Angels 1, Indians 3
Padres 1, Phillies 7
Red Sox 6, Mets 4 (10 innings)
Yankees 15, Braves 4
Royals 3, Rays 2
Rockies 3, Pirates 5
Orioles 1, Rangers 4
Reds 0, Brewers 5
Athletics 4, Diamondbacks 6
Mariners 2, White Sox 0
Cubs 1, Dodgers 4
Astros 0, Twins 3
Cardinals 4, Giants 5
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been something of a lightning rod in recent years, getting most of the blame for the team’s fall from grace after the 2011 season. There were a number of poor decisions made under his leadership, including the Ryan Howard extension, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle, separate trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system, as well as some regrettable public comments with which he insulted Ryan Howard, showed he didn’t understand how OPS worked, and denigrated the value of walks.
The Phillies hit rock bottom earlier this year, when manager Ryne Sandberg quit suddenly due to an inability to effectively communicate with his players. Amaro named Pete Mackanin the interim manager, and the team has played much better and players have effusively praised Mackanin. Amaro also oversaw the overhauling of the Phillies’ minor league system, trading Jimmy Rollins during the off-season and executing trades of Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The Phillies now arguably have one of the five-best minor league systems in baseball.
And that may be reason enough for the Phillies to bring Amaro back for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Amaro’s contract expires after the season, but incoming team president Andy MacPhail — taking over for outgoing president Pat Gillick — may keep Amaro in the GM seat rather than find a new candidate from outside the organization.
Heyman does cite as potential external GM options J.J. Piccolo of the Royals, Matt Klentak of the Angels, and John Barr of the Giants.