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
With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.
It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.
Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.
Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.