The Texas Rangers have been a below-average offense for the past few weeks, but they had a banner night in the batter’s box and in the courtroom Wednesday.
They’ll have to face Felix Hernandez(notes) on Thursday night, but the visiting Rangers have every reason to believe they can stay hot after their two latest performances against the Seattle Mariners ace.
Texas (62-45) was the third highest-scoring team in the majors as of July 20, averaging 5.2 runs, a pace that has cooled considerably in recent weeks.
The Rangers came into Wednesday’s game having scored 3.0 runs per game since July 21, and they totaled three in losing their first two games of August. The drought didn’t continue, as David Murphy(notes) gave Texas a 6-5 lead with a three-run homer in the fifth inning and Michael Young’s(notes) seventh-inning grand slam sealed an 11-6 win.
Less than an hour after the team capped its biggest offensive output since a 12-1 win over Cleveland on July 6, there was another reason for the Rangers to celebrate. Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan’s group won a bankruptcy court auction for the team that lasted 10 hours, beating a near $600 million bid from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with a final offer than included $385 million in cash.
“Ever since Nolan’s been part of our franchise we’ve gone nowhere but up,” Murphy said. “… Of course we want a guy like that as our owner. In the end, we wanted the best group to represent us. Obviously, how could you not want a group with Nolan Ryan in it?”
Back on the diamond, Texas will get the typically unenviable task of facing Hernandez (7-8, 2.90 ERA).
That, however, is a challenge the Rangers have relished more than any other team. Eleven of the right-hander’s 49 career losses have come against Texas, while no other opponent has beaten him more than seven times.
His two latest experiences against manager Ron Washington’s club were among his worst. Hernandez gave up five runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 6-3 home loss May 1, then surrendered seven runs over six innings in a 7-1 road defeat June 8.
Hernandez is 0-3 in four starts since the All-Star break, but he has a 3.00 ERA in that span while the Mariners (40-68) have only scored three runs for him.
He pitched seven innings Saturday at Minnesota, but all three runs he surrendered came in the first inning of a 4-0 loss.
“I think it was pretty uncharacteristic of Felix early, giving up four hits in a row,” manager Don Wakamatsu told the Mariners’ official website. “You just don’t see a lot of that.”
Tommy Hunter(notes) (8-1, 3.31) counters for Texas hoping to bounce back after a start that raised his ERA by an entire run. Hunter, coming off seven consecutive quality starts, was shelled for eight runs while lasting three innings Friday in a 9-7 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“You never want to lose, but I’m just going to put it in the back of my memory,” Hunter said. “I didn’t throw very good pitches. I missed over the middle of the plate and they took advantage of it. They’re big league hitters. I’ll be back out there for the next one in five days.”
Hunter is 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts against Seattle.