The Rangers gave Cole Hamels a very, very comfortable cushion of run support in his return from a two-month stint on the disabled list. Elvis Andrus hit two home runs, Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo each added another, and Texas had a 9-2 lead after the top of the fourth inning.
But it wasn’t enough. While Hamels had held Cleveland to just the one run at that point, he’d been shaky throughout—and after giving up another run in the fourth, he started to melt down in the fifth. After allowing two singles and two walks, he was pulled with the bases loaded and one out. His replacement, Dario Alvarez, promptly walked in a run and proceeded to let all of his inherited runners score. The Rangers were left clinging to a 9-7 lead by the time the inning was over, and things only got worse for them from there.
The Texas bullpen has gotten better since its series of early-season implosions, but it’s still the same set of pitchers, and it made that fact abundantly clear tonight. After Alvarez’s rough inning, the pen went on to give up eight more runs—not just erasing the lead, but letting Cleveland take batting practice in the process. Tanner Scheppers and Preston Claiborne allowed three runs apiece, while Alex Claudio was somehow a bright spot for the team’s relief corps by only allowing two.
Impressively, Cleveland managed the comeback without a single home run. Instead, they gave the Rangers plenty of time to ruminate on their failures with the nice slow burn of good ol’ manufactured runs. (MLB’s selected highlights page for this game includes such exciting phrases as “drives in a run with a groundout,” “grounds into RBI fielder’s choice,” “plates a run with a fielder’s choice,” and “lifts a sacrifice fly to center field.”)
Considering that the Rangers almost blew a 7-0 lead yesterday before escaping with a 7-6 win, tomorrow should be something to see.