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Friday newsletter time: Rangers can’t nail down postseason as Mariners rally in ninth

(AP photo/Lindsey Wasson)

 

The Rangers were three outs away Thursday night from a breakthrough victory.

Jordan Montgomery allowed one run in six innings, and Leody Taveras and Adolis Garcia homered to give the Rangers a one-run lead entering the ninth inning. Aroldis Chapman, with 321 career saves, was on the mound.

But, as has been the case all season with the bullpen, things were also lined up for disappointment.

Chapman allowed the first three batters to reach in the ninth, and J.P. Crawford delivered a two-run, two-out double to left field as the Mariners beat the Rangers 3-2 and kept them from their first postseason berth since 2016.

The Rangers have three games remaining and need only one win to be a wild-card team. Their magic number to clinch the American League West stayed at two.

“That’s a tough one,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s no getting around that. We have some baseball left. No one thought this would be easy.”

The Rangers had only three hits, which didn’t leave much margin for error for the pitching staff. Montgomery had stressful innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth and did not come out for the seventh, but Andrew Heaney and Jose Leclerc tossed perfect innings in the seventh and eighth.

Leclerc used only nine pitches, but he was pitching on back-to-back days and was lifted before the ninth. Chapman was also pitching for a second straight day, and he didn’t have the power stuff he did Wednesday against the Angels.

Cal Raleigh and Dylan Moore opened with singles. They weren’t hit hard, but they weren’t outs. Chapman then walked Ty France, so Bochy went to Jonathan Hernandez with no outs and the bases loaded.

Hernandez nearly got the Rangers out of it, but Crawford sent a deep drive into the left-field corner to end it.

“He just placed it well,” Bochy said.

Nathan Eovaldi will start tonight for the Rangers. They need only one more win.

Astros in Arizona

The second-place Astros had the day off ahead of a three-game weekend series at Arizona, which will be attempting to lock up a wild-card spot tonight.

The Diamondbacks will have their ace on the mound, too.

Zac Gallen, who was a Cy Young candidate until the Padres’ Blake Snell went crazy, will face J.P. France in the opener, but Arizona hasn’t picked starters for Saturday and Sunday. They are hoping Gallen gets the job done so that they don’t have to use Merrill Kelly until Game 1 of the wild-card series.

If the Astros win tonight, they will have Justin Verlander on the mound Saturday.

Rangers on the Grid

Thursday was a good day simply because the Rangers were back on the Immaculate Grid, which now features past grids. The Rangers were actually on the first ever Grid, and my answers to that one are coming soon to the newsletter.

Today, though, my answers to the Thursday grid are pictured. The Rangers were paired with the Twins, the Braves and a 200-strikeout season by a pitcher.

Scott Baker was the Rangers’ long man in the miserable 2014 season, so he pitched a lot. He also started eight times. Good guy.

Chris Martin is enjoying an incredible season for the Red Sox, with a 1.05 ERA. He signed with the Rangers before the 2018 season after revitalizing his career in Japan.

C.J. Wilson was the Rangers Pitcher of the Year in 2010 and 2011, the two seasons they went to the World Series. He took all of his various talents, like racing cars and performing open-heart surgery, to the Angels at the 2011 winter meetings, but arm injuries ended his career.

Card of the Week

Sad news came down earlier this week, when Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson passed away at age 86.

By all accounts he was as wonderful a person as he was a defensive player, and that’s saying something considering Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves. My only interaction with him came in 2018 as Adrian Beltre was nearing his retirement.

Robinson knew all about Beltre and how well he played third base. Beltre should be joining Robinson in Cooperstown next summer.

So, in honor of Mr. Robinson, his 1962 Topps is the Card of the Week.

This one is part of the 1962 set I’ve been working on for a few years. The first 50 cards feature MVPs, Cy Young winners and Hall of Famers.

The first card is Roger Maris, and the back of that card is more notable than the front. He hit 61 homers in 1961, and that number certainly stands out.

The Robinson card is No. 45, five ahead of Stan Musial.

Doggy video!

The Rangers and the Mariners’ playoff chances the past week. Enjoy.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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