The Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers aren’t headed to the playoffs, but they should be motivated to play well during the final weekend of the regular season.
While most of the attention will be focused on playoff chases elsewhere in the majors, the Indians and Rangers will quietly look to build momentum for next season when they meet on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers (59-100) achieved one of their more inspiring wins of the season on Thursday afternoon, rallying from an early 5-0 deficit against the visiting Los Angeles Angels to win 7-6.
Texas manager Chris Woodward was so impressed with his team’s competitiveness and desire that he gave an impromptu speech in the clubhouse afterward.
“You would think we were trying to fight for a wild-card spot, and we just lost our 100th game (Wednesday) night,” Woodward said. “It speaks volumes to who we have in that clubhouse and who we will have in that clubhouse when we turn this thing around.”
One of the highlights on Thursday was a two-run homer by Texas right fielder Adolis Garcia, which gave him 31 home runs and 90 RBIs on the season, breaking the franchise rookie records set by Pete Incaviglia in 1986.
“Obviously, he’s had a heck of a year. All-Star, all of the above,” Woodward said. “All the accolades, he deserves.”
After spending a big chunk of the season trying to keep pace with the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central, the Indians fell below .500 on Sept. 8 and haven’t had a winning record since.
The Indians (78-81) guaranteed themselves their first non-winning season in nine years with a 10-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. Cleveland bounced back to win the series finale 6-1 on Thursday.
Cleveland plans to send rookie right-hander Eli Morgan (4-7, 5.27 ERA) to the mound in the series opener in Texas. After battling through a rough start in the majors, he has been a bright spot lately — winning his past two starts, both against quality opponents.
He beat the host New York Yankees on Sept. 19, holding them to one run and six hits in six innings of an 11-1 win.
Morgan came back on Saturday and blanked the White Sox on one hit over six innings in a 6-0 victory.
“My fastball command has been key,” Morgan said. “If I can go in and establish it down early, it makes the changeup more effective.”
The Rangers plan to counter with Spencer Howard (0-4, 7.04), who is still looking to log enough innings in a game to be eligible for his first win with Texas. His longest outing as a Ranger was four innings Sept. 24 at Baltimore, where he gave up six hits and four runs in a no-decision.
Howard will have to deal with Cleveland slugger Jose Ramirez, the only player in the majors with at least 35 home runs, 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 25 stolen bases this season.
“He’s checked just about all the boxes,” Cleveland interim manager DeMarlo Hale said. “It’s nice to see him do that within the framework of the game. He got his 100th (RBI) and I think he’ll have an opportunity to get a few more.”
Ramirez needs four stolen bases to have at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a season for the second time in his career.
–Field Level Media