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Open and Shut Case (Royals-Rangers Recap; 06.02.19)

Ross James/ALOST

 

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

ARLINGTON, Texas — Following the recent success of starting pitchers throwing spectacular outings in the past few days, the Texas Rangers’ Adrian Sampson went out and proved on Sunday that his recent winning form by virtue of following a reliever at the beginning of a game was no fluke, starting and almost finishing his own masterpiece to give Texas a series victory.

Sampson, whose last three victories came after coming in relief of an opener, took advantage of a rare starting assignment by striking out a career-high 11 batters in seven innings without walking a batter as the Rangers defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-1 to earn their third consecutive victory.

Before this season, Sampson had never record a Major League victory since coming up with the Seattle Mariners in 2016. In his last four outings, all wins by the Rangers with the winning pitcher being Sampson each time, the right-hander has thrown 22.2 innings while allowing just six earned runs and striking out 23 batters.

“I knew I’d be out there in the heart of it, and it was just good to get a win today,” Sampson said.

Following quality starts from Ariel Jurado on Friday and Lance Lynn on Saturday, Rangers manager Chris Woodward decided to shake things up a bit and give Sampson the ball to start the game to see how he would handle the situation.

Mission accomplished, and Woodward may go into the well once again when that spot comes back around in the rotation.

“I’m pretty sure we won’t use [an opener] next time,” Woodward said. “That was amazing what he did. Showed us a lot. Showed me a lot. It showed our entire staff a lot. Guts.”

Ronald Guzmán had an RBI single in the second inning while the Rangers scored two runs in the fifth on a wild pitch and a Nomar Mazara RBI single for all of the runs Texas would need.

Before the Rangers’ two-run bottom of the fifth, Sampson found himself in a massive jam as the Royals, after a Cam Gallagher single and bunt base hits by both Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton, loaded the bases with nobody out. Sampson dug in, however, as he got Whit Merrifield to line out to third before striking out Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon to escape the Kansas City threat unscathed.

Before the Rangers’ two-run bottom of the fifth, Sampson found himself in a massive jam as the Royals, after a Cam Gallagher single and bunt base hits by both Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton, loaded the bases with nobody out. Sampson dug in, however, as he got Whit Merrifield to line out to third before striking out Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon to escape the Kansas City threat unscathed.

Nine of Sampson’s 11 strikeouts, including of Gordon to end the threat in the fifth inning, came on his slider.

“A lot of times, a young pitcher will get in that situation and want to try to power his way through it. [Sampson] did just the opposite,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “He totally abandoned his fastball and went soft.”

Jorge Soler hit a solo home run — his career-high 15th of the season — on the first pitch of the sixth inning for the Royals only run as the loss pushed their Major League-worst road record to 8-23.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 17 pictures in total.

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Tags : Kansas City RoyalsMLBTexas Rangers