There were many firsts at the ballpark in Arlington on Thursday night, including the first win for the Rangers at Globe Life Field in 22 days as they dunked the visiting White Sox 3-2.
Before the win over Chicago, Texas had not won a game at home since beating the A’s on July 13. The Rangers had lost seven straight games at home, dating back to a sweep by Seattle on the front side of the All-Star break and then getting swept again by Baltimore following that break, so it had been a while since the Ranger faithful had seen a win.
Cole Ragans made his major league debut in the contest and the former first-round draft pick who has missed several years due to two Tommy John surgeries was stout in the outing. Ragans talked with Rangers skipper Chris Woodward a day before his first start and told his manager he had faced some big-league names while in minor league ball.
“I’m like, well, you’re about to face some pretty big names in Chicago,” Woodward said in his post-game conference. “Like being up (In MLB), they got some pretty good ones, but to get his first strikeout, either way, you know that’ll mean a lot to him, but he had a really impressive start today.”
Ragans had family in the stands (in fact, one family member caught a foul ball pitched by the rookie in the game) as he took the mound and got the first batter he faced — two-time All-Star and batting champ Tim Anderson — to ground out.
Luis Robert was next to the dish and belted a single to center for the first hit allowed in Ragans’ career.
August 4 is known around pro baseball, especially in Texas, as the anniversary of Hall of Fame Pitcher Nolan Ryan plunking Chicago’s Robin Ventura with a pitch in Arlington in 1993. Ventura, 26 at the time, charged the mound in anger after being hit by Ryan, then 46, and then proceeded to get repeatedly decked by the senior sportsman.
Ragans recorded his first punchout when he fanned Eloy Jimenez, a Silver Slugger winner, on four tosses, the final a 92.6 MPH four-seam heater. Ragans allowed a walk, gave up a single, and tasted his first big league, bases-loaded jam. One pitch into the at-bat, and Ragans got Yoan Moncada to pop out to first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and end the top of the first.
Selected by Texas in 2016, Ragans would throw 93 pitches (55 for strikes) over five innings of work, allowing one unearned run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Ragans would not earn a decision in the game because the teams were locked in a 1-1 tie when he left the contest. Leody Taveras drove in Lowe in the bottom of the second for the Rangers’ first run.
Texas never trailed in the contest and retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Meibrys Viloria planted a pinch-hit single to center, scoring Taveras. The Rangers padded the 2-1 lead with another run two batters later when Marcus Semien sent Ezequiel Duran home on a sac-fly for a 3-1 lead.
The Rangers bullpen has struggled as of late, but not so on Thursday. When Ragans departed ahead of the sixth, Brock Burke took the reins and was filthy through six outs, fanning four and allowing a lone baserunner on the way to his sixth victory of the season (6-2).
Matt Moore pitched the eighth and allowed a run as he collected his sixth hold of the year ahead of Jonathan Hernández, who earned his second career save with an electric ninth in which he fanned two of three White Sox.
Texas moved to 47-58 with the dub and now sits nine games behind Tampa Bay for the final AL Wild Card spot, though the Rangers have Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Baltimore ahead of them in that race.
The Rangers will look for their second straight victory on Friday when they again host Chicago in a 7.05 p.m. affair. Dylan Cease (11-4, 2.01) will get the start for the White Sox, and Glenn Otto (4-7, 5.50) has been penciled in for Texas.