The Rangers are still struggling to close out games effectively, but at least the offense held a big enough lead this time to escape bruised, but not beaten.
Joe Becker got his first start since Opening Day and kept the Royals' bats guessing over 5 innings, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, and striking out 7. Along the way, Becker struck out Royals first baseman Jacob Causey in the third inning to record the team's 4000th franchise strikeout.
For the third straight game, Nick Gilmore led off the game with an extra-base hit. Gilmore doubled and then scored on Rob Pederson's double. Pederson subsequently scored on Ben Schooler's groundout. Gilmore came up again in the third and started things with a single to center. After stealing the first of the team's 11 stolen bases on the day, he would trot home on an RBI single from Schooler. Schooler would then score on Kyle Moyer's single.
The Royals' Tyler Eaton hit a sac fly in the bottom of the third to cut into the Rangers lead at 4-1. Rookie Cal Walters was welcomed to the MVABL with a HBP to start the fourth. Chris Ridl would follow with a single, and Eric Becker laced a run-scoring single, his 100th MVABL RBI. Pederson and Schooler added RBI knocks to increase the lead to 8-1.
Royals catcher Mark Franklin had a 2-out RBI double in the fourth, and pinch runner Carlos Pena would steal third and score on an overthrow to make the score 8-3. The Royals cut the lead in half as Mark Carpenter and Chris Flaherty had back-to-back doubles.
The Rangers got 3 runs back in the top of the 6th with the help of Schooler and Dominic Kuzujanakis RBI singles. The lead increased in the 7th as Walters made his first MVABL hit memorable with a 2-run home run. An unearned run in the 8th gave the Rangers a commanding 14-5 lead. In the top of the ninth, the Rangers added much-needed insurance as Eric Becker had an RBI single, and as the throw from the outfield eluded the catcher, Walters scampered all the way around from first base with a head first slide to give the Rangers what seemed to be a comfortable 16-5 advantage.
But alas, the dreaded final inning approached where the Rangers have struggled to close out 3 of their 4 contests so far. Walters was brought in for the ninth, and was promptly greeted with 3 straight hits to load the bases. He struck out Eaton for the first out, and should have got the same on the next batter, but was done in by a couple of would-be called third strikes that weren't. And the Royals paid for the extra opportunities, batting around scoring 5 times before the bullpen beckoned once more. The Royals got a couple more RBI hits off of reliever Hunter Kraynak before Flaherty flew out to end the game.
Amazing stat of the month: The Rangers have allowed 16 runs in the next-to-last inning or earlier. The Rangers have allowed 17 runs in the final inning or in extras.
The Rangers will have its first weeknight game on Thursday, June 25 at 7pm at Rotary Park in Beavercreek against the Wright Knights.
Offensive highlights: Nick Gilmore 2-for-5, double, 2R, SB; Rob Pederson 3-for-4, 4R, 2RBI, double; Ben Schooler 4-for-5, 4RBI, double; Kyle Moyer 2-for-4, RBI, 3 SB; Cal Walters 1-for-3, 3R, 2RBI, HR; Eric Becker 3-for-5, 2RBI, 2SB; Chris Jones 1-for-3, 2R, 4SB
Defensive highlights: Kyle Moyer threw out his second runner this season trying to tag up on a flyball.
Historical Notes: Joe Becker recorded the team's 4000th franchise strikeout. Eric Becker had an RBI single to reach 100 MVABL RBIs.