Calhoun, Rangers try to avoid sweep by Indians (Jul 22, 2018)


Texas Rangers top prospect Willie Calhoun had to make an adjustment in the midst of a trying season at Triple-A Round Rock — and it is that adjustment and willingness to learn that has brought the 23-year-old hitting prodigy to the Major Leagues a little sooner than expected.

Calhoun got the call on Friday and had a hit and an RBI in six plate appearances as the designated hitter when the Rangers lost to Cleveland, 9-8 in 11 innings. He added another hit in four at-bats on Saturday when Texas suffered a 16-3 blowout defeat to the Indians.

The series finale on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas will feature right-hander Mike Clevinger (7-5, 3.47 ERA) on the mound for Cleveland to oppose right-hander Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 8.60) of the Rangers.

Acquired last season in the trade deadline deal that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, Calhoun primarily played second base in Los Angeles’ system. Texas has used him exclusively in left field this season and his call-up was precipitated by a thumb injury that landed outfielder Nomar Mazara on the DL.

Calhoun hit .270 with four home runs through his first 51 games this season but has turned it on over the past month and a half, batting .351 in his last 41 games with Round Rock.

“After the first month in Round Rock I really had to put together a plan,” Calhoun told “Obviously, they were pitching me a lot differently than they were last year; pitching around me a lot more, but I couldn’t miss my pitch, and that was the biggest thing for me. In the first month, I was missing my pitch a lot. I really settled down, and it was good.”

The Rangers are confident Calhoun can do well against big league pitching after he hit .300 with 31 home runs and 93 RBIs in the Pacific Coast League last season. He plans on making the most of his opportunity to “stick” with the Rangers, as he put it, but is not looking too far into the future.

“I try to not look too much into that,” Calhoun said. “Just playing the game hard, and wherever it takes me, that’s where it takes me. But just trying not to put too much pressure on myself and just go out and play the same game that I’ve always played.”

With two hits off Texas left-hander Martin Perez on Friday night, Cleveland outfielder Brandon Guyer now has a .261/.386/.478 slash line in 83 plate appearances against left-handers this year, placing him among the American League’s best hitters with at least 80 plate appearances vs. lefties.

Indians manager Terry Francona likes what he’s seeing from Guyer — who had three hits in six appearances on Friday to raise his overall average to just .184 — and expects him to get even better and be a key piece to the Cleveland bench in through the second half of the season.

“Brandon looks dangerous to me again, and that’s huge,” Francona said before Saturday’s game. “You see where we want to hit him in the order — right behind Edwin 1/8Encarnacion 3/8. That’s a big spot, and he looks like he’s starting to feel a little dangerous. That’s really good.”

Clevinger seeks a bounce back on Sunday after he was roughed up in his most recent start on July 14 when the Yankees tagged him for five runs — four earned — in six innings in the Indians’ 5-4 loss. He allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers on May 1.

Clevinger is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his past three starts. He has just two career starts against the Rangers and four overall appearances.

Gallardo makes his ninth appearance and sixth start of the season on Sunday. He has posted a 3-1 record with a 6.75 ERA in five starts with the Rangers (Texas is 4-1 in those starts) and will be working on extended 11-days’ rest after suffering his first loss with Texas Ranger in 2018 in an 8-4 defeat on July 10 at Boston.

Gallardo is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts versus the Indians, with both those starts in Cleveland.