Friday newsletter time: Ezequiel Duran played hero, but Corey Seager sparked Rangers’ rally
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Ezequiel Duran is living the dream.
A player who was overlooked by scouts in the Dominican Republic and didn’t sign until he as 18 and for only $10,000, Duran won another game for the Rangers on Thursday night with a bases-clearing triple with two outs in the ninth inning.
The Rangers won 3-1 after sputtering offensively the first eight innings. They needed something to get them going in the ninth, and the $325 million man delivered.
Corey Seager made the really possible by working a walk and forcing Tigers closer Gregory Soto to throw seven pitches. Soto then called for some mound repairs, took an Adolis Garcia liner off his heel but got the out, hit Kole Calhoun, caught Jonah Heim looking at a borderline pitch, walked Nate Lowe to load the bases, and then yielded the Duran double down the right-field line.
Seager is mired in a 7-for-48 skid that has dropped his average to .222. He leads MLB shortstops with 13 home runs, but hasn’t done much of consequence of late. That includes his mental blunder Tuesday at shortstop that contributed to the Astros’ winning rally.
The walk, though, was critical.
As for Duran, he is making it incredibly difficult for the Rangers to send him down once Josh Smith is cleared to return from the injured list. Maybe Smith, who is with Triple A Round Rock on a rehab assignment, is activated and optioned, as the Rangers did Thursday with outfielder Steele Walker (COVID IL).
The Rangers were initially planning for Duran to just be Smith’s fill-in and head back to the minors. Duran is batting .319 with two homers and eight RBIs in 12 games. He has hits in nine of the 12 games.
The Rangers could option outfielder Zach Reks, which would leave Garcia, Calhoun, Leody Taveras, Brad Miller and Charlie Culberson as outfielders. Keep in mind that Calhoun did leave the game after the hit by pitch in his ribs.
If Mitch Garver is still on the COVID IL, some at-bats could be had at designated hitter for Duran or Smith, or they could fall into a platoon.
A platoon, though, might not be ideal for their development.
Some tough decisions are ahead.
Martin Perez allowed seven runs last weekend in his last outing, a game the Rangers rallied to win at Chicago. He wasn’t necessarily knocked around, though he did yield a home run, but the ground balls he was inducing were getting through.
He was back churning out the grounders Thursday, and most of them were turned into outs as the left-hander covered seven innings and allowed only one run. His ERA is a cool 2.10.
It’s mid-June, and the All-Star Game is in a month. The selection show is July 10. Perez is looking at four, maybe three, more starts before rosters are picked, depending on how the Rangers use their two off days next week.
He’s approaching shoo-in status for the American League team. It would be the first All-Star appearance of his career.
And he might be the only Rangers player on the team.
It’s conceivable that Seager or Marcus Semien are in the voting mix based on their names alone. Garcia has been productive, but would benefit from a boost to his numbers. Left-hander Brock Burke has been one of the best setup relievers in the league so far, and maybe he gets a look.
The best bet is Perez, who continues to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Card of the Week
David Murphy is the guest on the next episode of the Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast, but we’ve already featured the only Murphy card I have as a Card of the Week.
I decided that the first card of a Rangers player on my desk that hasn’t been a recent Card of the Week would be the choice this week. I found it in the third stack:
The Card of the Week is the 1989 Donruss Charlie Hough.
Hough was 41 and in his 10th season with the Rangers. He had one more left in Arlington and five more left in his 25-year career, which ended in 1994. He is a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame and remains the franchise leader in wins (139).
The card after Hough in the pack my son opened last month? Former Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins.
Speaking of Murphy, his podcast episode is pure gold. Links will be posted at Rangers Today as soon as it’s ready. If are among those who have taken to watching episodes on the podcast’s YouTube page, be sure to subscribe for free.
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Treat yourself this weekend. Enjoy. See you Monday.
Time for a Puppachino treat pic.twitter.com/VigGBYQE1p
— Madeyousmile (@Thund3rB0lt) June 14, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org