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Friday newsletter time: Rangers facing another test as Astros come to town

(AP photo/Emil T. Lippe)

 

ARLINGTON — The Tigers have been the Rangers’ only focus this week, manager Bruce Bochy said, but that’s not entirely true.

Cody Bradford started the series finale Thursday, pitching admirably into the fifth inning even though he hadn’t made a start and had faced only two hitters since June 13. He gave the Rangers a chance.

He was pitching, though, because someone had looked ahead at the schedule. The Astros are up next four a four-game weekend wrap-around series, and Bradford was dropped into the rotation so that the Rangers would have their two best starters available in the two opening games.

And Josh Sborz didn’t pitch in a tight spot during an 8-5 loss to the Tigers, who salvaged a sweep by scoring five times against Joe Barlow and John King in the seventh and eighth. And shortstop Corey Seager didn’t play.

So, the Rangers will be putting their best foot forward tonight and Saturday, with Jon Gray and Nathan Eovaldi starting and what rate as the key bullpen arms rested. The red-hot Ezequiel Duran, who has homered in three straight, figures to be in the lineup.

The Rangers lead the Astros by five games in the American League West.

“We haven’t played them in a while,” second baseman Marcus Semien said. “It’ll be interesting to see how they’re looking. Game 1 was is always about information and how they’re attacking us, and we’ll see where we’re at tomorrow.”

The Astros have dealt with injuries to their rotation all season and are without their best hitter, Yordan Alvarez. The Rangers were without Seager when they went to Houston in April and won 2 of 3 games, and are without Jacob deGrom until late next season.

Given that the Rangers are off to their best start since 2016 and are firmly in playoff contention, the first home series against the reigning world champions seems like a big deal.

No matter what happens, the Rangers will still be in first place when the series ends.

“We’re in a good place,” Bochy said. “It’s going to be an exciting series.”

How Garcia can start

Considering who he was up against and the health status of two players on the ballot with him, Adolis Garcia got robbed from his first All-Star start. He has 20 home runs and leads baseball with 66 RBIs.

However, he could still start alongside Semien, Seager, Josh Jung and Jonah Heim.

The reserves are selected by player voting, and Garcia could still end up in the starting lineup. He will learn Sunday if he has made his second All-Star team, and would likely not learn if he was starting until July 10 when AL manager Dusty Baker fills out the lineup card.

Luis Robert Jr. of the White Sox has a good case to be a starter. So does Garcia.

Card of the Week

The reserves and pitchers for the All-Star Game will be unveiled Sunday, and the Rangers should add at least one to the starting quartet.

The surest bet from the pitching staff is Eovaldi, who has been the Rangers’ best starter in his first season with the Rangers. Fellow right-hander Gray and outfielder Garcia have a case to be on the AL team.

The Rangers are the sixth MLB team the native Texans has pitched for in his career. The first becomes obvious when looking at the Card of the Week, Eovaldi’s 2011 Bowman Chrome 1st Bowman.

Honestly, it doesn’t really look like Eovaldi. The body is different now than when he was selected in the 11th round of 2008 MLB draft, and Eovaldi now wears a flattop.

The Rangers probably would let him do whatever he wants with his hair as long as he continues to pitch like an All-Star.

 

Doggy video!

Enjoy your weekend, especially if it’s a long one at the lake.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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