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Monday newsletter time: A messy start to the fourth inning helps doom Rangers

(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

 

The Rangers could have used a breakfast ball in the fourth inning Sunday.

The game was tied and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, the guy who wins the Home Run Derby all the time, just swung at and missed a Jon Gray slider off the plate.

Jonah Heim, the catcher making a push for the American League All-Star team, missed scooping the pitch and it squirted away to the backstop. But it took a favorable bounce and Heim had time to throw out Alonso at first.

His throw, though, sailed into Alonso’s path and off Nate Lowe’s glove. Alonso was at second base rather than in the dugout.

Two batters later the Mets were up 4-1, a margin they held the rest of the way to win the three-game series at Citi Field.

What happens if Alonso is the first out instead of at second base?

Gray wasn’t as sharp as he has been, piling up pitches early in the game, but he’s also a fairly tough critic of himself. He was good most of his 5 2/3 innings, save for the double by Jeff McNeil that followed Alonso and the two-run homer by Eduardo Escobar that followed the McNeil double.

It wasn’t good enough, especially with the Rangers misfiring when they had runners in scoring position (0 for 6).

Heim connected for a homer in the third inning for the Rangers’ run. He has 12 home runs, the most among American League catchers.

The loss dropped the Rangers to 3-3 on their nine-game road trip. The last three are at Baltimore, beginning today, and the Orioles aren’t very good.

But like the Rangers, the Orioles are better than they were in 2021. They lost 110 games, compared to only the lost by the Rangers. Only 102.

Anyhoo, the Rangers have a chance to come home with a winning road trip, which could give them a boost for a first-half-ending homestand despite not getting a Sunday mulligan.

Spencer for hire?

Right-hander Spencer Howard has been with the Rangers on the taxi squad in advance of a potential spot start Tuesday at Camden Yards, this after he tossed seven dominant innings Thursday at Triple A Round Rock.

The Rangers haven’t made it official yet, leaving the possibility that they go with a bullpen game.

They could announce it today. They should have announced it as soon as he joined them.

It’s entirely possible that Howard has been told he’s starting and that the Rangers are just employing some form of gamesmanship for this super critical early-July series against the Orioles (insert eye roll here).

What’s the hold up in announcing it? And what effect would it have on Howard if the Rangers decide that using a worn-down bullpen is better than the key piece in the Kyle Gibson trade last year with Philadelphia?

The Rangers sent Howard down in late April so that he could get stretched out and be a viable option in the majors. He would have to pitch well, but the plan was for him to come back this season.

He has been solid for more than a month now. He’s done what was asked of him.

ICYMI …

I’ll admit it: Last week started out a little more slowly than normal at Rangers Today, but, man, we finished with a flourish. Unfortunately, it was just in time for the holiday weekend. No worries. We have you covered with our latest content, in case you missed it.

The Sunday Read: 30 days of decisions

Friday on the Farm: Recapping the first half

T.R.’s Memoirs: Looking back at Buck

Rangers farm report: Jack Leiter gets some rest

Doggy video!

Either his tank hit full or he was caught in the act. Enjoy. See you Tuesday.


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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