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Monday newsletter time: Mariners’ strong staff feasts on Rangers’ lineup

(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

 

Dane Dunning needed 33 pitches in the first inning Sunday at T Mobile Park, but he left it and the next two innings unscathed. He was removed in the fifth trailing by two and with eight strikeouts.

The outing wasn’t his best but wasn’t his worst. His best wouldn’t have been good enough anyhow.

The Rangers’ offense managed only two hits in getting blanked 5-0 and swept out of Seattle. They are 8 1/2 games behind the Mariners in the American League West and only a half-game ahead of the third-place Astros.

Help is on the way, and, no, it’s not too late for the Rangers to get themselves back into contention. But the offense has to get better after six weeks’ worth of struggles and an incredible waste of solid starting pitching.

Seattle has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and has done to others what they did to the Rangers. The Rangers, though, haven’t hit against any team.

The problem is the middle of the order. Josh Smith has been good, but he missed the Seattle series with soreness and, if we’re being honest, shouldn’t be hitting in the middle of the order. Adolis Garcia hasn’t been good at all, and Nathaniel Lowe and Wyatt Langford aren’t hitting the ball over the fence.

The Rangers hit only two home runs on their six-game road trip, one Tuesday by Ezequiel Duran in a 15-2 loss and a three-run shot Wednesday by Corey Seager.

Pitchers are beating the Rangers with fastballs and giving them a heavy dose of changeups.

Something needs to be changed up offensively as the Rangers play host to the Mets, winners of five straight, and the upstart Royals this week. Until the help (Josh Jung) arrives, the Rangers must help themselves.

The rehab trail

Right-hander Max Scherzer completed another start on rehab assignment Saturday, throwing 79 pitches over 4 2/3 innings, and that should have him in a position to join the Rangers’ rotation on this homestand.

Jung and right-hander Josh Sborz started their assignments Sunday night.

Jung started at third base and collected two singles in three at-bats before being replaced by former TCU star Jantzen Witte. Jung will need more than just a handful of games after missing almost all of spring training and playing only four regular season games before suffering a fracture just above the right wrist April 1.

Sborz maxed out at 95.7 mph, so a tick short of where he typically is when healthy, and allowed two runs and recorded two  before hitting his pitch limit of 20. He has been out more than a month after going to the injured list for the second time this season with a strained rotator cuff, and the Rangers have taken this one slow with him.

He might not return until late in the homestand.

The Rangers will need spots on the 40-man roster to reinstate Scherzer and Jung from the 60-day IL. One was created Sunday when reliever Jesus Tinoco was designated for assignment.

Frisco playoff-bound

One only team in minor-league baseball has a better winning percentage than the .683 mark Double A Frisco has posted.

Yet, the RoughRiders didn’t even need to win Sunday afternoon to clinch the first-half North Division title and a berth in the Texas League playoffs. They did win, just for good measure, later in the day.

Their seventh straight victory left them with a 43-20 record, and they improved to 21-8 at Riders Field. Frisco doesn’t have any top-10 prospects on their roster, but the pitching staff has been solid, the offense is getting contributions up and down the lineup and the team has learned how to win under manager Carlos Cardoza

“They’ve come together tremendously,” Rangers farm director Josh Bonifay said. “Carlos Cardoza does a phenomenal job leading the troops. He’s created some phenomenal culture in the clubhouse.”

No hitter has more than six home runs, a .300 batting average or an OPS above .800, yet the Riders rank third in the Texas League in runs scored. Frisco leads with a plus-82 run differential thanks to a pitching staff that has allowed the fewest runs (236).

Emiliano Teodo continues to impress. He lowered his ERA to 1.88 on Sunday with five scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits and one walk while striking out 11. Fellow right-hander Dane Acker battled some control issues Saturday to lower his ERA to 2.81.

The postseason doesn’t begin until September, and there’s no telling who will be on the Frisco roster by then. But the Riders are in the tournament.

 

ICYMI …

The Rangers are coming home, and home cooking is what they need. For the glass half-full crowd, there’s reason for optimism and plenty to follow the rest of the season. For the glass half-empty crowd, there will be news to fill up the other half of the glass. Either way, Rangers Today is worth following. The Father’s Day special price of $48 is still available. Get it here. Here’s our latest content to sample, in case you missed it.

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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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