Monday newsletter time: Rangers open season 3-0, with their manager contributing Sunday night
(AP photo/Emil T. Lippe)
Raise your hand if you had the Rangers going 3-0 to start the season.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Maybe if the Rangers had been opening the season against the A’s or Pirates, but not the defending National League champion Phillies. Right?
Well, the Rangers are 3-0, and on Sunday night the manager might have won one for them.
Bruce Bochy used the bullpen wisely, with Brock Burke and Jonathan Hernandez ending threats, and orchestrated a key late-game defensive alignment that resulted in Adolis Garcia saving extra bases with an eighth-inning catch in right field. Garcia started in center but shifted to right when Bochy inserted Travis Jankowski to upgrade the defense.
The final result was a 2-1 victory. The Rangers were a miserable 15-35 in one-run games last season, a shortcoming that contributed to the ouster of then-manager Chris Woodward. It’s early and 15-35 is still in play, conceivably, but the manager had a good night.
So did third baseman Josh Jung, who hit his first homer of the season and played well defensively behind Martin Perez. The left-hander did his thing, working out of jams with double plays and called third strikes.
The Rangers are 3-0 for the first time since 2011, when they opened 6-0. That season turned out pretty good. They didn’t win their third game last season until the 12th game. That season turned out pretty lousy.
The Rangers have won 14 straight games against the Phillies, dating to the season-opening series in 2014. That’s the longest current streak in the majors.
Can this opening success last? The Rangers will lose at some point, but the initial series showed that they are a better club all around than last season — on the mound, in the field, at the plate and in the dugout.
Pitching and defense
The Rangers scored 11 and 16 runs in their first two wins of the season, but they know that offense comes and goes.
Pitching and defense, Bochy believes, wins ballgames and championships, and must be a constant. He would know.
The Rangers have been solid defensively, making the routine plays and turning in some spectacular ones. The pitching has been good, even in allowing seven runs on Opening Day. A handful of those runs came as the Phillies played target golf with some of their hits off Jacob deGrom.
It’s only three games, of course. Lots of fielding folly could be ahead. But based on the evidence at hand, there shouldn’t be as much as in recent campaigns.
The rotation is continuing to get built up, and all five starters should be able to pitch without limitations after deGrom starts Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series against the Orioles. He threw 73 pitchers in the lid-lifter and believes he can bump that by 20 this week.
Right-hander Jon Gray and left-hander Andrew Heaney will start Monday and Tuesday.
The season is off and running, and so is Rangers Today. We’ve cranked out stories, have more to crank out, and the podcast has a new home. One side note: I’m going to the Wednesday practice round at the Masters, but will try to write as long as I’m not drunk on pimento cheese sandwiches. John Moore will be around, though. Go ahead and subscribe. Here’s our latest content in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Rangers counting on Josh Jung
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Rangers Today Baseball Podcast: Jonathan Ornelas links
If the shoe fits … . Enjoy.
— Alit21 (@Alit_21) March 28, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com