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Monday newsletter time: Rangers reach first off day since April 4 with win

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

 

The Rangers’ streak of 17 games in 17 days is over, mercifully.

Not only was it their longest stretch of games on consecutive days this season, but it also came early in the season when some pitchers are still building into shape and some hitters are still finding their timing.

Those elements were evident as the Rangers went 8-9. They won only one of their five series, but they also didn’t fall below .500 or fall out of first place in the American League West.

They lost Josh Sborz (rotator cuff), Justin Foscue (oblique) Brock Burke (hand) and Cody Bradford (back) to the injured list and witnessed the MLB debuts of Foscue, Davis Wendzel, Cole Winn and Jack Leiter.

Michael Lorenzen and Nathaniel Lowe made their 2024 debuts, and both were in the middle of the Rangers’ 6-4 win Sunday night. The victory gave the Rangers a 5-5 record to end a 10-game road trip and allowed them to avoid a three-game sweep to the Braves.

Evan Carter, Andrew Knizner and Adolis Garcia homered for the Rangers, Lowe had hits in his first two at-bats and Lorenzen tossed five scoreless innings after the Braves got him for three in the first.

The Rangers will have time to tinker on their first off day since April 4. They already flipped Dane Dunning and Jon Gray in the rotation after Gray’s relief outing Saturday. Dunning will pitch Tuesday in the opener against the Mariners and be followed by Gray and Andrew Heaney.

Jonah Heim is eligible to come off the bereavement list Tuesday, so Sam Huff is likely headed back to Triple A Round Rock. The bullpen needs cleaning up, though they don’t have many options beyond reinstating Jonathan Hernandez from the injured list.

Hernandez struck out five Sunday in two scoreless innings on his rehab assignment with Round Rock. The Rangers would be more likely to use him than Owen White, who was recalled Friday to give the Rangers an extra arm in the bullpen.

Josh Sborz is close enough to be considered, though he might need on rehab outing. Bradford can come off the IL on Friday, so either he or another starter could be sent to the bullpen.

Expect the Rangers’ roster to look different when the Rangers hit the field again Tuesday and then throughout the week.

Carter’s big hit

The home run Carter hit in the fourth inning got the Rangers rolling, but that wasn’t his biggest hit of the game.

He dribbled a roller to first base in the eighth inning and legged it out for a leadoff single. Garcia followed with a two-run homer for a 6-3 lead. What made Carter’s hit significant is that it was the first of his MLB career against a left-handed pitcher.

It wasn’t a screamer, but in beating Braves reliever Tyler Matzek to the bag, Carter improved to 1 for 23 in his career against lefties. He also played terrific defense in left field.

The lefty thing was brought up on his first day in spring training, and he wasn’t worried about facing them. Manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t worried about Carter facing them. He faced as many of them as the Rangers could arrange during spring training.

However, Carter bats in the bottom third of the lineup against lefties, if he plays at all. He bats third against right-handers, and that’s where he was Sunday behind the lefty-hitting Corey Seager.

Opponents can easily go to a lefty late when Seager and Carter are hitting back-to-back, which might force Bochy to go to a pinch-hitter for Carter if he continues to struggle against them.

It’s something to watch, especially as the trade deadline nears. A veteran right-handed bat could help out in late-game situations.

Crafty veterans

The off day today gave Bochy the opportunity to push the pitch counts of right-handers David Robertson and Kirby Yates, the two most trusted arms at the back of the bullpen.

Two less experienced arms might not have handled the eighth inning as well as they did.

Robertson worked an easy seventh inning and was back for the eighth, which started with a Ronald Acuna Jr. single. Michael Harris II followed with a popup to shallow right-center field, which Garcia charged and dropped for an error.

The next hitter was Austin Riley, who got ahead in the count as plate umpire Brock Ballou missed calling the second pitch a strike, which would have put Riley in an 0-2 hole. Ballou also didn’t pull the trigger on the next pitch, which he had called a strike all game, and Ballou and first-base ump Ben May didn’t see that Riley didn’t check his swing on the fourth pitch.

Riley nubbed a 53-mph single to right field on the fifth pitch.

Robertson, though, retired Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna, who hit a three-run homer in the first, and Yates made easy work of Orlando Arcia to end the eighth with the Rangers yielding only one unearned run.

Yates retired the Braves’ 7-8-9 hitters to end the game, carving them up rather than allowing one of them to reach and bring Acuna Jr. to the plate as the potential tying run.

The two veterans the Rangers added in the offseason didn’t fold.

 

 

 

ICYMI …

The Rangers are off today, though not entirely. The Tex Gala is tonight at Globe Life Field, and attendance is required for players, coaches and many in the front office. The Texas Rangers Foundation will feed everyone, and Brooks & Dunn will provide the entertainment. With no game to watch, there’s plenty of time to get caught up at Rangers Today. Here’s our latest, in case you missed it.

The Sunday Read: To the rescue

Friday on the Farm: First things first

T.R.’s Memoirs: Boys of Arlington

Jack Leiter debut takeaways

Another long-awaited debut

Doggy video!

Biden, Trump or this kid? The choice is clear. Enjoy.

 

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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1 Comment

  1. Rangerfansince72 April 22, 2024

    I believe they did win the series in Detroit.

    Reply

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