Monday newsletter time: Rangers ride winning streak into key series at Toronto
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Back-to-back victories over the worst team in baseball should be expected from a playoff contender and shouldn’t be cause for celebration.
Considering where the Rangers have been, though, the wins Saturday and Sunday over the A’s feel like momentum, and the nine runs the Rangers scored Sunday feel like an offensive breakthrough.
A timely breakthrough.
The Rangers are in Canada, assuming they made it through customs, for their biggest series to date, four games against the Blue Jays. The Rangers are chasing Toronto, which has a 1 1/2-game lead for the final American League wild-card berth.
Marcus Semien homered twice during a four-hit game, and he and Corey Seager went back-to-back in a four-run sixth inning that gave the Rangers a comfortable 9-4 victory. Also included in the sixth was the first career RBI for Evan Carter, who delivered a sacrifice fly to score Josh Smith after his first career triple.
Andrew Heaney, who was just moved from the rotation to the bullpen, struck out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jon Gray, who cruised through the first two innings but didn’t get out of the third.
The early hook for any starter could become more common the final three weeks. The Rangers need wins, and manager Bruce Bochy is going to remove an ineffective starter sooner than he normally would as long as there is a long reliever available.
Whatever it takes.
Facing the Blue Jays
With Nathan Eovaldi pitching again, Heaney was the choice to go to the bullpen instead of Dane Dunning, who will start the series-opener tonight.
The right-hander has been one of the Rangers’ best starters this season, though he was roughed up Tuesday by the Astros after replacing Eovaldi in the second inning. Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery and Eovaldi are scheduled for the final three games of the all-important series.
The Blue Jays can score, but they also have the league’s best ERA (3.66) and best rotation ERA (3.76). Of the four starters the Rangers will see, the highest ERA belongs to tonight’s starter, Chris Bassitt (3.69)
The Rangers haven’t played at the Rogers Centre since opening the season there last year.
A series win would move the Rangers into the wild-card lead. A sweep would give them their first winning season since 2016.
Jung this trip?
Third baseman Josh Jung will be racking up the frequent-flier miles this week.
The rookie will fly to Arizona to see his hand surgeon with the hope of being cleared to return to the lineup by the weekend at Cleveland.
Jung, who broke his left thumb last month, started swinging a bat last week and hit off a tee Friday. He said it didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel normal. In fact, part of the thumb has no feeling as nerves were cut during the operation to stabilize the fracture.
To say he’s been missed is an understatement. Should he return and help lead the Rangers to the postseason, he could still be named the AL Rookie of the Year.
The last week has been incredibly newsy with the Rangers, with players getting hurt (Garcia) and getting healthy (Jung) and getting promoted. First-rounder pick Wyatt Langford is now at Double A Frisco, 17-year-old shortstop Sebastian Walcott is at playoff-bound High A Hickory and Carter is in the majors. It was all covered in some way, shape or form by Rangers Today, which you can access for $5.99 a month or $60 a year. It’s good stuff. Here’s some of our latest content, in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: The final countdown
Friday on the Farm: Carter and who else?
It’s Monday. Just try to hang on. Enjoy.
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Jeff Wilson, email@example.com