Monday newsletter time: Road trip turns sour as Rangers swept out of Cleveland
(AP photo/Phil Long)
The Rangers came home Sunday evening with four wins on a seven-game road trip and with their position in the postseason picture better than it was a week ago.
That’s the optimistic, 30,000-foot view.
But the road trip ended in disappointment. The Rangers won the first four games at Toronto by doing just about nothing wrong. They coughed up nine runs Sunday in the fourth inning en route to a 9-2 loss and being swept by the below.-500 Guardians.
The Rangers missed multiple opportunities to overtake the Astros for first place in the American League West and to pad their advantage over the Mariners in the wild-card race.
They will open a six-game homestand tonight still in the thick of the postseason hunt with 13 games to go but will do so 1 1/2 games behind the Astros and a game ahead of the Mariners for the third and final wild-card spot.
“It’s a humbling game,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Rangers scored only six runs in three games at Progressive Field while Cleveland scored 23. The bullpen offered very little relief, though the rotation wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been.
The Rangers were shut out through eight innings Friday before scoring three in the ninth. They scored only once Saturday, and one of their two runs Sunday came in the ninth.
“We had one run again going in to the ninth, and that’s not going to work,” Bochy said.
Left-hander Cody Bradford started only three days after throwing 42 pitches in relief at Toronto. He tossed three scoreless innings to open his day Sunday, but ended up allowing six in the fourth. Jonathan Hernandez offered very little relief allowing the runners he inherited to score plus three more.
“We just had one of those innings,” Bochy said.
The Rangers have 13 games to go. They can’t afford any more of those innings.
Jung a go?
Third baseman Josh Jung could be activated from the injured list tonight against the Red Sox and dropped into a lineup that needs a jolt.
All indications are that his left thumb held up to baseball activity over the weekend at the Surprise Recreation Campus in Arizona. The thumb is not 100 percent and won’t be until a few months into the offseason, but it’s good enough and the stakes are high enough for him to return.
Jung has batted fifth most of the season. Bochy could consider moving Jonah Heim back to the sixth spot, swapping him with Robbie Grossman. Leody Taveras and Evan Carter have been pretty good at the bottom of the order, with Carter showing that he is a walking machine.
Expectations for Jung will likely be unreasonably high considering that he hasn’t played in more than a month. He didn’t go on a rehab assignment, as there just isn’t enough time to send him out, but the time in Arizona is more than Heim got before he can back.
Heim struggled off the injured list without a rehab assignment and still hasn’t matched his pre-injury form.
In the minors
Only two of the four full-season affiliates are still playing, as Double A Frisco’s season ended Sunday. High A Hickory finished its season last week after bowing out of the semifinals of the South Atlantic League playoffs.
The end of Frisco’s season didn’t mean the end of Wyatt Langford’s season, as the 2023 first-round pick is headed to Triple A Round Rock. He did not collect a hit in the Frisco finale, but he was excellent in his first taste of Double A. He batted .405 with a .519 on-base percentage, a .762 slugging percentage and four home runs.
So far this season Langford has 10 home runs, 26 extra-base hits, a .359 average and a 1.168 OPS in 142 at-bats.
That’s pretty good.
Right-hander Jack Leiter is also joining Round Rock, but he’s won’t be an active player. He might ended up being activated, but this feels like a chance for him to get a taste of Triple A for next season and to also continue working on his delivery.
Also still churning is Low A Down East, which opened the Carolina League championship series Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Charleston. Round Rock has a one-game lead for the Pacific Coast League playoffs with six games to go.
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Jeff Wilson, email@example.com