Thursday newsletter time: Sweep, runs elude Rangers in finale vs. Angels
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — Go ahead and file that one under “That’s baseball.”
It’s a massive file of the unexplained, where crazy occurrences find a home. The only explanation stumped players can offer is, “That’s baseball.”
The Rangers were thinking that Wednesday after a 2-0 loss to the Angels in which they were held hitless into the eighth inning by a pitcher who entered with a 5.27 ERA. The Rangers scored 19 runs in the first two games of the series.
Reid Detmers, though, shut down the highest-scoring team in the American League and didn’t allow a hit until Marcus Semien’s one-out double in the eighth. The Rangers collect two hits to start the ninth and bring the winning run to the plate, and they just missed tying the game.
Jonah Heim’s line drive down the right-field line hooked just foul before he struck out, and Travis Jankowski’s deep flyball didn’t carry enough to clear the fence in right-center field.
“We were an inch away from tying the game,” Semien said.
Two relievers made solo homers by Shohei Ohtani and Matt Thaiss stand. Jon Gray allowed the Ohtani homer in the first inning on a pitch he thought he had executed.
“He’s a different kind player,” Gray said.
Gray did well to limit the Angels over seven innings, even though he still isn’t happy with how he’s pitching. He said that he feels right only 20 percent of the time. Of late, that 20 percent has been pretty good, and he’s encouraged by that as he searches for the answers.
The Rangers have lost three straight games in which they’ve had the chance to finish off a sweep. Two of them have been shutouts and the other nearly was.
“I think last homestand we did what we’re supposed to do,” Semien said. “I wouldn’t say we’re bad at sweeping teams. It’s just the last three series it’s been tough to finish them off.”
The Rangers are off today before a three-game series against the Brewers and will take a 2 1/2-game lead in the American League West into the weekend.
Leiter in town
Media who showed up early enough Wednesday were able to catch a glimpse of right-hander Jack Leiter, who threw live batting practice in what was described as nothing more than a data-gathering effort as he continues to work on honing his craft from the developmental list at Double A Frisco.
For as innocent as it was portrayed to be, most members of the front office, Bochy, pitching coach Mike Maddux, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and special assistants and Rangers Hall of Famers Michael Young and Ian Kinsler all watched from the home dugout, behind the plate or behind the mound.
Bochy and Maddux both said the stuff looked good, but they haven’t seen Leiter enough to know if his mechanics looked any different. Those who have seen him throughout the season declined comment for whatever reason.
The expectation is that Leiter will be pitching again this season, though it won’t be too much with the regular seasons winding down. If they Rangers want him to make up the innings he’s missing, he could be a candidate to pitch in fall instructs or the Arizona Fall League so that he can catch up on innings.
He’s healthy, which is good, but the 2021 first-rounder did not take the jump the club was hoping he would this season. Maybe removing him from competition will lead to that step, but it will be 2024 before anyone knows for sure.
Winning series, as Gray said, remains the goal. That doesn’t mean the Rangers weren’t disappointed to not finish off the sweep Wednesday, because they were. But do what they are going to do tonight and enjoy a pause from baseball. Let your minds and nerves rest, and catch up on the latest from Rangers Today (sign up here for full access) in case you missed it.
Rangers notes: Outfield in motion?
The Sunday Read: The week that was
Magic carpet ride. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) August 16, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com