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Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers can’t take series vs. Astros as lefties falter

(Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)

 

ARLINGTON — The first four games this season against the Astros are finished, and the Rangers might be looking at a glass half-empty.

Houston pulled off a split at Globe Life Field despite losing the first two games by a combined score of 17-4. The Rangers watched an early three-run lead slip away Monday night in the finale, which they lost 10-5 despite scoring five times in the first inning.

Left-hander Andrew Heaney couldn’t take advantage of the good fortune he received after allowing two first-inning runs. He quickly gave back two more in the second and another pair in the fourth.

“Not a whole lot was working,” Heaney said. “It wasn’t a good night.”

He and lefty reliever Brock Burke were their own worst enemies, unable to retire the two Astros lefty hitters in the lineup. Granted, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are All-Stars and MVP candidates, but they went 4 for 5 against the two lefties and drove in five runs.

Included in their production was a towering two-run homer by Alvarez, who hit a three-run homer Sunday in the Astros’ 3-1 victory. He also poked an 0-2 slider from Burke into right field to drive in the tying run and keep the fourth inning going for Tucker. He singled in two more.

“They both hit left-handers pretty good,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s all about making your pitches.”

The Rangers and Astros play again this weekend, this time at Minute Maid Park. Heaney will start against them in one of the games.

“So, I know what not to do,” he said.

The Rangers are home the next three games against the A’s, who were off Monday and enter riding a two-game winning streak.

Tough luck

On Sunday night, Justin Foscue had just collected his first career hit and RBI and was staring at this first career start.

By Monday afternoon, he was on the injured list.

The rookie infielder has a strained oblique that he felt during the swing that gave him the career-firsts. The Rangers are still awaiting results of an MRI before determining how long Foscue will be out.

With the A’s starting left-handers tonight and Thursday afternoon, the Rangers wanted a right-handed hitter on the roster, so they promoted infielder Davis Wendzel. He left a favorable impression on Bochy during his time in big-league spring training and got off to a hot start at Triple A Round Rock.

Wendzel can hit for power, which might have been the reason he was chosen over Jonathan Ornelas. Ornelas is on the 40-man roster and Wendzel was not. He is now after the Rangers transferred Josh Jung to the 60-day IL.

Eclipse watchers

The Rangers were among the millions of people who wandered outside just after 1:30 Monday afternoon to watch the total solar eclipse. The period of totality lasted from 1:40 to 1:44, when the street lights came on outside Globe Life Field as the skies went dark.

“It was cool as s—,” first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said.

His sentiments were echoed by everyone, minus the expletive. For the record, Rangers today is all for expletives.

“It was pretty cool,” infielder Josh Smith said. “I thought it would get kind of dark, but it was almost like nighttime.”

Bochy said the eclipse provided for some good team bonding as the players hung around a parking lot. The roof to the ballpark was closed during the eclipse and for the game.

Coaching malpractice?

No, I’m not a psychiatrist, but I am a sportswriter who has seen some things over the years. Astros starter Blair Henley, the rookie making his MLB debut in his hometown against his hometown team as a fill-in for left-hander Framber Valdez, needed some counseling in the first inning.

Henley opened by throwing seven straight balls, but catcher Victor Caratini didn’t come out. He and the rest of the infield met at the mound after Corey Seager and Wyatt Langford singled.

Henley then allowed another single to Adolis Garcia and walked Evan Carter. Only then did pitching coach Joshua Miller come to the mound. Too little, too late.

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux would have been out the after two batters, three at the most. He would have seen the nerves and extra adrenaline in warmups, and had some words of wisdom, a hand on the shoulder, for the rookie from Fort Worth and given him an idea of what to throw to the next hitter.

Things will get better for Henley, who went to Arlington Heights High School and then Texas. He’s not going to have a 135.000 ERA forever.

Taylor Hearn had a 108.000 ERA for what must have felt like forever after his debut in 2019, when he allowed five runs (four earned) while recording one out at Seattle. He was pitching for his hometown team. was injured in the process and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Hearn, by the way, is pitching for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.

Doggy video!

I’m not sure how this keeps happening, but I’m glad it does. 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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