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Thursday newsletter time: Rangers survive in Jack Leiter’s second career start

(D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports)

 

Jack Leiter has started two major-league games, and the Rangers have won them both.

The rookie right-hander hasn’t had much to do with the success, though maybe he motivates Rangers hitters to score a bunch of runs.

They did that Wednesday at Oakland Coliseum, earning a split in a traditional doubleheader by turning back the A’s 12-11 in Game 2.

Oakland took the first game 9-4 and nearly erased a 12-7 deficit in the ninth inning of the nightcap, but Kirby Yates wiggled out of a mess created by rookie Owen White.

Leiter was better in his encore than in his debut, though marginally so after allowing six runs (four earned) in four innings. He allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings April 18 at Detroit.

Leiter was more efficient with his pitches, though he left too many over the heart of the plate. He didn’t walk anyone, but he allowed two homers as his command escaped him at the wrong time.

His next start could come with the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves even shorter on starting pitching with Dane Dunning joining Nathan Eovaldi, Cody Bradford, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Tyler Mahle on the injured list.

Leiter’s next start could also come back at Triple A Round Rock, depending on how the Rangers manipulate rotation after the day off today, or he could end up in the Rangers’ bullpen for a spell. White would seem to be a candidate to start a game the next time through the rotation, but his performance Wednesday didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

He faced three batters and issued three singles.

The Rangers scored their 12 runs in Game 2 without a home run. The only extra-base hit was an Adolis Garcia double that sparked a three-run eighth inning. Marcus Semien and Ezequiel Duran each collected three hits, and Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe drove in three runs apiece.

The bullpen managed to allow only one run behind Leiter until the ninth, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Josh Sborz had to leave his outing in the sixth inning with an injury after he struggled with his control and saw his velocity dip.

He was on the IL last month with a small strain in his rotator cuff.

After a slew of roster moves Wednesday, expect more Friday when the Rangers open a three-game series at Colorado.

Some perspective

The squeakiest wheels in the Rangers fan base tend to come out whenever things don’t go according to their plan. Leiter and White were in the crosshairs during and after Game 2, and the Robbie Grossman trade before the game (link below) wasn’t very popular.

Leiter and White are wildly inexperienced in an age when hitters have volumes of information on all pitchers, even the ones called up from Triple A. Scouts are good, though by the fourth game of a series, scouting reports aren’t as useful because hitters know how they are going to be pitched.

In acquiring Grossman, the Rangers surrendered Double A right-hander Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, whose name I had just mastered spelling. He’s a promising arm, with velocity approaching 100 mph and a wicked slider.

One tweeter called the trade Clase 2.0, a reference to the Rangers dealing Emmanuel Clase to Cleveland in the Corey Kluber deal. If Hoopii-Tuionetoa were that good, he would have reached the majors by now.

Keep in mind that he was also in Double A. Even with the injury woes and performance issues in the Rangers’ bullpen and at Triple A Round Rock, Hoopii-Tuionetoa was still in Double A.

He might be a great MLB reliever one day. As bad as the White Sox are, he should be in the majors this season.

But the Rangers needed a right-handed bat now, and Grossman posted a .953 OPS against left-handers last season. That fact escaped some, who said there had to be a better righty hitter available. Only a few teams are currently in give-up mode, and the Rangers felt they couldn’t wait on more to surrender.

General manager Chris Young acted quickly to address a need for the defending world champs, and fans should appreciate that. He’s probably looking for relief help, too, with Sborz hurt and others struggling.

Keep a few other things in mind: The Rangers, despite all of their injuries, are five games above .500 and atop the American League West. They also aren’t the Astros, who are a dreadful 12-23 and in last place.

All-Star help needed

The Rangers sent out notice that they and Major League Baseball are seeking 600 workers ages 18 and older to help make the All-Star Game experience run smoothly for fans.

The primary responsibilities will be at the All-Star Village, where fans will run through interactive experiences, and in guest services covering duties such as helping fans find their way and sign up for the All-Star Experience Pass.

This isn’t volunteer work. Those who are hired will be paid and also receive an All-Star Experience Team performance shirt, MLB All-Star Experience Team hat, MLB All-Star cinch bag, MLB All-Star Game water bottle, commemorative All-Star Experience Team baseball and unlimited access to the All-Star Village.

But you can’t just show up. Applicants must attend a virtual information session in June before learning if they will be hired. Required training will also take place before All-Star Week, which will run from July 13 to July 16.

Learn more and apply here.

ICYMI …

It really is true: There is always something going on with the Rangers. Between injuries, trades, promotions and demotions, news is never in short supply. Wednesday was nuts in that regard. But news sells, and Rangers Today would much rather have that than a bunch of clickbait. Join the fun here. Check out our latest content below, in case you missed it.

Max Scherzer latest

Grossman returns, Dunning to IL

The ups and the downs

Pete Incaviglia mania: Part 1. Part 2

Doggy video!

No horsin’ around! 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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