Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers trending up after another close win
(AP photo/Adam Hunger)
The Rangers didn’t come out and score 20 runs Tuesday after rallying a night earlier for a needed victory.
In fact, they didn’t score until the seventh inning, and they scored only twice.
That was enough.
Mitch Garver broke a scoreless tie with his fourth home run on the road trip, and Ezequiel Duran singled in a key insurance run in the ninth as the Rangers beat the Mets 2-1.
That’s two straight wins and victories in three of their past four games. It might not sound like much, but it’s a start after losing eight straight and 9 of 10.
Andrew Heaney didn’t allow a run in 5 1/3 innings, and Will Smith delivered a scoreless eighth inning that included a highlight-reel play in which he fielded a bunt and flipped the ball with his glove for the final out.
The Rangers have a chance for a three-game sweep tonight as Dane Dunning takes the mound. They might need more than two runs, especially considering their odd shortfalls in recent series finales, but they were recently challenged by Marcus Semien to manufacture runs.
“Marcus spoke up the other day and challenged everybody to see if we could win without the three-run homer, without scoring 10 runs and to play those tight games,” Garver said.
After the bullpen’s lapses Sunday at Minnesota, the Rangers have seen relievers allow only one run the past two games.
“We’re playing well in close games the last two days, and that’s what we need to do because I think we’re going to play a lot of them,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Garver has been one of the Rangers’ best hitters this month and on the road trip, which coincided with an increase in playing time following Jonah Heim’s wrist injury. Garver has 13 homers, matching the second-highest total of his career.
When he’s healthy, he’s a force.
“Just feeling comfortable at the plate, feeling good and being on attack mode,” Garver said. “I think that’s super important. If we can get everybody clicking on that level, we’ll be scoring runs and taking pressure off our pitchers.”
Chapman comfort level
Aroldis Chapman got the final three outs to seal the win, but it wasn’t a clean inning. The big left-hander allowed a two-out solo homer to No. 8 hitter Mark Vientos.
Chapman has had three save chances on the road trip and allowed a run in each. This was the first time that run didn’t result in a blown save, something the Rangers have made a specialty of this season.
That’s not great. Those aren’t the immediate results the Rangers are seeking.
But it’s been only eight games, and Chapman managed to limit damage after surrendering the runs. He comes back with fastballs at 102 mph, and no one really wants to face him.
He’s still Aroldis F. Chapman, and he’s the Rangers’ closer.
Angels waive white flag
The Angels might be shaking up the playoff picture for the second time in five weeks.
They put five notable players on waivers Tuesday: left-hander Matt Moore, right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk.
The players are expected to clear waivers Thursday, just in time for teams to pick them up for the prorated minimum salary and have them be eligible for the postseason.
Giolito and Lopez were acquired ahead of the trade deadline from the White Sox for the Angels’ No. 2 and No. 3 prospects. Grichuk came a few days later, along with C.J. Cron, from the Rockies.
Every contender could find use for at least one of the five. The Rangers would upgrade their bullpen with Lopez and could add some right-handed offensive punch with Renfroe.
MLB does not permit trades after the trade deadline, so the players will be claimed waivers. Per waiver rules, claims are awarded in reverse order of the standings, meaning that teams with the worst winning percentages get first dibs.
Twenty-four teams have worse records than the Rangers, including, arguably, eight postseason contenders.
Don’t expect all five to be available when it’s the Rangers’ turn to select.
The Angels, meanwhile, will get only payroll relief, and it’s miniscule at that. If this is their attempt to recoup their losses from the ill-fated decision to go for it at the trade deadline, it’s pretty weak.
They are getting pennies on the dollar and also disturbing postseason races with what amounts to the old Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, minus the trades. The guess here is that the commissioner isn’t thrilled with the Angels’ roster management.
Of course, the Angels’ decision to not trade Shohei Ohtani has blown up in their faces, right along with his elbow.
What a disaster, but no one should be surprised at this point. It’s the Angels.
Ah, this is what they mean by lickety split. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) August 29, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com