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Wednesday newsletter time: Another Rangers win, this time without the drama

(Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

 

Don’t look now, but the Rangers are rolling.

The defending World Series champs have won four straight games and are five games above .500 for the first time this season.

A doubleheader today might get in the way of the winning streak, as it’s tough to win two on the same day, but it’s safe to say that the Rangers are playing much better even with multiple players on the injured list.

A team just trying to survive might be on the verge of breaking out.

They aren’t perfect, though no team ever is. They looked very good early on Wednesday in a 15-8 victory that featured a 10-run second inning. Marcus Semien homered on the game’s first pitch and was 3 for 3 by the end of the second inning before finishing a triple shy of the cycle.

He drove in five runs.

Jonah Heim collected a career-high four hits, Leody Taveras had three and even Corey Seager had a couple singles before getting most of the game off with the Rangers leading by as much as 15-2.

The early cushion was a contrast to their previous two wins, both in the late innings after trailing 2-0 after seven.

Jose Ureña gave the Rangers five innings in a spot start, and they managed to get through the rest of the game with three relievers. Two of them, Jonathan Hernandez and Yerry Rodriguez, logged more than 40 pitches and won’t be available for the doubleheader.

Don’t be surprised if Rodriguez is optioned back to Triple A Round Rock. Hernandez and Urena don’t have any minor-league options, and the Rangers would have to designate them for assignment to get them off the active roster.

The Rangers could swap Rodriguez for Jack Leiter and promote a reliever as the 27th man for the doubleheader.

Leiter official

The right-handed prospect will make the second start of his career today in Game 2 of the doubleheader, and more could be in store with Nathan Eovaldi on the injured list.

Leiter has been terrific this season at Triple A Round Rock, pitching to a 2.84 ERA. He has filled up the strike zone, which he did not do over 3 2/3 innings April 18 in his MLB debut at Detroit. He was charged with seven runs allowed.

He told reporters Tuesday that his second start feels closer to normal, or at least doesn’t have the same significance as his debut. The spotlight won’t be as bright.

Leiter, the second overall pick in the 2021 draft (Vanderbilt), will be pitching in a pitcher-friendly ballpark against a lineup that has trouble scoring runs, and he has faced many of the A’s hitters during his two seasons at Double A Frisco.

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen will start the first game.

 

Hernandez’s woes

The very first pitch Hernandez threw went due left into the ground and toward the Rangers’ dugout. He tripped on the Oakland Coliseum mound, which has never been the favorite among visiting players.

He threw 41 more pitches, only 17 of them strikes, recorded only two outs and walked five. He also appeared to raise the ire of manager Bruce Bochy and stump pitching coach Mike Maddux with essentially very little idea of where the ball was going.

Hernandez was once thought to be a future closer or shutdown setup man, but he continues to be an enigma. The stuff can be great, with a 98-mph sinker, but then he puts together shaky outings that erase a lot of the goodwill he has built up.

Because he’s out of options, he probably manages to stay on the roster. With the Rangers short on relief depth in the minors, they can’t afford to be shedding pitchers.

But Hernandez’s future with the club is not the certainty many thought it was entering last season.

He was so off Tuesday that maybe it was just an odd, singular occurrence. Even if that’s the case, Hernandez needs to be better.

Doggy video!

Also applies to a 49-year-old sportswriter. 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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2 Comments

  1. Monty W May 8, 2024

    Super proud of Ureña. He had that dog in him and fought through that 2nd inning. He continued to grit out 5 innings and get the win. Very proud of him.

    Reply
  2. Jeff Wilson May 8, 2024

    Big fan of Urena. Seems like a good guy. Works incredibly hard.

    Reply

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