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Friday newsletter time: Rangers’ offense delivers behind Jack Leiter

(AP photo/Craig Lassig)

 

The big story Thursday in Detroit was the MLB debut of right-hander Jack Leiter.

The right-hander flashed what made him the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 draft and what work he has left to do before becoming an established major-league pitcher.

Truth be told, his pitching line paints a grim picture — seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. He should have made it through four innings with just four runs allowed, but a play that is usually made wasn’t (more on that below).

The good news is that the beleaguered offense came through in a 9-7 victory that gave the Rangers a series win over the Tigers.

Marcus Semien started the game with a home run, Jonah Heim hit one in the second inning and Adolis Garcia connected in third. The Rangers again took advantage of some sloppy Tigers defense for the second straight game, and Kirby Yates again recorded the final four outs to preserve the win.

The Rangers saw production up and down the lineup just in time for a trip to Atlanta and a three-game series of World Series contenders. The hitters provided Leiter with a 4-0 lead in the second inning and a 7-4 edge in the fourth, but the Tigers erased both.

Leiter wasn’t great but wasn’t awful. Manager Bruce Bochy said Leiter was “fine,” and that’s about right. He didn’t do anything that would automatically earn him a second start, but he also didn’t do anything to make the Rangers question their judgment in calling him up.

Don’t be surprised if he is optioned back to Triple A Round Rock for a fresh bullpen arm. Round Rock doesn’t have many of those right now, so maybe the Rangers try to sneak through a couple of days in Atlanta with Leiter perhaps ready to pitch an inning or two Sunday.

Thursday won’t be the last the Rangers see of Leiter this season.

The offense, meanwhile, is going to show up frequently.

What a day

The play that ultimately did Leiter in was a flyball to center field that Leody Taveras didn’t catch. Granted, it was a deep flyball hit by Kerry Carpenter, but Taveras seemed to have it in his sights the entire way to the warning track … until it somehow went over his head.

It went down as a two-run triple with two outs, and the next batter, Spencer Torkelson, ripped a double to left-center on what might have been Leiter’s worst pitch of the game.

Taveras attempted to redeem himself with an eighth-inning double just inside the left-field line. Semien followed with a grounder to shortstop, and Taveras initially broke for third and ended up in a rundown.

Just when it look as if he had made another costly mistake, he somehow avoided the tag of Tigers third baseman Gio Urshela and was safe at third. Taveras scored the go-ahead run on that next play, a Corey Seager grounder that was speared by Torkelson but his throw to second was wide.

Taveras came through in the ninth with a single to left field that plated a key insurance run.

Whew.

The wild ride at Comerica Park was part of an otherwise good but unlucky road trip for Taveras, who has stung the ball in many at-bats with little to show for it.

Montgomery ready

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery will make his Diamondbacks debut tonight after a drawn-out free agency that saw him sign shortly after spring training.

Montgomery made two starts in the minors and wasn’t particularly good, allowing nine runs in 7 2/3 innings.

He will be opposed by fellow Boras Four member Blake Snell, who also held out in hopes of a massive deal before signing late in spring training with the Giants.

He remains a Boras client. Montgomery, though, parted ways with the super agent after, presumably, failing to cash in on promises Boras couldn’t keep.

It was reported several times throughout the offseason that Montgomery preferred a return to the Rangers, who acquired him at the 2023 trade deadline. He was instrumental in helping the Rangers win the World Series, but the Rangers’ TV uncertainty and the threat of surpassing the second luxury-tax threshold kept a deal from happening.

 

 

Card of the Week

T.R. Sullivan said about three months ago that he was flirting with an idea along the lines of the great baseball book The Boys of Summer.

He would take on the role of author Roger Kahn, but rather than writing about the Brooklyn Dodgers, T.R. would right about various Rangers he encountered over 32 seasons as a beat man.

T.R. is retired. He works at his own pace. I didn’t press him. He said last week that it was time for him to start writing again, and the result was the opener of what he’s calling the Boys of Arlington.

The subject is Elvis Andrus, whose 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospect 1st Bowman is the Card of the Week.

As you might recall, Andrus came from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade, and as T.R. explains, the Rangers received an energetic player who knew what it took to win a ballgame.

T.R. also wonders if Andrus, released by the Diamondbacks in spring training, might never play again.

If so, it would stink, but Father Time comes for everybody. The good news is that it would hasten Andrus’ entry into the Rangers Hall of Fame.

He was an integral part of the Rangers’ success in the 2010s. He belongs in the team’s Hall and deserves some recognition from the club when he does retire.

Doggy video!

Find something that makes you as happy as that bone makes this dog. 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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