Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers’ winning rally comes after Bruce Bochy’s ejection
(AP photo/Julio Cortez)
Bruce Bochy is a big man. He has to be to hold up a melon that size.
Plate umpire Ben May is about as short as his name. When he bowed up in the seventh inning after hearing it from the bench after not giving the Rangers a close call, he found out how big Bochy is.
May ejected Bochy, who then limped toward May and unleashed weeks’ worth of frustration while towering over the umpire. In the process, he might have woken up his struggling team.
Adolis Garcia homered, Josh Jung delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh, Aroldis Chapman recorded five critical outs out of the bullpen and Jose Leclerc closed out a 6-4 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak. The biggest out of the game might have been Bochy getting thrown out.
“The whole reason he’s doing that is to light a fire under us, and it worked tonight,” Jung said.
The Rangers gained a game on the Astros in the American League West and are now a half-game out of the division lead. The Rangers remained tied with the Mariners for second place in the West and for the third wild-card spot, and they are a game behind the Blue Jays for the second wild card.
Garcia homered in the second inning to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead, and he started a two-run rally in the sixth with a 10-pitch walk. Garcia scored on a double by Johan Heim, and Heim scored on a two-out, two-strike single by Leody Taveras.
Boston countered quickly in the seventh. After Bochy was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, Corey Seager’s throwing error allowed the Red Sox to tie the game and put runners at second and third with one out.
The Rangers went to Chapman, who froze the red-hot Rafael Devers and then got Justin Turner to bounce to Jung as he ranged to his left.
Marcus Semien and Seager reached to start the eighth, and Jung delivered Semien with one out. Heim later worked a bases-loaded walk for a key insurance run, but it wasn’t needed as Chapman and Leclerc were perfect in the eighth and ninth.
“We had a fresh Chappy there, and we knew we had to use him to get out of a jam,” Bochy said. “We’ve got to find a way to win a ballgame. He saved us, no doubt.”
Bochy said that the Rangers looked determined. Starter Nathan Eovaldi said the team had more energy. Both noted that contributions came from everyone.
That includes the manager.
“Frustration, sure. But, hey, it’s part of the game,” he said. “I was just kidding with the staff, ‘Hey, I need to leave the dugout more.’ ”
Hey, whatever it takes over the final 11 games.
It’s true. The AL’s best hitter went three games without a hit for the first time this season Saturday through Tuesday and was staring at fourth until his single in the seventh inning snapped a season-high 0-for-14 skid.
The hit pushed his average up a tick to .333, which is 10 points ahead of Tampa Bay first baseman Yandy Diaz. Seager is seeking to become the first Rangers player to win a batting title since Josh Hamilton hit .359 in 2010 en route to winning the AL MVP.
Hamilton, you’ll remember, missed almost all of September with a rib injury after crashing into the center-field wall at Target Field during Labor Day weekend. He returned in the final week of the season, but his timing was still missing in the AL Division Series win over the Rays.
It came back for the AL Championship Series against the Yankees, and Hamilton was selected as the series MVP.
Speaking of Hamilton and 2010, Seager is the first Rangers player since Hamilton in 2010 to have at least 40 doubles and 30 homers. Hamilton had 40 doubles and 32 circuit clouts. Seager has 41 and 31.
Not all that long ago fans were calling for Taveras to be benched in favor of top prospect Evan Carter, and some still want Taveras to be traded away this offseason to clear room for Carter to be the everyday center fielder and Wyatt Langford to be the left fielder.
Even though Langford went 4 for 5 on Monday in his Triple A debut and Carter has impressed in the majors, everyone needs to cool their jets.
Taveras has been one of the Rangers’ best hitters this month, posting a .353 average and an .872 OPS in 16 games. The good start to September has lifted the switch-hitter’s average 10 points to .269, and on Tuesday he drew multiple walks for the first time this season.
He does need to walk more and strike out less, but who doesn’t these days?
Taveras is a contributing player on a playoff contender, as his 2.1 bWAR would indicate. His defense and speed will keep him in the majors for several seasons, be it as a lineup regular or a fourth outfielder.
He is also paired with Carter at the bottom of the lineup. If they continue to get on base ahead of Semien, Seager and Nate Lowe, good things are bound to happen.
Someone has some explaining to do. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) September 19, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org