Thursday newsletter time: Defense (gasp!) helps Rangers hold off Angels
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — The Rangers must be better defensively next season if they are to contend for the postseason, as owner Ray Davis said they will.
The first step is making the plays they are supposed to make. If there’s an out to be had, the Rangers need to have it.
Turning difficult plays into outs are an added bonus.
Defense carried the day Wednesday for the Rangers in their 7-2 victory over the Angels. The Rangers turned three double plays and Josh Smith made a difficult catch at the left-field wall as Dane Dunning and three relievers allowed only three hits after the Angels’ two-run first inning.
Smith also homered, connecting for the first of his career that carried over an outfield wall. His first July 11 was an inside-the-park homer.
“Finally,” he said. “That felt good.”
Smith had two RBIs, as did Leody Taveras on a two-hit night. His second hit came with the bases loaded in the eighth and, thanks to an Angels error, cleared the bases.
Smith’s catch in the angle in left field robbed Matt Duffy of a second-inning double. Marcus Semien turned a hard grounder from Mike Trout into a double play in the third.
Shortstop Corey Seager later ran down a blooper with an over-the-shoulder basket catch and then threw to first to double up Taylor Ward. Left-hander Brock Burke was in self-defense mode when he snagged a Ward line drive and doubled off Shohei Ohtani at first.
“I thought it was a lot harder than 89 mph,” Burke said. “I got two outs. That’s all that matters.”
That play and a few others were the difference Wednesday.
“We’ve got to play good defense,” interim manager Tony Beasley said. “If we pitch and defend well, we’re going to have a chance to win almost every night.”
Jung in a funk
Josh Jung has never seen pitching like he is seeing in the major leagues.
Even pitchers with a 6.96 ERA, as was the case with Angels starter Tucker Davidson, are able to make a ball do something that Jung didn’t see very often at Triple A Round Rock.
And there might be some pressing from Jung. Maybe a little overthinking.
“It’s too early to tell,” Beasley said. “He’s still adjusting.”
Jung struck out in all four of his at-bats Wednesday. The Rangers were prepared for the struggles Jung is dealing with now.
His average is down to .213 after going hitless in three of the past four games, including a current 0-for-8 stretch, and he still hasn’t drawn a walk.
He has batted 45 times and struck out 25 times.
“The big leagues is the big leagues for a reason,” Beasley said. “It’s the best players in the world, so he’s seeing elite pitching.
“This is a level where teams are trying to pitch to what you don’t do well, not what you do do well. The mistakes are minimized at this level. That’s a part of the adjustments and learning curve that he will have to endure.”
I’ve finally pinned down why I’ve been shocked of late to find out that it is indeed Thursday. It’s the Monday off days the Rangers have been having. Messes up everything. Makes Tuesday feel like Monday and so on and so forth. Soon, though, that won’t be an issue. The Rangers have another Monday off next week, but the 2023 season is quickly ticking away. That doesn’t mean that Rangers Today is going away. On the contrary. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss any of the offseason news we will be cranking out. Now, here’s our latest in case you missed it.
The Sunday Read: Another 2023 bench candidate?
T.R.’s Memoirs: The career of Tom Grieve (Part I)
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Rangers Today Baseball Podcast: Prospect talk with Jim Callis
I think I’m that friend, especially on planes at any time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Enjoy. See you Friday
We all have that one friend that can sleep anywhere… 😂 pic.twitter.com/b6AoLR7Hm0
— The Woof World (@TheWoofWorld) August 31, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org