Thursday newsletter time: Marcus Semien sparks Rangers after being plunked by Astros
(AP photo/Kevin M. Cox)
Houston manager Dusty Baker called the Astros’ win Monday night the best of their season, and the 10-9 walk-off triumph was just as good for them as it was bad for the Rangers.
The Rangers’ 13-5 win Wednesday night not have been their best of the season, but it might be looked back upon as one of the most important.
They roared back from an early 3-0 deficit with 13 unanswered runs, a rally that was sparked by what the Rangers believed was an intentional hit by pitch of second baseman Marcus Semien from Framber Valdez. Semien certainly thought it was intentional as Houston retaliated for Andrew Heaney hitting Yordan Alvarez on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning.
Nate Lowe connected for a two-run shot two batters after Semien was plunked, and Semien responded with a three-run homer in the fourth and plenty of smack talk as he rounded the bases.
He was still talking as he rounded the bases on Adolis Garcia’s fifth-inning grand slam. He and catcher Martin Maldonado got into it, the benches cleared, and both players were ejected.
“It was a big game for us,” Semien said. “I got hit with a four-seam fastball from a sinkerballer. I thought it was on purpose. I scored on a home run [by Lowe], and I told Martin we were going to win the game.”
But the damage had been done, and the Rangers might have found a spark that could carry them for a while.
“I love the way they responded,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Marcus fired everybody up.”
The win also restored a two-game lead in the American League West. A loss would have created a tie atop the standings.
“I think it’s huge for them,” Bochy said. “You get down three runs, they just didn’t have any quit in them.”
Just before the fireworks started, catcher Jonah Heim was in the clubhouse being evaluated for what was called left wrist soreness. His reaction made it seem worse than that.
He was clearly bothered after a swing in the fourth inning, and he was quickly pulled. Sam Huff came in as a pinch hitter with a 2-2 count and struck out on the next pitch.
Huff, though, homered in his next at-bat, connecting for a 443-foot home run with an exit velocity of 111 mph. Heaney, Jose Leclerc and Owen White all seemed to be comfortable throwing to Huff.
Mitch Garver, who was in the game at designated hitter, would likely assume primary catching duties should Heim need time on the injured list, but Huff was sizzling in Triple A Round Rock when recalled to take Corey Seager’s roster spot.
Garver is a free agent after the season, and Huff is his likely replacement on the roster. Any meaningful big-league time can only help Huff.
Ohtani staying put
The Angels were rained out Wednesday at Detroit, but there was plenty of news.
Multiple outlets reported that the Angels, who have been playing well of late, do not intend to trade Shohei Ohtani and will instead attempt to acquire pieces at the trade deadline to help push them into the postseason.
They did just that by trading two prospects to the White Sox for right-handed starter Lucas Giolito and righty reliever Reynaldo Lopez.
Ohtani is the best player in the game and can be a free agent after the season. The Angels have gone on their current hot streak without Mike Trout, Brandon Drury and Anthony Rendon, who are expected to return before the end of the season.
The Angels are seven games behind the Rangers in the West and four games out of the final wild-card spot.
Many suspected that Angels owner Arte Moreno wouldn’t trade Ohtani regardless of where the team was in the standings. The Angels now run the risk of receiving only a draft pick after the second round should Ohtani leave after the season via free agency.
They might also gut their farm system with another trade or two to overhaul the team in what is expected to be Ohtani’s final year in Anaheim.
Oh, to be No. 8. Enjoy.
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