Thursday newsletter time: Rangers were in trouble Wednesday before Astros’ six-run first inning
(AP photo/LM Otero)
ARLINGTON — Glenn Otto’s spot in the rotation came up again Wednesday, which was a problem because Otto is on the COVID injury list.
The Rangers decided they had only two options to fill the Otto void: right-hander Tyson Miller, who is on the roster as a COVID fill-in, and left-hander Kolby Allard.
Miller was the choice, and the Rangers were down 6-0 in the first inning when manager Chris Woodward came to get him.
Things didn’t get much better for the Rangers in an eventual 9-2 loss.
They were on the wrong side of history as the Astros became the first team in MLB history to record two immaculate innings in the same game.
An immaculate inning is three strikeouts on nine pitches, and Rangers hitters let that happen to them twice.
Also, utility man Charlie Culberson pitched the ninth inning .. and it might have been the Rangers’ best inning except that right fielder Adolis Garcia tweaked a knee making a catch. There is some concern with that one.
But the biggest issue was Miller, and not just the way he pitched. It was that he pitched, because the Rangers’ haven’t seen their pitching depth at Triple A Round Rock develop into quality big-league options.
”They haven’t performed as well,” Woodward said. “That’s something we’d like to see improve if we’re going to plug one of those guys into that spot.”
A.J. Alexy is on the 40-man roster, and Wednesday was his day to pitch for Round Rock. Alexy, though, entered Wednesday with a 7.19 ERA, which is high even for the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Cole Winn, who has a 5.33 ERA, pitched Sunday. Cole Ragans, who was terrific at Double A Frisco and will make his Triple A debut, but he isn’t on the 40-man roster (neither is Winn).
The Rangers weren’t just going to call up a starter just to have a starter.
“It’s a lot of moving parts if we did that,” Woodward said. “Tyson’s here for the COVID thing. There are a lot of logistical issues with that.”
The loss and the disastrous eighth inning Tuesday that led to a 4-3 loss left the Rangers heading to the airport with bad taste.
Their penance is a weekend in Detroit.
“Not fun the last two days,” utility man Brad Miller said.
Not running wild
The hallmark of the two Rangers teams manager Ron Washington took to the World Series was that players were aggressive on the bases.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus were the main culprits.
More than a decade later, Woodward wants the Rangers taking bases and putting constant pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses. The Rangers don’t win Monday night without two key steals in the eighth inning.
Culberson and Ezequiel Duran each swiped second base, but no one is afraid to step on the gas when the opportunity arises. Even catchers Mitch Garver, Sam Huff and Jonah Heim have stolen bases this season.
But Woodward made it clear Tuesday that the Rangers aren’t running with reckless abandon, though it works to their advantage when opponents think that.
“Teams are like, ‘They’re going just run. They’re running wild,'” Woodward said. “We’re not running wild. I can tell you that right now. We prepare too much to look that way. I know what our guys do every day and our staff is everything, so when we look like we’re careless, it helps us from a scouting standpoint.”
Woodward wants to create chaos on the bases, and Culberson and Duran created it. The Astros weren’t throwing the ball wildly, but they decided to play their infield in when Culberson and Duran reached third. That reduced the Astros’ chances of making a play on a ground ball, and the game-tying hit by Duran and the game-winning hit by Miller might not have made it out of the infield had the runners not been at third.
With Eli White, who underwent surgery on his broken right wrist Tuesday, out six to eight weeks, Garcia, Leody Taveras and Marcus Semien step in as the Rangers’ top threats to steal a base.
Every player, though, has a green light to run. With that, though, comes the occasional out on the bases. The Rangers shouldn’t think about pulling back, but should learn from a running miscue.
“What that team is going to give us we’re going to take that,” Woodward said. “The blunders, those are easy to [shut down]. We should minimize those.”
The bad part about vacations is all the catch-up required, and Rangers Today has almost caught its breath. Some good stuff is coming the next few days to go with the good stuff we’ve had the past few days. Here’s our latest, in case you missed it.
Rangers farm report: High-place sympathy for Leiter, Winn
T.R.’s Memoirs: Ranking the 50 Rangers seasons
The Sunday Read: Scattershooting the Rangers
Texas Rangers Baseball Podcast YouTube channel: Subscribe for free
Me on Sunday when the U.S. Open telecast begins. Enjoy. See you Friday.
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Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org