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Thursday newsletter time: Dane Dunning was this close to two career firsts in Rangers’ win

(AP photo/LM Otero)

 

The only inning Wednesday night that Dane Dunning didn’t pitch while protecting a lead was the first inning, and only because the Rangers hadn’t batted yet.

He returned for the second inning up four as the offense picked up where it left off Tuesday and kept on hitting.

A big lead makes life much easier for a starting pitcher.

“We’re up so much that all the pressure is gone,” Dunning said.

The Rangers ended up with their 18th double-digit runs output, but Dunning was so good that they didn’t need all of it.

Dunning came within a step of his first career complete game and shutout before settling for a 10-2 victory over the Tigers in which he tossed 8 2/3 innings.

It was even closer than that.

Former Rangers infielder Andy Ibanez just beat out an infield single to keep Detroit alive. The play was so close that the Rangers challenged it. Then, Kerry Carpenter followed with a two-run homer to spoil Dunning’s bid.

“It’s tough to pitch much better than that,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Dunning didn’t walk any hitters and struck out 10. The Ibanez and Carpenter hits were just the third and fourth the Tigers mustered against Dunning.

“I had 10 strikeouts?” he said. “That kind of surprises me. I thought I had way more groundballs than strikeouts. I felt comfortable, in rhythm and focused.”

The Rangers will hit the official halfway point of the season this afternoon at 49-31 and leading the American League West by six games over the Angels and Astros.

Dunning improved to 7-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.69. He’s been one of the surprises of the season on a team that should no longer be a surprise.

Two other surprises are Leody Taveras and Ezequiel Duran, who both provided go-ahead hits Tuesday and had two hits apiece Wednesday. Duran homered in the eighth inning Tuesday to jump-start a five-run inning and homered Wednesday in a four-run first.

Josh Jung and Adolis Garcia also homered.

Speaking of Jung and Garcia …

Final hours to vote

Voting for the 2023 All-Star Game ends this morning at 11, and the Rangers need a strong finish to ensure their first All-Star starter since Josh Hamilton in 2012. Vote here.

Jung and Garcia are two of the Rangers’ five finalists, and Garcia is the only one not in position to be voted as starter July 11 in Seattle. Jung leads at third base, Jonah Heim is narrowly ahead at catcher, and second baseman Marcus Semien and Corey Seager have sizeable advantages at second base and shortstop.

Garcia is fifth in the six-man outfield race, though two of players ahead of him are injured and won’t play in the Midsummer Classic. If either is elected, the replacement starter would be selected by the player vote.

Garcia, who has 20 home runs and 66 RBIs, could still start the game, but that’s missing a key point: He should be voted as a starter.

Bradford gets nod

Left-hander Cody Braford will be the Rangers’ starting pitcher this afternoon in a move that gives the Rangers their top two starting pitchers for the Astros series this weekend.

Jon Gray would be on normal rest today, but he and fellow right-hander Nathan Eovaldi are now in a position to start Friday and Saturday against Houston. Left-hander Andrew Heaney and Martin Perez could start Sunday and Monday.

The Rangers could even split up the lefties if they wanted, and they might want to.

Bradford retired the only two batters he faced Monday in his first appearance since a June 13 spot start. It was apparent then that the outing and extended warmup were serving as a bullpen day in preparation for today’s start.

Gray was never listed as the starter by the Rangers.

ICYMI …

The Rangers came home after making news seemingly every day on their six-game road trip, but so far this eight-game homestand hasn’t been very newsworthy. That will change today as the All-Star starters are announced. Until then, catch up on the latest with the Rangers Today empire, in case you missed it.

Down on the farm: Sebastian Walcott in Arizona

What the All-Star candidates are facing

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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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