Thursday newsletter time: 6-0 start to second half tops Rangers’ list of good news
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
The Rangers resumed their season Friday after the All-Star break with a nine-game homestand, all against, at the time, division leaders.
Two down, one to go.
The Rangers ran their record to 6-0 since the All-Star break Wednesday with a 5-1 victory over the Rays to complete a second straight three-game sweep. The Rays, the best team in the American League almost all season, are now in second-place in the AL East, percentage points behind the Orioles.
The Rangers dispatched Cleveland, which entered atop the American League Central, over the weekend.
Next up are the Dodgers, who are back atop the National League West. The series, which starts Friday, will be the first time Corey Seager has faced his former team. He gets the chance to show them what they’re missing.
The Dodgers will also see Andrew Heaney, who pitched for them last season. Dane Dunning is scheduled for Saturday and Martin Perez on Sunday as the Rangers break up the two left-handers.
Los Angeles will see a Rangers offense that has figured things out late in games. On Wednesday, catcher Heim swatted a three-run homer to put the Rangers up 5-0.
Seager hit the late three-run bomb Tuesday, and Ezequiel Duran hit a two-run shot Monday in the sixth to tie the game.
Leody Taveras drove in the Rangers’ first two runs on a solo homer in the third and an RBI single in the seventh.
The pitching has held up, and the Rangers were tested Wednesday when Jon Gray was hit in the shin by a line drive in the fifth inning and had to leave the game. X-rays were negative, as were x-rays on Adolis Garcia after he was hit by a pitch above the left elbow.
Brock Burke was good in an emergency appearance after Gray left, and Cody Bradford allowed the lone run in the ninth.
In between them …
To the delight of those who follow Rangers prospects, right-hander Alex Speas is now a major-league ballplayer.
The Rangers purchased his contract from Triple A Round Rock, optioned left-hander John King and designated left-hander Taylor Hearn for assignment. A few hours later, Speas found himself in a 1-0 ballgame in the seventh inning.
He faced four batters, struck out three of them, and registered five outs thanks to Heim throwing out Manuel Margot after Wander Franco struck out.
Rangers Today wrote about Speas’ story in April. He opened up about why he took last season off, needing a mental reset after another injury in 2021 and some frustration with the direction of his career. He also had a young daughter at home he was missing.
Whatever happened last year (he coached little league and kept throwing), it’s made a world of difference. He’s throwing more strikes than ever. A lack of control and injuries had kept the 2016 second-rounder from reaching even Triple A.
Well, he’s made it now. Good for him.
What about Hearn?
The flip side to the good Speas news is that another good story, that of the hometown kid Hearn, might be coming to an end.
If the hard-throwing lefty clears waivers, the Rangers will assign him outright to Round Rock, where he has spent much of the season after a shaky spring and a couple shaky weeks in April.
It’s possible he hasn’t been put on waivers yet because teams might be calling about a trade. Ricky Vanasco, who was DFA’d earlier in the season, never hit waivers and was traded to the Dodgers.
If Hearn is placed on waivers and is claimed, he’s gone. The Rangers would rather get something for him than lose him for nothing.
Hearn, from Royse City, throws hard. When he’s commanding his fastball, he can be an effective reliever. He just doesn’t do that enough. While his 54 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings are good, the 24 walks aren’t good enough. He has a 3.66 ERA and a .232 opponents average in a hitter’s league, but he has a 1.50 WHIP.
Every player has his own path. Some find theirs sooner than others. Look at Speas.
The week isn’t over yet and the Rangers are rolling in good news. They don’t play today and there will still be news as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stops in town to unveil the 2024 All-Star Game logo. Much of the news this week can be found in our free daily newsletters. We also left the Wyatt Langford breaking news story (more good news) free. Not everything is free, though, and to get all our content, sign up for full access beginning at $5.99. Now, here’s our latest in case you missed it.
Look at them pounce once they take him down. Trained killers. Enjoy.
Pure Joy 🥰 pic.twitter.com/2TimBZNO4x
— Madeyousmile (@Thund3rB0lt) July 19, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com