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Tuesday newsletter time: Dane Dunning paves way for Rangers’ fourth straight win

(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)


Aroldis Chapman hit 103 mph and Ezequiel Duran put a good swing on a ball, both of which thrilled fans Monday night at Globe Life Field.

The winning run coming home on a walk-off wild pitch, though, was the most popular thing from the Rangers’ 3-2 win over Tampa Bay.

But the key to the Rangers’ fourth straight win was, as is almost always the case for the winning team, the starting pitcher.

Dane Dunning allowed two runs in seven innings, steadying his outing after allowing single runs in the first two frames. When a starter goes seven innings, it takes a lot of bullpen guesswork out of the equation.

Manager Bruce Bochy was able to go with the best available relievers, who on Monday were Jose Leclerc and Chapman.

Leclerc worked a perfect eighth to get the game to Chapman, who was filthy in the ninth. Will Smith was unavailable after pitching Saturday and Sunday.

“We need guys to step up when both guys can’t go,” Bochy said of Leclerc’s outing. “He has a lot of experience back there.”

The biggest inning of the game might have been the seventh. The Rangers stayed with Dunning after Duran had tied the game with a two-run homer against Cy Young contender Shane McClanahan in his first start of the injured list. Dunning posted the coveted shutdown inning and kept the bullpen out of the game.

To the relievers’ credit, they have pitched well as the Rangers have pushed their lead in the American League West to 3 1/2 games. But, yes, the Rangers still need to acquire two relievers before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

If their starters can go deep in games, though, that will make life easier on the Rangers no matter who is in the bullpen.

Loss for words

Rangers players were glued to every pitch Chapman threw in the ninth inning and seemed to be in awe as much as those in attendance and those watching from home.

After a 102.8 mph heater froze Jose Siri for the second out, replays showed first baseman Nate Lowe shooting a glance to someone on his right and shaking his head in disbelief. The pitchers in the dugout were wowed when Chapman caught Harold Ramirez looking at a full-count slider at 91.1 mph after two straight fastballs at 102.1 mph and 102.8 mph.

It’s nothing new to fans of the teams Chapman has pitched for in his career, but Bochy said that Chapman is throwing as well as he has ever seen from the left-hander. Bochy saw plenty of Chapman while managing in the National League as Chapman pitched for the Reds and Cubs.

Bochy also called Chapman one of the best closers in the game, which would suggest that Chapman eventually will have full-time closing duties rather than sharing them with Smith.

Langford today

Wyatt Langford is on his way to being a professional baseball player.

The fourth overall pick from Florida will be introduced this afternoon at Globe Life Field after passing his physical exam, the final step before making his deal official.

Rangers Today reported Monday that the deal was close to being done.

The outfielder is rated by Baseball Prospectus as the No. 5 prospect in baseball. Baseball America has him at No. 11. Both publications have Langford rated higher than Double A Frisco outfielder Evan Carter, making him the team’s top prospect.

The Rangers will send Langford, along with all other draftees and non-drafted free agents, to the Arizona complex for some onboarding. He might make is professional debut in the Arizona Complex League to knock off any rust since his season ended in College World Series, but he will finish the season at a full-season affiliate.

Doggy video!

Can a dog get a brain freeze? Enjoy.

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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