Tuesday newsletter time: Late-spring Rangers resurface, so does playoff spot
(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
The first Rangers run Monday at Rogers Centre came on a balk after a disengagement violation. The second was delivered by the No. 9 hitter’s first career homer.
The usual suspects did their jobs as well, including an All-Star catcher who until last week was unable to bat right-handed.
The runs came from up and down the lineup, and the 10-4 victory resembled what the Rangers were doing in May and June as they put themselves in position for their first winning season and first postseason berth since 2016.
The win and a fourth straight Mariners loss put the Rangers back in the third wild-card spot by a half-game. The Rangers moved to second in the American League West, and their deficit is two games after the Astros lost to the A’s.
Jonah Heim connected for a grand slam in a five-run seventh, Evan Carter launched his first MLB homer and Dane Dunning pitched into the seventh inning to become the first Rangers starter to earn a W in 23 games. What a stat.
“It’s a great start to a road trip against a really good team,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Just good at-bats throughout the order. A lot of good things by the guys offensively.”
Heim wasn’t expected to bat right-handed the rest of the season after spraining a ligament in his left wrist, but he started taking swings two weeks ago and twice took live batting practice last week against left-handers from the minor leagues before getting cleared.
With Josh Jung (thumb) out, the Rangers were down two right-handed bats. They still are, with Adolis Garcia (knee) now out, so it’s imperative that Heim hits.
“Just trying to be confident with whatever I’m doing,” said Heim, who had an RBI double in the sixth. “We’ve just got to keep the line moving.”
Another similarity to May and June? The large margin of victory gave the relievers at the back of the bullpen a night off. The more rest guys like Will Smith and Aroldis Chapman have, the better they pitch.
The Rangers can gain more ground in the wild-card standings tonight with a fourth straight win. If they throw back the clock again to May or June, they just might do it.
Max Scherzer gets the start tonight for the Rangers after allowing six runs in three innings Wednesday against the Astros on four days’ rest, which he speculated wasn’t quite enough time to rest his tight forearm.
He also speculated that the short start and the Thursday off day should make him more effective against the Blue Jays.
Time will tell.
Scherzer said before the Astros start that he hasn’t had to manage a forearm issue often his career. He’s more of a shoulder and back kind of guy. Join the club.
One of Scherzer’s strengths, pitching coach Mike Maddux said, is how well he understands his body. He also competes like few others of this generation.
As Heim said, every game the rest of the season is a big one. Scherzer knows that, too.
Carter notched his first career hit Friday night in his first career at-bat. He launched his first career homer in his first career road at-bat.
He connected against right-hander Chris Bassitt on a drive that carried 406 feet and tied the game at 2-all in the third. Carter also had a single in the fifth and threw out Kevin Kiermaier at home in the fifth for his second career outfield assist.
“It was an unbelievable feeling,” he said of the home run. “Everybody dreams about that moment. ”
The top prospect is starting to get more comfortable the more he plays. The first home run and the first assist are confident boosts and “a little confirmation of, ‘Yeah, you can hold your own here.’
“I think I’ve calmed down since the first game for me. When it gets down to it, it’s still baseball.”
The getaway driver had enough. Enjoy.
Partners in crime.. 😂 pic.twitter.com/lJmAzZ1bek
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) September 10, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org