Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers’ bullpen woes resurface in Pittsburgh
(AP photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The Rangers’ season has fallen into a pattern.
Play a few really good games and win, then watch the bullpen falter and lose a game.
It was time for the latter Monday as the Rangers again received good starting pitching but saw the bullpen turn a close game into a 6-4 loss at Pittsburgh.
The Pirates scored five times in the seventh against right-handers Josh Sborz and Joe Barlow, all with two outs, to blow open a 1-1 game. Four of the runs came on a grand slam by Tucupita Marcano off of Barlow.
Dane Dunning allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings, and Sborz easily record the final out of the sixth. He got two quick outs in the seventh before the bottom dropped out.
His sudden demise, though, is part of a bigger problem. Sborz, his track record shows, hasn’t had much experience in high-leverage situations, but he’s been an option of late because Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez have pitched their way out of critical roles.
The Rangers don’t have proven replacements. While manager Bruce Bochy is considered a master manipulator of bullpens, he’s still searching for the remedy. One option won’t be right-hander Jacob Barnes, who was released from this Triple A contract.
The best option is Leclerc and Hernandez getting better. Leclerc has been better, and the Rangers might have to bite the bullet and throw him in there.
But if the recent pattern holds, the Rangers are due for a couple wins before they have to test their nerves again in the late innings.
Josh Jung connected for an impressive two-run home run in the ninth inning off of Pirates closer David Bednar. The two-run blast was Jung’s 10th homer of the season, and gave him a rather dubious distinction.
He has the most home runs by a Rangers third baseman since 2018, when Adrian Beltre connected for 15 in his final season.
Third base has been an offensive pit since Beltre retired. He missed chunks of time that season, but Juickson Profar filled in capably and with some pop.
But none of the replacements since then had hit more than nine homers in one season?
Asdrubal Cabrera? Nope. Isiah Kiner-Falefa? Nope. Brock Holt? C’mon. Andy Ibanez? Nope.
What a group.
Jung would appear to be on his way to at least 20 home runs … for multiple seasons. Third base is no longer an offensive pit for the Rangers.
Sunday was a long day for the Wilsons. It started with an 8 a.m. 10U tournament game, and went so well that the TBT Ballers were the No. 2 seed in the one-day tournament.
Get this: There was a 10-hour break between games. The Ballers won in the semifinals but lost the championship game 3-2. School-night bedtime was 12:15 a.m.
Everyone made it where they needed to be Monday morning on time. My battery was running well, but the car’s battery had had enough. A work-from-home day turned into a work from NTB afternoon.
Man, I wish I’d been in Pittsburgh.
The good news, though, is that the day ended with the Denver Nuggets sweeping the Lakers and going to the NBA Finals for the first time. Having grown up in Denver in the Dan Issel/Alex English/Kiki Vandeweghe/Doug Moe era, the Game 4 win was a very happy outcome.
But I hope the next 24 hours aren’t quite as adventurous.
Cat had it coming. Enjoy.
Don't start something that you can't finish. pic.twitter.com/aWz088QkSM
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) May 19, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com