Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers go deep, deep, deep to cut magic number to 4
(AP photo/Ryan S. Sun)
The Rangers weren’t lost at the plate over the first five innings Monday night, but they weren’t having much luck.
Hard-hit balls were going directly to Angels defenders or not quite carrying through the marine layer as they do at the cloud-free Globe Life Field.
Down 1-0, the club needed a spark.
How about back-to-back-to-back homers?
Adolis Garcia, Mitch Garver and Nate Lowe hit consecutive one-out home runs, and Marcus Semien added another solo shot in the seventh as the Rangers opened their season-ending road trip with their sixth consecutive victory, 5-1.
The win kept the Rangers in first place in the American League West by 2 1/2 games and reduced their magic number for clinching the division title to four. The Astros beat the Mariners to remain in second place and increase their lead for the final wild-card spot to 1 1/2 games.
The Rangers hadn’t hit three straight homers since 2015. With their four-homer game, they now lead the league with 227.
Jon Gray was the beneficiary of the power surge, earning the win by allowing one run in six strong innings. However, he left the game while warming up for the seventh because of wrist tightness, a peculiar malady, and his status for the rest of the season is uncertain.
“We don’t think it’s anything serious,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Rangers turned to Jonathan Hernandez, which had been a wrong turn many times this season, but he managed a scoreless inning despite loading the bases. After the Rangers added an insurance run on a wild pitch, Hernandez returned to get the first two outs of the eighth.
Andrew Heaney, the former Angels pitcher, recorded the final four outs. Because he pitched and Martin Perez pitched Sunday, rookie left-hander Cody Bradford will start tonight in Max Scherzer’s rotation spot.
But thanks to Heaney and Hernandez, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc received a day off and should be ready to go tonight.
The Rangers have six games to go. Whatever it takes.
For all the Angels don’t have, they do have a bunch of left-handed starting pitchers. Evan Carter hasn’t seen many of those so far in his MLB career, but Robbie Grossman has and he’s been really good against them.
With wins at a premium, Bochy played the matchups. Grossman and his .964 OPS against lefties were in the lineup for the first time since last Tuesday, and Bochy said Grossman will be in there tonight against lefty Reid Detmers.
But, just as has been the case in Grossman starts, Grossman was replaced late in the game for better defense. Carter did the honors as soon as the Rangers took the lead.
Carter was out of the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 12 at Toronto, which started lefty Hyun Jin Rui. He also didn’t start Sept. 9, his second day in the majors, vs. Oakland lefty Sean Newcomb. However, Carter entered both of those games as a late-game defensive substitution.
It might not be popular, but it worked.
Triple A Round Rock secured a spot in the Pacific Coast League playoffs Sunday with a win at Tacoma and a Reno loss. The Express will begin a best-of-3 series tonight at Oklahoma City, the veteran-filled Dodgers affiliate.
Round Rock is the third Rangers full-season affiliate to make the postseason, following Low A Down East and High A Hickory. Down East reached the finals of the Carolina League playoffs but lost to Charleston, the Tampa Bay affiliate featuring first-round draft pick Brayden Taylor of TCU.
Offense has guided Round Rock all season, and almost all of it has been from right-handed hitters. Davis Wendzel finished with 30 home runs, Elier Hernandez collected a single-season record 165 hits and Sam Huff hit 17 despite spending several weeks with the Rangers.
Justin Foscue, Blaine Crim and Sandro Fabian also provided some thump from the right side. First-round pick Wyatt Langford is there, too.
An encouraging sign in the final week was a strong outing by right-hander Cole Winn, who allowed two hits in five scoreless innings. Jack Leiter made his Triple A debut Saturday, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Just missed it. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) September 25, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com