Tuesday newsletter time: Rangers see one slip away against Shohei Ohtani, Angels
(AP photo/Sam Hodde)
ARLINGTON — For all that was made of the weekend series at Tampa Bay, the Rangers were coming home to an important series in the division.
The Angels, while still their inconsistent selves, are in third place and closing on the second-place Astros.
They got a little closer Monday night.
Shohei Ohtani hit two home runs, the game-tying shot in the seventh and the go-ahead two-run shot to start the 12, and the Angels rallied past the Rangers 9-6.
“It’s a tough loss,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “These are tough ones, but these are games you have to bounce back from.”
Cole Ragans surrendered the homer after the Rangers missed chances to win in the 10th and 11th. Ragans allowed a second two-run homer two Chad Wallach later in the 12th.
With the loss, the Rangers are officially in a funk. They have lost 4 of 5, but still hold a 4-1/2 game lead over the Astros and a 5 1/2-game lead over the Angels. The rotation has wobbled some, and the offense has missed several chances after seemingly coming through much of the past six weeks.
Dane Dunning labored for the first time this season, walking five and allowing four runs in five innings. The Angels scored three times in the fifth to climb within 5-4, a lead the Rangers held until Ohtani launched a Grant Anderson pitch to tie the score.
The Rangers had the winning run at third base with one out in the ninth, but Josh Jung struck out and Jonah Heim flied out to left. The same situation unfolded in the 10th, but Josh Smith was thrown out at home on a Leody Taveras one-hop smash and the next batter, Marcus Semien, was out at first on a close play.
Jung hit the ball hard in the 11th with the winning run in scoring position, 105.6 mph, but his line drive went right to Angels shortstop Zach Neto to end the inning.
“The only thing you can do when you have runners in scoring position is hit the ball hard, and we did that,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t get one to fall in for us.”
Semien went 0 for 7. Nate Lowe went 0 for 6. It was a tough night in a lot of ways, but the Rangers still could have/should have won the game.
Putting a finger on it
Jon Gray had given no indication that something was bothering him on the mound. He threw 100 pitches Wednesday in his second career complete game, a 1-0 loss.
But Bochy said that the Rangers are pushing Gray back a few days as he nurses a blister, or the beginnings of one. The Rangers had Cody Bradford on hand from Triple A Round Rock to make a spot start or pitch multiple relief innings.
Bradford started Friday, throwing a season-high eight innings, and would be on short rest.
The bullpen usage Monday would dictate how the Rangers would proceed. They used four relievers, including Ragans. He was the one guy who could give multiple innings.
Bochy said after the game that the Rangers hadn’t decided who would start.
Not only are Toronto fans notorious for their poutine, they are also notorious for stuffing All-Star ballot boxes with votes for their Blue Jays.
It’s an admirable trait, truth be told, but this year it could potentially keep some deserving Rangers from landing in the American League starting lineup.
Semien was the runaway leader at second base in the first first batch of Phase 1 voting results, but Jung was a close second to Toronto’s Matt Chapman at third base. Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette held a wide lead over Corey Seager in second place.
At designated hitter, Robbie Grossman was third behind Ohtani and Toronto’s Brandon Belt.
In the outfield, Adolis Garcia was sixth with Toronto’s George Springer closing in.
The top six outfielders and the top two at the other positions advance to the final round of voting. Heim is second at catcher to the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman.
For the Rangers to pick up more starting nods, fans need to A) get/keep Rangers players in the top two and B) remember to vote and vote often for the final round. The Rangers are asking fans to hit their daily limit of five ballots, which can be accessed here. Phase 1 balloting ends at 11 a.m. June 22.
I’ve been that thirsty. Enjoy.
Time to have a water snack pic.twitter.com/RRPstgqu5R
— Madeyousmile (@Thund3rB0lt) June 8, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com