Tuesday Newsletter time: The hits keep coming as Rangers open long trip with victory
(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
Part of the reason for signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in the offseason was to stretch the lineup.
The goal was that the top of the lineup would be in good hands with two of the best free agents signing on, and the two spots they would occupy would push middle-of-the-order bats last season deeper in the lineup.
It just so happens that Adolis Garcia has rebounded from his rough 2021 second half to force his way into the middle again. Nate Lowe is hitting well enough to move up in the order against right-handers, but he’s still in the lower half.
But the offseason goal is being realized. The lineup is deeper, and that depth showed up Monday night.
No. 8 hitter Leody Taveras’ two-run single jump-started a four-run second inning and No. 6 hitter Mitch Garver clobbered a two-run homer as the Rangers opened their nine-game, three-city road trip with a 10-4 win at Kansas City.
The Rangers banged out 15 hits, led by three from clean-up hitter and birthday boy Jonah Heim. Hitters 5 through 9 collected two hits apiece, drove in seven runs and scored six.
Leadoff hitter Semien was the only one to not collect a hit, but his sacrifice fly in the fourth gave the Rangers a 5-4 lead. Heim and No. 9 hitters Charlie Culberson were the only hitters who didn’t have an RBI.
The collective effort, which included going 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position following a nearly empty weekend in those situations, is one of the best offensive performances of the season.
“We were hard on them today a little bit,” said manager Chris Woodward, who also celebrated a birthday Monday. “They bounced back and answered back. I know hitting is hard. I just think the world of this group and will always challenge them.”
The Royals helped with an embarrassing defensive display. Their starter, Kris Bubic, walked three, including Lowe with the bases loaded in the second.
But the Rangers put the ball in play, putting pressure on the defense and thus Bubic with runners on base.
Good things happen when a team puts the ball in play, which the Rangers did, and the ball doesn’t always have to go over the fence. The Rangers had only two extra-base hits — Garver’s homer and an RBI double by Garcia.
Martin Perez was none too happy that he surrendered the three-run lead in the second inning that the Rangers had just handed him.
The Royals had four runs and six hits against him after two innings.
But Perez quickly figured things out and allowed only one hit over his final four innings, a steadying of the ship that allowed the offense to keep pounding away. Those are the types of things a veteran starting pitcher does.
He’s been doing veteran-type things all season.
“Martin does a good job and he keeps pitching,” Woodward said. “That’s what he does, and he takes a lot of pride in being that guy for us.”
Just last week Perez matched Kyle Gibson zero for zero until the Rangers’ offense scratched across three runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Perez exited after six, and the Rangers added on in the eighth for a 7-0 win.
Even his worst start of the season, in which he allowed seven runs in five innings, was a handy start. Rather than turn the game over to the bullpen early, Perez gutted out five innings in a game the Rangers rallied to win.
His ERA is still 2.22, and he’s now 6-2. He’s also at 93 1/3 innings, 21 fewer than he collected all of last season.
“I never lost my focus,” Perez said. “I threw four more good innings and we got the win. That was a good win for us.”
Something else a veteran knows how to do is take care of his arm and body. Don’t worry about any innings limits. Perez is going to keep taking the ball, and he’s going to keep giving the Rangers a chance to win every time he does.
Things didn’t improve much for Rangers on the American League All-Star ballot.
Only Seager improved in the balloting over the past week, moving from seventh to sixth at shortstop. Heim remains ninth at catcher, and Semien is still stuck at 10th.
Garcia is not among the top 20 outfielders, which seems egregious.
The first phase of voting runs through Thursday, at which point the top three at each position move into the finals (or Phase 2). Fans can vote up to five times a day at texasrangers.com/allstar.
The Rangers had three All-Star last year, but they were also selected by players — Garcia, Joey Gallo and Kyle Gibson. They also had three in 2019 — Gallo, Hunter Pence and Mike Minor.
Perez clearly is the Rangers’ best candidate and should be on the team. Garcia is building a case but needs to continue his hot June into early July. Left-handed reliever Brock Burke could be a darkhorse candidate as one of the league’s top setup relievers so far.
This was the Wilsons on Monday morning. The struggle was real, but we made it. Enjoy. See you Wednesday.
“Ok, let’s go now” 😂 pic.twitter.com/hExgBZgJEw
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 25, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org