Wednesday newsletter time: Apply. Rinse. Repeat. Rangers lose again in 10
(AP photo/Julio Cortez)
Nate Lowe and Corey Seager both could have been the hero Tuesday night.
Lowe connected for a game-tying three-run homer in the eighth, and Seager connected for a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth.
The Rangers managed to erase deficits of four and three runs during, and for the second straight game had a chance to win a ballgame with their closer on the mound.
But Joe Barlow couldn’t close out the Orioles for a second straight game, allowing a game-tying homer to Rougned Odor with two outs in the ninth, and the Rangers failed to score in the 10th for a second straight game and suffered the consequences of a walk-off loss.
Cedric Mullins was the hero for Baltimore with a two-out single off Matt Moore, who also took the extra-innings loss Monday.
The Rangers have lost three straight games, two to the below-.500 Orioles, and will try to avoid a three-game sweep tonight.
The loss dropped the Rangers to 4-16 in one-run games. That speaks to the razor thin margin for error the Rangers have, and that they make too many mistakes — be it an error, a bad pitch or a bad at-bat — to get their heads above water.
“There are a lot of little things that we can do better, and we just keep addressing it,” manager Chris Woodward said. “They’re really frustrated in that locker room.”
They’re pretty frustrated in living rooms around the Metroplex, and Odor’s homer in the ninth was like rubbing salt in the wound.
The Rangers trailed 4-0 after four but scored three in the fifth and tied the game in the seventh on a Mitch Garver home run. Dennis Santana immediately gave up three runs to put the Rangers in a 7-4 hole entering the eighth.
Lowe delivered a mammoth homer in the eighth, but the Orioles opened the bottom half with a Ryan McKenna homer.
Seager’s 16th homer, which followed Marcus Semien legging out an infield hit, gave the Rangers their first lead of the game at 9-8, but Odor spoiled it on a hanging breaking ball from Barlow.
The Rangers couldn’t get their free runner home in the 10th, as Jonah Heim popped out to start the inning. The Rangers loaded the bases with one out, but Steven Duggar struck out and Josh Smith popped out.
“In the 10th inning, we’ve got to find a way to scratch a run across,” Woodward said. “It changes the entire game.”
It sure does.
Howard … not awful
Compared to the last time the Rangers saw Spencer Howard pitch, he was much better in his first big-league appearance since April.
He could have been better, of course. He allowed four two-out runs in the second inning and was finished after four innings.
“I don’t think it was his best outing, but he kept competing,” Woodward said. “Overall, it was decent.”
Howard did not allow a home run, which feels like a minor victory.
His pitching early on gave the impression that he was nervous or anxious. His fastball command was spotty, and it looked like he was yanking pitches glove side.
A paid subscriber, Mike Wang, suggested that the tempo of the game might have affected Howard, who at Triple A Round Rock had to pitch with a pitch clock. The pace of the game is much quicker, and Howard looked sluggish as he worked against the Orioles.
There was some good, though, like his fastball velocity. The Rangers got him off the hook with their late rally.
With no better options available, Howard might be looking at another start next week. He didn’t necessarily earn it, but he didn’t perform so badly that the Rangers need to punt him.
Not adding up
The lousy thing about not being on the road with the Rangers is the inability to ask the manager some questions that needed to be answered.
There are two things that stand out about the game that didn’t make a ton of sense.
Why did the lefty-hitting Brad Miller face two left-handed pitchers, with one of the at-bats with a runner at first and two outs in the eighth inning?
Why did John King pitch the eighth inning after the Rangers had pulled even at 7-7 in the top half?
The answer, for me, is somewhere in the Rangers not making the roster move to activate Howard until shortly before game time. They sent down reliever Josh Sborz in what was seemingly an obvious move.
Or was it?
Is there a reliever working through an injury? Did the Rangers attempt to option right-hander Jose Leclerc, but he refused as is his right as a player with five years’ service time? If they don’t trust Leclerc to pitch the eighth inning in a tie game, shouldn’t they have kept the right-handed Sborz and optioned King?
Woodward said that the Rangers were trying rest a few relievers, presumably left-handers Brock Burke and Brett Martin. With Leclerc not an option, that left King, who has pitched only three times since June 14.
As for Miller, Woodward let him hit in the eighth instead of using the switch-hitting Leody Taveras. Woodward had Taveras pinch run for Garver, and then inserted Duggar as a defensive replacement for Miller in left field after the inning.
The Rangers could have used Duggar for Garver, let Taveras hit for Miller and then kept Taveras in the game for defense.
If Taveras is supposed to be an everyday player, the Rangers need to let him hit right-handed.
Taveras singled as a left-handed hitter in the 10th, and Kole Calhoun was wisely held at third.
Duggar didn’t make contact. Smith didn’t make good enough contact.
1. A big thumbs-up for businesses with dogs. 2. Two thumbs-up for smart dogs. Enjoy. See you Thursday.
— Dog lovers (@10_Ilovedogs) June 30, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org