Wednesday newsletter time: Ezequiel Duran has played his way into everyday at-bats
(AP photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Corey Seager is moving toward reinstatement from the 10-day injured list, and shortstop will belong to him again once his left hamstring is deemed healthy enough to return.
Until then, the position appears to belong to Ezequiel Duran.
He made his fourth straight start at shortstop and extended his hitting streak to five games with a near-homer off Arizona ace Zac Gallen. He then gave the Rangers the lead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer off reliever Scott McGough.
The Rangers added a run in the seventh on a wild pitch en route to a 6-4 victory, their fourth straight.
Duran finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3 for 4, and scored twice and drove in two. He is batting .432 during a 13-game on-base streak that has lifted his average from .150 to .328.
“It’s just consistent hard contact,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Now that he’s getting three or four at-bats [a day], we’re starting to see what we saw in spring training.”
Something is going to have to give when Seager returns, but Duran is safe. He has earned everyday at-bats, and they would be available in left field. Bubba Thompson, who is batting .211, or Josh Smith, who is in a 6-for-45 slump and has only five at-bats on the homestand, could be sent to Triple A Round Rock to create the roster spot for Seager.
Duran’s ability to play shortstop will help his cause.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Bochy said. “These things tend to work themselves out.”
No one is a harsher critic of right-hander Jon Gray than right-hander Jon Gray, and he took gave a harsh assessment of his outing against Arizona.
“I can’t wait for things to be fun again,” he said.
He allowed two runs in the first inning and a run apiece in the second and third as the Rangers fell into a 4-1 hole. Two of the runs came on solo homers.
Gray was inconsistent with his command, leaving many pitches over the heart of the plate as the Diamondbacks collected eight hits in his 5 1/3 innings. But he found something in the second half of his outing, keeping the Rangers within striking distance when it looked as if he might be done early.
Gray retired eight of the final 10 batters he faced. Despite his command issues, he walked only one. He struck out only two, but the Rangers won.
“Jonny hung in there,” Bochy said. “He gave us a chance to come back.”
But did Gray find something to build upon?
“It’s searching for a feeling,” he said. “Sometimes I can talk my way through it, but it’s not a reaction. I’ve got to be better early on.”
Votes were taken Monday, at least by Rangers writers, for the American League monthly honors — top player, pitcher, reliever and rookie.
The Rangers should have a player going to the pay window.
Josh Jung led all qualifying AL rookies in RBIs (21), runs (18) and slugging percentage (.500), and tied for first in homers (6), doubles (5) and hits (27).
Anyone else winning it would be robbery, but there were some performances that might do the trick.
Masataka Yoshida with Boston will probably get some consideration, and Astros right-handed starter Hunter Brown and Orioles right-handed reliever Yennier Cano did well on the mound.
They just didn’t do better than Jung.
This took years of planning. Finally, it was time. Enjoy.
Dog scored the real goal..😅 pic.twitter.com/5nViYzga55
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) May 1, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org