Wednesday Newsletter time: Holy bullpen! Relievers carry Rangers in third straight victory
(AP photo/Matt Rourke)
For a team to get on a roll, all phases have to be clicking.
The Texas Rangers are rolling, now winners of three straight for the first time this season, and they can point to the rotation, the offense and the bullpen for the success.
On Monday, the bullpen was the key factor in a 6-4 victory at Philadelphia to open a five-game road trip. Five relievers combined to allow only one run in six innings after the Rangers kept starter Jon Gray on a short leash in his first start off the injured list.
Brock Burke picked up his third win of the season with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and fellow left-hander John King managed to escape a scoreless seventh inning after the Phillies put runners at second and third with no outs.
He carved up Kyle Schwarber, Alec Bohm and reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper to get out of the jam.
“He just went to town and executed pitches against some good hitters, their three best guys,” manager Chris Woodward said on Bally Sports Southwest.
Mitch Garver and Jonah Heim homered, and the Rangers scored three unearned runs in the sixth thanks to Bohm’s lousy defense at third base. But the Rangers needed their third pinch-hitter of the inning, Zach Reks, to deliver with two outs.
He roped a double into right field to plate two runs, and Marcus Semien beat out an infield hit to third to get Reks home.
This win comes on top of Saturday’s 3-1 W in which Dane Dunning tossed 7 2/3 innings and Sunday’s 7-3 victory in which the offense struck early in support of Taylor Hearn, who allowed two runs in five innings.
The Rangers have a long way to go, but they are playing better.
“There was never any panic,” Woodward said. “These guys believe.”
Woodward said that he would be playing Garver this season on days he doesn’t catch, trying to keep one of the most productive bats in the lineup as the designated hitter.
Maybe Woodward should be playing Heim on days he doesn’t catch.
Heim’s home run, his third of the season and first since the birth of his daughter last week, added to his hot start. He has had only 33 at-bats, but he’s batting .364. He has walked seven times and struck out only three times, which has fueled a .475 on-base percentage.
Woodward had been using Willie Calhoun at DH against right-handed pitchers and Brad Miller in left field. It’s conceivable Woodward could play Reks in left and Miller at DH against righties, but Miller in left and Heim at DH might be worth a try.
Gray didn’t last long, throwing 60 pitches in three innings. Twenty-nine of those came in the first inning, when he allowed three two-out runs.
But he doesn’t need to go on the injured list for a third time, and that is like a victory.
“It definitely feels weird pitching every 12 to 15 days,” Gray said. “I gave up three in the first, so that’s not too hot, but I felt like I had some good pitches that were getting me out of jams.”
Gray could start Sunday at Yankee Stadium on normal rest. He and the Rangers need that to happen so that the Opening Day starter can continue to build up his pitch count.
He would be a fourth starter who can pitch deep into games.
“Things are rolling again, so I’ve got some things I can build on,” Gray said. “Pitching five days after a start is going to be a big help, and I can just get in a rhythm.
Me, when they come by with the chips and salsa. Enjoy. See you Thursday.
Excited when they see food! 🐾 pic.twitter.com/2Ot3tpwdku
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Jeff Wilson, email@example.com