Wednesday newsletter time: Marcus Semien finally has postseason breakthrough
(AP photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
PHOENIX — No Rangers player this postseason has been scrutinized more for his performance, or lack thereof, than second baseman Marcus Semien.
He’s been the Rangers’ leadoff hitter throughout, even though he entered Game 4 batting only .197. That was up from various times during the American League Championship Series..
Semien collected a big two-out hit in Game 3, and maybe that got him going.
Something did. He was the Rangers’ key hitter Tuesday in their 11-7 Game 4 victory.
Semien tripled in two runs during the Rangers’ five-run second inning and hit a three-run homer, his first of the postseason, in the five-run third. Both hits came with two outs, as did the first 10 Rangers runs.
“I want to contribute like that,” Semien said. “Baseball’s tough, though. You’re going to have stretches where you just don’t.”
Fortunately for his peace of mind, others have been, namely Adolis Garcia and Corey Seager. Their production has allowed Semien to continue to work and to attempt to not press in big situations.
The Rangers were up 1-0 in the second with two outs when Semien sent a flyball into the left-field corner to score Leody Taveras and Travis Jankowski. It was 7-0 in the third when his drive to left-center found the first row of seats for a 10-0 lead.
“He came up with two outs with a triple and then hits the home run to put us in a good spot,” said Seager, who followed Semien’s triple with a two-run homer. “Props to him for sure. It was fun to see.”
The Rangers have a chance to clinch their first World Series tonight in Game 5. Semien will be at the top of the lineup riding a wave of confidence, but don’t expect him to try to do too much.
“We’re a deep group,” he said, “If one is not getting it done, someone else is picking up the slack. I continue to work as hard as I possibly can to get back in the zone. For me, those two at-bats were huge.”
Garcia, Scherzer done
The Rangers didn’t want to do what they did Tuesday afternoon, removing Garcia and Max Scherzer from the World Series roster. Once a player is removed, he’s finished for the series.
General manager Chris Young said that their injuries, a left oblique strain for Garcia and back spasms for Scherzer, would put them on the injured list in the regular season. Young suggested that Garcia would be out an extended stretch had this injury occurred in the regular season.
“We’re just at a point in time where we don’t have the time to wait these things out,” general manager Chris Young said.
Garcia and Scherzer understood the decisions and didn’t lobby for more time. Garcia was in early for treatment and tried to swing the bat but was in too much pain. Scherzer was seen walking with strength coach Jose Vazquez and let out a long breath as he went back into the clubhouse.
But both were in the dugout during Game 4 and will be throughout the rest of the series. The goal now is to get ready for a potential celebration.
Ever wonder why Nathaniel Lowe makes short flips to Nathan Eovaldi at first base rather than taking the ball to the bag himself for the out?
It is pretty ridiculous how quickly Eovaldi gets to first base on balls to the right side of the infield. He told Lowe to give him the ball as long as he’s making the effort, and he incentivized the act.
Lowe is getting paid.
“A hundred dollars,” Lowe said. “So those games, where Evo gets three or four groundouts, it’s pretty good for me.”
Eovaldi confirmed the payments, though he seemed embarrassed to do so. His biggest contribution on defense has been putting an emphasis on pitchers doing the little things like getting their butts over to first base. Pitching coach Mike Maddux gave him the green light to speak up.
Lowe said that was missing the past few seasons.
“We brought in a lot of guys who care about converting that out,” he said. “It felt like there had been a couple times before where I’ve been embarrassed on a ball that kind of skipped away from me and I have a chance to flip it to first and nobody’s there.”
Maybe Lowe should have been paying pitchers.
A live look at the Rangers’ training room. Enjoy.
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Jeff Wilson, email@example.com