Wednesday Newsletter time: Rangers’ eighth inning a lesson in not trying to do too much
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — The bases were loaded in the bottom of the seventh with one out, and the Texas Rangers had the top of their order coming up.
Eli White struck out on three pitches, and Marcus Semien did as well.
All those fans who had been saving up their boos for the right moment let Semien have it.
Alas, there were two more innings to play, and anything can happen in a baseball game.
Something happened, all right.
The Rangers scored seven times in the eighth, an inning that started with a Corey Seager bloop double and an Adolis Garcia infield single in which he flattened Angels first baseman Matt Duffy, and the Rangers won their third straight game, 10-5, in just under four hours.
“I think our guys are starting to really hone in on some things to have quality at-bat in big spots,” manager Chris Woodward said. “A lot of guys came through.”
Nothing life-changing took place in the win, though it was the Rangers’ first of the season when trailing after seven innings. They are now 1-15 in those games.
But the Rangers pieced together their rally in a variety of ways, all of them good, and they were reminded what can happen when everyone is on the same page and doing what the game asks them to do.
“It’s really cool to see everything click in that one inning,” said right fielder Kole Calhoun, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth. “It won us a ballgame, and that’s what this team can do.”
No one had to hit a big home run in the eighth. Garcia was simply trying to move Seager to third by — gasp! — hitting the ball the other way. Jonah Heim followed with a walk that Woodward said was the key to the inning, and Calhoun followed with another walk to load the bases for Nate Lowe.
Lowe delivered the tie-breaking hit, and White atoned for his miss in the seventh with an RBI single that turned into a mad dash around the bases for a little-league home run.
“It’s a long run,” said White, who struck out in his first four at-bats.
Sam Huff was also a part of the act, delivering a two-run single in his third hit of the game.
“That’s what we’re capable of if we go out there and just do what we can do and not try to be bigger than the situation,” Calhoun said.
Woodward emerged from the dugout in the fifth to get left-hander Taylor Hearn after a leadoff walk to Mike Trout.
Shohei Ohtani, a left-handed hitter, was up next and Hearn was at 78 pitches.
If four-plus innings seems like an early hook, here are a few things to consider:
Ohtani blistered a ball off Hearn in the third inning at 109.1 mph, and White managed to not lose his glove upon catching it in left field. A third Ohtani-Hearn matchup seemed like trouble.
Up after Ohtani was Anthony Rendon, who clubbed a two-run homer off Hearn in the Angels’ three-run third.
The Rangers had just tied the game on Calhoun’s homer, so Woodward wanted to keep momentum with the Rangers.
Hearn threw 64 pitches in his last start and told Woodward and the pitching coaches that he was fatiguing. A 14-pitch jump is about what could have been expected Tuesday.
The decision worked as Matt Moore retired Ohtani, Rendon and Matt Duffy in order. If Dane Dunning pitches into the six or seventh Wednesday, the Rangers should have a fresh bullpen going into their 10-game road trip.
Mitch Garver went 0 for 2 with two walks Tuesday at Double A Frisco in his first game on rehab assignment, and he will play for Triple A Round Rock on Wednesday at Sugar Land.
The Rangers play at Houston on Thursday, about 25 minutes from the Sugar Land ballpark.
Isn’t that convenient?
What’s not convenient is that Garver can only DH. His strained forearm flexor muscle still isn’t allowing him to throw, and the Rangers aren’t in a rush to test it. That means they will have to keep Huff on the roster and will probably option a reliever to Round Rock to open up a roster spot.
Though they are permitted to carry 14 pitchers until May 29, the Rangers would have 13 the rest of the month.
Woodward is hopeful that Huff can get enough reps playing only a few times away to not slow his development, but being around the big-league coaching staff and pitchers is something he can’t get at Round Rock.
Huff, who is batting .444 this season and has a hit in all five games he’s played, seems to be doing fine so far.
This one is out of patience. Enjoy. See you Thursday.
Enough computer, hooman… is walkie time! pic.twitter.com/QKnDv1kCtU
— Madeyousmile (@Thund3rB0lt) May 9, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org