Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers shake off lack of sleep, rally to walk-off over A’s
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — The Rangers’ charter from Miami landed in Dallas at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, and some players and coaches didn’t make it home until after 3.
Mark Mathias had a newborn waiting for him at home, and he was awake.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Mathias said.
What he got, though, proved to be just enough for the Rangers.
Mathias connected for two home runs, the second of which gave the Rangers an 8-7 walk-off victory over Oakland. Mathis also doubled in a run as the Rangers collected a season-high 10 extra-base hits, including three doubles by second baseman Marcus Semien.
“Adrenaline is a real thing,” Mathias said.
After the late arrival and the doubleheader split against the Marlins, interim manager Tony Beasley made an executive decision. No early work, no batting practice and no players at Globe Life Field until 4 p.m.
Most adhered to the edict. Corey Seager received a day off, and Nate Lowe was given a game at designated hitter to open a two-game series against the A’s.
Beasley wanted as much energy as the players could muster.
“The focus has to be the game,” he said.
The game? Well …
Cole Ragans allowed seven runs in four-plus innings despite not traveling to Miami. The Rangers were down 7-2 before Mathias doubled home Semien in the fifth and Adolis Garcia followed two batters later with a two-run homer.
Mathias’ two-run shot in the seventh tied the game, and he said he started thinking in the eighth inning that he might have a chance to end the game.
“I was just trying to be in the moment,” he said. “I’d never hit a home run to walk-off.”
He has now, and now he can sleep.
Semien did not get an off day.
Didn’t want one.
But in the fifth inning, fatigue momentarily caught up with him.
He had just come off the field and was due up first. He said he grabbed a drink, sat down and was as relaxed as he’d been all day.
Then, umpire Chad Fairchild motioned to Beasley that the Rangers needed a batter. Semien almost missed his at-bat.
“I just lost track,” he said. “I saw nothing was happening, and they told me I was up. I just laughed. … It’s really embarrassing.”
He didn’t have all his normal protective gear on when he legged out a double ahead of Mathias’ RBI double.
Semien, though, is prepared to play 99.99 percent of the time.
If there’s a game to play, he sees it as his turn to be in the lineup. Barring a day off at some point the final three weeks, Semien will finish with 161 of 162 games played.
“He takes pride in playing every day,” Beasley said. “He does not want to talk about taking a day off, period. He told me if he gets a day off it’s because he’s benched.”
Semien came up with the White Sox and played behind Alexei Ramirez. He never reached 162 games, but he had six straight seasons with at least 154 played, and the fewest he every played was 136 as a rookie. Semien modeled himself after Ramirez.
“When it’s my turn to play, I’m going to play,” Semien said.
Semien played second base for the first time this season when Seager was out of the lineup. Semien said staying at second base is something that was discussed in July with former manager Chris Woodward. Semien said that bouncing around doesn’t allow him to be at his best at second or shortstop.
Josh Smith played shortstop, his natural position, and showed some excellent range. But unless Seager has another day off the rest of the way, Smith will have to get his at-bats in left field.
Mouth off to the manager on the mound one night, get sent to the minors the next day.
Such was the fate of Giants reliever Zack Littell, who voiced his displeasure with Gabe Kapler on Monday night as he walked to the dugout after being replaced. Kapler went back to the dugout and summoned Littell into the tunnel, where he presumably read the riot act.
And, just for good measure, Littell is now pitching for Triple A Sacramento.
Zack Littell had some words for Gabe Kapler as he was leaving the mound and the two went down the tunnel to talk about it 👀 pic.twitter.com/SaaBjLP7zt
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) September 13, 2022
Littell isn’t some rookie. He still has minor-league options, but he’s been around. He was really good last season but has a 5.08 ERA in 2022. He has allowed eight home runs in 44 1/3 innings and allowed two runs before Kapler came to get him in an eventual 3-2 victory.
The most memorable exchange like that with the Rangers during my time on the beat came in 2008, when Ron Washington removed C.J. Wilson from a game and Wilson flipped the ball as he exited. Washington caught the ball, then stopped Wilson and made him hand off the ball before leaving.
Chewing the carpet isn’t so bad now, is it? Enjoy. See you Thursday.
So it's a new carpet huh? 😂😏🐶🔊 pic.twitter.com/ASLnOxpJLr
— Laughs 4 All 🤟 (@Laughs_4_All) September 13, 2022
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com