Wednesday newsletter time: Rangers snakebit in Arizona as skid reaches six
(AP photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Jon Gray, one of baseball best at limiting pitches per inning, threw 39 in the second inning Tuesday night.
The Diamondbacks scored three times, one on an error he made. They collected four singles, with exit velocities of 62.3 mph, 70.8 mph, 75.9 mph and 71.4 mph. They also took two walks, including one on which catcher Jonah Heim showed some disgust at plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.
The Rangers’ third inning saw them put three balls in play, the softest at 93.1 mph and another at 110.5, and take a four-pitch walk. They got nothing, and the ball at 110.5 was turned into a double play.
Marcus Semien hit a ball in the fifth that would have been a home run in 15 of the 30 MLB ballparks, but not Chase Field. He hit a ball in the ninth that only a handful of center fielders can catch, but Alex Thomas is one of them.
Not only are the Rangers not hitting, not scoring and blowing saves, they’re having some lousy luck.
The Rangers lost their sixth straight game, 6-3, and their lead in the American League West is down to a half-game. They will still be in first place the next time they play Thursday, but they might be tied for the first time in 109 games.
They headed to Minnesota on Tuesday night and will be off today before opening a four-game series against the AL Central-leading Twins.
Andrew Heaney is scheduled to start the opener, which might make some fans gulp. It might make some Rangers personnel gulp, but at least the bullpen will be fully rested.
Maybe the off day will do all of them some good. It needs to.
Nathan Eovaldi isn’t ready to come off the injured list yet, but his next step might be an indication that he will not go on a rehab assignment.
The Rangers will have the All-Star right-hander throw a bullpen session Thursday after the threw live batting practice Monday. He does not want to go on a rehab assignment, and manager Bruce Bochy has been saying for a couple weeks that Eovaldi might complete his build-up in major-league games.
If the bullpen is being treated like a between-starts session, Eovaldi could pitch as soon as Sunday. If he does go on a rehab assignment and can pitch Sunday, he would be ready to jump into the Rangers’ rotation when they return home from this nine-game road trip.
Meanwhile, Josh Jung is no longer wearing a cast on his broken left thumb, but the rookie third baseman is still a month away from playing.
Will Smith threw Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers, so Aroldis Chapman pitching Monday night in the ninth inning looked innocent enough. He blew the save, but was in a position to pick up the win after a scoreless 10th. The problem is that Smith also blew save, allowing three runs in a walk-off loss.
A deeper look at Smith’s work shows that he’s in a massive funk, having allowed 11 runs (nine earned) in his past 5 1/3 innings and blowing two saves.
The closer’s role might now belong to Chapman.
But if the Rangers have lost faith in Smith, why wouldn’t they have been warming right-hander Josh Sborz in case Smith got in trouble? Maybe they don’t have much faith in Sborz right now after he struggled on the last homestand.
Chris Stratton, who came from St. Louis with Jordan Montgomery, doesn’t have the kind of overpowering stuff teams like to have late in games, but the Rangers might not have a choice to test him out.
We’ve all been there. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) August 23, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org