Wednesday Newsletter time: Kole Calhoun plays Superman on critical catch in Rangers’ victory
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — For the good that happened Tuesday night for the Texas Rangers, they needed more of it in the ninth inning.
Two seventh-inning errors on third baseman Charlie Culberson opened the door for three Kansas City runs, and a five-run lead was down two when Joe Barlow entered for the save opportunity.
Michael Taylor flied to right fielder Kole Calhoun for an easy first out. Whit Merrifield followed with a flyball to right field, too.
Nothing would be easy about catching it, but Calhoun laid out and grabbed it for a critical out as the Rangers hung on for a 6-4 victory.
Are you kidding me, Kole! pic.twitter.com/FEJJom1MFF
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) May 11, 2022
Calhoun hasn’t done as much as he would have liked to start his first season with the Rangers after signing a one-year, $5.2 million deal with a club option, but he contributed in a big way Tuesday. He also had a two-run single in the first inning.
“All he cares about is helping the team win,” manager Chris Woodward said. “That’s a big play.”
If the ball gets past Calhoun, Merrifield might end up with a triple. Either way, he would have been in scoring position with one out.
Instead, there were two outs and Barlow took care of Nicky Lopez to end the game with the top of the Royals’ lineup lurking.
Martin Perez continued to pitch well, allowing only one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings. He was charged with the three unearned runs in the seventh, but he struck out six and didn’t walk anyone.
The Rangers are 3-1 in his past four starts, but he picked up just his first win.
“I’m trying to attack everybody,” Perez said. “From last year to this year I’m not giving hitters too much credit.”
Seager swinging it
Corey Seager enjoys talking about his team and how it’s playing, and on Tuesday night he really enjoyed talking about Perez’s performance.
“He’s been incredible,” Seager said. “You can’t say enough about what he’s done.”
Seager, though, does not like talking about his successes all that much, and he had some success against Royals right-hander Brad Keller.
Seager swatted two solo home runs, one with two outs in the first and another to start the third. It was his first multi-homer game with the Rangers and the team’s first of the season, but it wasn’t Seager’s first at Globe Life Field.
He swatted two homers in Game 5 of the 2020 National League Championship Series en route to MVP honors has he lead the Dodgers past the Braves in seven games.
Seager’s first homer Tuesday was the catalyst for three two-out runs as the Rangers gave Perez an early lead. The six runs were one more than they scored in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
“It was just a good offensive night all around,” Seager said. “We had some chances in New York and it never felt like we got that big hit. To get back out there and get on the board early and get take some walks, get some big hits, and that really jump-started us.”
For the record, he was asked how good it felt to hit two home runs.
Gray is Plan A
Plan A for the Rangers going forward includes a healthy Jon Gray, the right-hander they signed to a four-year, $56 million contract to be their staff ace.
Two stints on the injured list after his first two starts forced the Rangers to adjust their plans, and the threat of a third IL stint was looming after Gray left his start Monday with athletic trainer Matt Lucero with soreness in the left knee that put him on the IL for the second time.
Alas, Plan A is back in play after Gray showed up Tuesday with no pain. The Rangers expect him to make his next start, and hopefully stay healthy enough to get into a groove.
The stuff they saw Monday in 4 1/3 innings told them that he can complete a rotation that is pitching well and continuing to gain confidence.
“Jon Gray being a part of that is huge for us moving forward,” Woodward said. “He’s our ace. To have him out there is pretty impactful for our team.”
If Perez continues to dazzle, if Dane Dunning and Glenn Otto continue to trend upward, and if Taylor Hearn takes a step forward, Woodward said the Rangers have a chance to be in every game. It helps that the bullpen is also pitching well the past three weeks.
Every starter will have games where he’s going to get hit around, but having Gray back would help prevent too many bad starts from turning into a long losing streak.
Sleepy, or really hammered. Enjoy. See you Thursday.
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 10, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org