Wednesday newsletter time: With little margin for error, Rangers make several in costly eighth inning
(AP Photo/LM Otero)
ARLINGTON — General manager Chris Young made his way into the Rangers’ dugout Monday during batting practice and was cornered into an informal media scrum.
(We won’t do that every time. Promise. Keep on coming.)
Among the things discussed was how the Rangers, while greatly improved from 2021, have very little margin for error. One play that doesn’t get made frequently comes back to bite them.
The eighth inning Tuesday illustrated that point.
The Rangers failed to get an out on a simple rundown between third base and home, a play that served as a catalyst to a four-run rally that sent the Astros to a 4-3 victory.
It wasn’t so much the bobble on the rundown as much as the decision by shorstop Corey Seager to throw home instead of attempting to turn a double play.
The Houston bats had been silenced by Dane Dunning, who tossed six scoreless innings on two hits (and four walks), and Matt Bush, who worked a perfect seventh. Left-hander John King had the eighth, and the Astros opened with singles by Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley.
Alex Bregman was next, and he hit a sharp grounder Seager at double-play depth. But Seager threw home and caught Altuve in a rundown, and catcher Sam Huff was driving him back to third when he tossed the ball to third baseman Ezequiel Duran.
The throw was high but catchable, and Duran didn’t catch it. Altuve scored, Brantley and Bregman were at second and third, and Brantley scored on a Yordan Alvarez grounder.
“In Duran’s case, you have to make sure you secure the ball,” manager Chris Woodward said.
Kyle Tucker followed Alvarez in a lefty-lefty matchup, and drove the first pitch for a go-ahead two-run homer. King faced three left-handed batters and retired only two of them.
Seager and Woodward discussed whether he made the right decision, and Seager admitted to the manager he should have gone to second base. The Rangers would have conceded a run but would have had the bases empty with two outs and Alvarez up in another lefty-lefty matchup.
And they would have had a two-run lead.
“In his defense, he’s trying to make a play, but we still have to get an out,” Woodward said
King allowed all four runs (three earned) on a mere nine pitches, and his ERA sits at 5.19.
Woodward said that King did his job, getting three groundballs, and should have gotten out of the inning with a lead. The only mistake King made was a hanging slider that Tucker deposited over the wall in right-center field.
“I would have liked to throw it more outside,” King said. “When you don’t execute against these guys, they’ve been there, done that and make you pay.”
King has been the Rangers’ primary eighth-inning reliever all season, but has struggled some of late. He struggled Friday in the eighth, allowing five runs in an inning that started in a 3-3 tie, and Woodward said it might be time to give him a mental breather by using him in lower-leverage situations.
“I think it’s not fair to him to keep putting him in that situation,” Woodward said.
The return of right-handers Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez will also likely relegate King to a different role. Leclerc could be ready to return from the injured list as soon as this weekend.
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That’s it, I think.
Someone must have given the baby chili! Enjoy. See you Thursday.
Whoa! That ain't normal kid…😂👶🐶🔊 pic.twitter.com/4qPMWoioer
— Laughs 4 All 🤟 (@Laughs_4_All) June 14, 2022
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org