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Monday was fairly quiet in terms of Texas Rangers news, so here’s an interesting item pulled from the game notes about the team that couldn’t score runs last season.
The 2021 Rangers have been scoring.
Entering Monday, the Rangers had scored at least nine runs in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 2019 at Baltimore, and they were batting and MLB-best .301 in the first nine games of May.
They had four games with at least five extra-base hits in May and posted at least five extra-base hits in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 2019.
So, maybe they worn out Monday night after all that weekend hitting.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.
No margin for errors
Alex Wood has been rolling so far this season for the Giants, and his strong start on the mound continued Monday. In other words, the Rangers’ offense didn’t have a good night.
So, there was no margin for our on the mound or with the gloves.
But tied at 1 in the seventh the Rangers made two mistakes, uncharacteristic mistakes judging by how the season has gone, that cost them the game.
The first was by John King, and it wasn’t the pitch that pinch-hitter Mauricio Dubon hit into left field for the game-winning RBI. King’s mistake came two batters earlier when he issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Austin Slater.
The Rangers have stressed the importance of attacking the strike zone, which King did in striking out the first two batters in the seventh. The entered Monday with the second-lowest walks-per-nine-innings ratio in the majors.
The walk was, indeed, uncharacteristic.
“He gave them a little bit of hope,” manager Chris Woodward said.
King didn’t get out of the inning. Darin Ruf followed with a pinch single after King fell behind in the count to give Dubon a chance.
His single made it 2-1. The next batter was Mike Yastrzemski, who hit a grounder to third baseman Charlie Culberson. He fielded it cleanly, but his throw was short and shipped away from first baseman Nate Lowe as another Ruf came home.
“It’s just one of those nights,” Woodward said. “We’ve been playing really good defense, especially on the infield. I trust these guys. Unfortunately tonight we didn’t play that well.”
Gibson’s good, tough night
The final numbers might suggest that Kyle Gibson had a fairly easy night. He allowed only one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
He did what every starting pitcher hopes to do for his team. He gave them a chance to win.
But the Giants didn’t make it easy on Gibson, who had to throw 103 pitches to record 18 outs. It started early, with the Giants seeing 23 pitches from a starter who working with an extra day’s rest.
“Kyle was good,” Woodward said. “He probably wasn’t the sharpest he’s been. Once he got settled in he pitched really well. He gave us a chance to win the game.”
The only run against Gibson came in the fifth, when Brandon Belt connected for an opposite-field home run. Gibson tried to mix the speed on a 2-0 sinker, throwing it at only 90 mph rather than the usual 92-94, but Belt wasn’t fooled.
“If I had it to do over again, I would have thrown my best bullet there,” Gibson said.
Gibson was making his eighth start of the season and turned in his seventh straight quality start since allowing five runs and recording only one out Opening Day. He has pitched like an ace, not just the best pitcher on a losing team.
On Monday, he figured out a way to pitch well enough without his best stuff.
“I’ve said it before: You’re not going to have your best stuff every start, and there are going to be quite a few starts where you don’t have your best stuff,” Gibson said. “You have to figure out a way to get through five, six, seven innings and give the team a chance to win.”
Benjamin getting the call?
The Rangers need a starter for Friday at Houston after placing right-hander Kohei Arihara on the injured list with a bruised middle finger.
That move should have been made after his start against the Boston Red Sox, who connected for four homers and six runs off Arihara in 2 2/3 innings. He first mentioned the injury then, and was given a anti-inflammatory shot in the finger.
Why not give him the time down at that point? The outcome Saturday, when he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings, seemed awfully predictable.
Benjamin is at Triple A Round Rock, demoted after a few shaky relief outings, and recalling him require sending out a player. He pitched well in Round Rock’s season opener Thursday, tossing five scoreless innings on four hits.
He said before the Express season started that he didn’t need to make any mechanical adjustments but needed to find the feel for his slider again. He worked that out at the alternate training site, and also went back to using his best off-speed pitch.
“My cutter/slider was getting a little loopy, and I didn’t start it in the zone,” Benjamin said Wednesday. “Everything would look like a ball and no one would swing at it and I would get behind in counts. The next thing they really wanted me to look into is, the curveball is one of my best pitches and I was barely using it.”
Benjamin struck out eight Thursday and walked only one, which was more in line with what the Rangers saw in spring training and April 4 in the Rangers’ first victory of the season at Kansas City.
Yang allowed one run 3 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts in his first MLB start Wednesday at Minnesota but needed some help John King out of the bullpen. The Rangers might be concerned about how deep into the game Yang could go after throwing 61 pitches against the Twins.
Allard has been very good out of the bullpen (3.52 ERA), and the Rangers might want to keep him working in a tandem role.