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Thoughts on a 7-4 Rangers win

Rangers 7, M’s 4

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 7, Mariners 4

  • That was a win the Rangers really needed.
  • It was also a solid outing that Martin Perez really needed. Coming off back-to-back 8-runs-allowed games, and with Doug Fister due off the d.l. as soon as Wednesday, Perez was in a precarious situation. Even David Murphy and Mike Bascik, on the pre-game show, were talking about this being a “what have you done for me lately” league, and how Perez could be banished to the bullpen if he struggled again today.
  • Perez had made an adjustment with his arm-slot in a bullpen session earlier in the week, though, and indicated that he thought he’d be much improved today. And that was borne out, with Perez pitching a solid game today. It was a 6 inning quality start, with 4 Ks, a single walk, and 7 hits allowed.
  • Perhaps Perez’s most impressive inning was the second. After a 1-2-3 first, Perez allowed a single to Nelson Cruz to start the inning, and then, on a 2-2 pitch to Kyle Seager, come inside with a pitch that Seager started to swing at, and then sort of reacted to, with the result being that he was hit on the arm and was awarded first. Ichiro followed that up with a little dribbler to no man’s land between the mound, first and second that Ronald Guzman Joey Gallo fielded, but that Ichiro was able to beat out, loading the bases with no one out. Perez got out of it, though, getting a line out to third base, a strikeout, and a fielder’s choice grounder to escape with no runs allowed.
  • The M’s didn’t get on the board until the fifth, when Ben Gamel tripled to left field on a ball that Renato Nunez turned into an adventure. Jean Segura singled, went to second on a balk, and then scored on a Mitch Haniger double. Perez escaped without further damage, though, getting Robinson Cano to ground out, Nelson Cruz to line out, and Kyle Seager to fly out to end the inning.
  • The Rangers have gotten decent starting pitching of late, so of course, the bullpen, which had looked like it might be a strength early on, has started to crater. Matt Bush came into the game in the top of the seventh to protect a 5-2 lead, and promptly gave up an infield single to Segura and a home run to Haniger — the third time in three games Haniger has homered off of a Ranger reliever. A Cano walk and a Cruz fly out ended Bush’s day, as he was replaced by Jake Diekman, who started off almost as badly, making an error to allow Seager to get on and then walking Ichiro to load the bases. Diekman fanned David Freitas and Mike Zunino to escape the inning, though, and keep the Rangers in the lead.
  • Kevin Jepsen had a clean 8th inning, but Keone Kela allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs in the ninth before striking out Seager and Ichiro, and then getting pinch hitter Dee Gordon to pop out to Jurickson Profar, who made a sprawling catch to record the final out.
  • Bush has still not found his groove this season, an issue that some may blame on the attempt this spring to work as a starting pitcher, and he could find his roster spot in jeopardy this week. With just a three man bench, the Rangers will have to drop a pitcher to make room for Fister if he is activated on Wednesday, as expected, and Tony Barnette is also eligible to return from the d.l. on Wednesday. While Jose Leclerc could get optioned again to clear one spot, Bush also has options remaining, and isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence at this point. He could end up going to Round Rock to see if he can get back on track.
  • Delino DeShields was activated today and returned to the lineup, and while he didn’t impact the offense, going 0 for 4 on the day, he made a huge play in the field, snagging a ball at the wall in dead center field off the bat of David Freitas which would have, at a minimum, been a run-scoring double. Martin Perez owes DeShields dinner for that play.
  • Texas got on the board first today in the second, when Adrian Beltre doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a Joey Gallo ground out, and scored on a Jurickson Profar ground out. The fourth inning was the one with the fireworks, however...with one out, Nomar Mazara cranked a 428 foot blast to right center field, a ball that Statcast measured at 113 mph off the bat, the hardest Mazara has ever hit a home run in his career. Adrian Beltre followed that up with a walk, and then Joey Gallo got the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Erasmo Ramirez, and went the other way for a home run over the visitor’s bullpen in left-center to make it a 4-0 game.
  • When a batter swings on 3-0 and pops out or is otherwise ineffective, it results in much derision. But when someone with Gallo’s power is facing a 3-0 pitch, and looks for a get-over fastball in a certain location, he can do some damage and change the course of the game. As a fan, watching a hitter get up 3-0, then sit with his bat on his shoulder while a fastball goes down the middle, then wave at a 3-1 offspeed pitch, can be a bit maddening...I’m on board with power hitters looking to destroy 3-0 meatballs.
  • Juan Centeno scored the fifth run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, reaching on a one out double, moving to third on a DeShields ground out, and then scoring on a Choo infield single. The final two runs came in the eighth, when Beltre’s one out double was followed by a Joey Gallo IBB and a Profar unintentional BB. Bases loaded situations have been toxic for Rangers bats for much of the season, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa was unfazed, dumping a single into center to bring home a pair of runs, and provide the final 7-4 margin of victory.
  • Along with his walk and home run, Gallo got on base via an HBP, after he had shown bunt against the extreme shift. I can’t imagine that the M’s were throwing at Gallo for showing bunt, but it prompted a fair amount of talk, and Jeff Banister did some glaring.
  • It was a disappointing series, highlighted by bullpen disasters on Friday and Saturday, but there continue to be some positive signs from this team. The Rangers now have three at home against Oakland before their next offday on Thursday, with Matt Moore, Cole Hamels, and likely Doug Fister starting for Texas.