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Thoughts on a 1-0 Rangers loss

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Rays 1, Rangers o

MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays 1, Rangers 0

  • The Rangers have lost again and been shut out for the third time in four games, and that is bad. I find myself reminding myself, though, that this is a rebuilding year, it’s about progress and process and development more so than wins and losses, and thus it’s worthwhile to focus on and enjoy progress when it’s meaningful, even in a loss.
  • And so we have the tandem outing of Dane Dunning and Taylor Hearn. If you could draw up what you would ideally like to get from a tandem outing, it would look a lot like what the Rangers got from Dunning and Hearn today.
  • Dunning started the game for Texas and got into trouble right away, allowing a one out double to Austin Meadows in the first inning, then walking Randy “Where Have You Gone” Arozarena. He got out of the inning with no issues, though, eliciting a pop up from Brandon Lowe, and then getting Manuel Margot to ground out to end the inning.
  • Between Lowe and Margot at bats, however, there was a delay that at first made no sense. Ronald Guzman, playing left field, came in on the Lowe pop up, while Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Anderson Tejeda went back on it. IKF made the catch, and everything seemed routine initially, but then Guzman pulled up hobbling, then went down on the ground. It initially seemed like he may have strained a quad or a hammy, but ultimately the cart came out, and Guzman had to be driven off the field with what was later described as a right knee injury. Given the turf at Tropicana Field, the way he pulled up, and the fact it was a non-contact injury to the knee, the concern has to be that it is a torn ACL, which would cost Guzman the 2021 season.
  • I’ve seen some complaints on here and on Twitter that seem to suggest that this was due to Guzman playing out of position, which I don’t really see as a viable complaint. Yes, Guzman was playing left field rather than first base, but he wasn’t injured because of something unique to playing the outfield that he wasn’t prepared for. He was running for a pop up and pulled up, something infielders — first basemen included — as well as outfielders do every game. Suggesting this shows that asking Guzman to play the outfield was never a good idea seems misguided.
  • Anyway, back to Dunning...he was fine after the first. Allowed a two out double in the second and a one out walk and wild pitch in the fourth, but wasn’t in trouble and gave way to Taylor Hearn after four innings and 71 pitches.
  • Hearn had some command issues in the fifth, walking a pair, but ended up striking out the side and going 1-2-3 in the sixth. Hearn retired the first two batters of the seventh, as well, and then tried to get ahead of Willy Adames with a fastball that Adames jumped on. The ball barely made it out to left-center for a solo home run, the lone run of the game. It’s a ball that gets caught in a lot of parks, or if it is just a tad more towards center...Statcast gave it an expected batting average of .320. But it’s a game of inches, and today, it was the difference in the ballgame.
  • That shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Rangers got 7 really good innings from their tandem, though. Dunning now has 11 Ks against 2 walks in 9 innings this year after fanning 5 today. Dunning isn’t going to be a big time strikeout guy, most likely, and it’s just nine innings thus far, but the early data on him is encouraging. When the Rangers acquired him for Lance Lynn, we thought we were getting a young pitcher ready to step into a major league rotation, and so far Dunning has done nothing to suggest otherwise.
  • Hearn struck out 7 batters in his 3 innings of work while walking 2, and both the fastball and slider looked impressive today to this untrained eye. Hearn was pulled after three innings and 43 pitches, and I’m curious to what extent that was just deemed to be his pitch limit versus Chris Woodward wanting to have John King pitch the eighth, as it seems like if Hearn is working on the same sort of pitch count Dunning is, he could have handled the eighth as well. Hearn also pitched on April 9 against the Padres, though, and it could be that Hearn is going to be limited a little more as far as his total pitch count goes in the second half of the tandem so he can be available in between outings for an inning out of the pen if needed.
  • So the pitching was good. The hitting was not. Tyler Glasnow was dominant tonight, striking out something-teen batters and largely seeming unhittable. Glasnow came into the game with a 599 ERA+, so, you know, he’d been good in his first two starts as well. The combination of a really good pitcher bringing his A game and this not very good Ranger offense will likely lead to some ugly offensive outings this season.
  • Jose Trevino, Eli White and Leody Taveras all got singles. Leody has, of course, been struggling, and him picking up a well struck opposite field single in the ninth was a good thing. Joey Gallo walked twice. That was it for the bats.
  • Taylor Hearn’s 97.4 mph fastball in the 6th was the fastest Ranger pitch of the game, and the 21st fastest pitch overall of the game — Tyler Glasnow had the top 20, peaking at 99.5 mph. Hearn was generally around 94-96 with his fastball today. John King reached 93.6 with his four seamer, and Dane Dunning had 7 pitches that hit 91.3 mph tonight, sitting 90-91 with his sinker most of the night.
  • Jose Trevino reached exit velocities of 102.5 and 102.4 on a single and a groundout. Anderson Tejeda scorched a 107.1 ground out, and Eli White got to 100.7 on his single.
  • We play again tomorrow, and those of you who have been wanting to see Adolis Garcia will likely get your wish, since he’s on the taxi squad and Ronald Guzman is almost certainly i.l. bound. Let’s hope this stupid turf doesn’t hurt anyone else this week.