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Thoughts on a 7-4 Rangers win

Rangers 7, Angels 4

Texas Rangers v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Rangers 7, Angels 4

  • Another series win on the road. Look at that.
  • I was not feeling it early on in this game. Mike Trout homered to put the hated heavenly spirits from Orange County on the board in the first inning, the offense did nothing to inspire confidence early on, and it felt like it would one of those bland, lackluster West Coast day game losses where it never feels like the Rangers were in it despite them never being down a lot, and 15 minutes after the final pitch you can’t really remember any particular plays or events from the contest.
  • Though usually those games seem to mostly happen in Oakland.
  • Foltynewicz came into today with a 5.63 ERA in 16 IP over 3 games, having given up 5 runs (including 2 home runs) his last time out against Baltimore. A quick glance at the box score would indicate he pitched well today — he logged a quality start, allowing 3 runs in 6 IP, didn’t walk anyone, struck out six, gave up only 7 hits. And he only needed 89 pitches to go 6 innings — he could have potentially gone another inning, maybe two, if asked.
  • But. The three runs were courtesy of three solo home runs off of Foltynewicz. Now, they were home runs by legit power threats — along with Trout, the other two were hit by Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani — but they were also loud home runs. Justin Upton’s home run left the bat at 116.5 mph, and got the coveted “1.000” xBA on Statcast. Mike Trout’s was 107.4 mph. Shohei Ohtani’s was 107.2. Foltynewicz gave up 3 more 100+ mph EVs today, plus a 99.9 mph EV fly out to Scott Schebler, who I’m not even sure is a real person.
  • Foltynewicz’s velocity, which disappeared in 2020, and led to him getting waived, outrighted, and allowed to become a free agent at season’s end, is back — if he isn’t throwing quite as hard as he was at his peak a few years ago, he’s at least close. I’m not sure if the movement on his pitches is the same as it was back then. But there does seem to be an issue with his location this year. Here’s Folty’s pitch map from today’s game:

At first glance, to my untrained eye, it looks like he’s leaving too many pitches in the heart of the plate.

  • Control doesn’t seem to be an issue right now — in 22 innings in 2021, he’s walked 7 batters and struck out 22. But he’s also allowed 8 home runs, and that is...bad. Coming into today he was tied for second in the majors in home runs allowed (tied with, among others, Jordan Lyles), trailing Marco Gonzalez, who had allowed 6. His 8 home runs allowed now lead the majors. He’s on pace to allow 64 home runs this season. To put this into context, Bert Blyleven holds the single season record for most home runs allowed, with 50 in 1986. Jose Lima is next, with 48 in 2000.
  • So Foltynewicz’s problem is command. It appears he’s giving up hard contact and lots of home runs because he’s leaving pitches where they can be crushed.
  • Its also worth noting that, coming into today, he had allowed a 551 OPS to hitters in their first plate appearance, a 1096 OPS to hitters in their second plate appearance, and a 986 OPS to hitters in their third plate appearance of the game. The first time through the order today he retired 7 of 9 batters, 3 by strikeout, and allowed a single and a home run. After that he retired 10 of 15 batters, 3 by strikeout, allowing two singles and two home runs.
  • So maybe Foltynewicz would be better suited for a back end of a tandem starter arrangement. Who knows.
  • Anyway. Chris Woodward turned to lefty John King for the seventh, with the Rangers down 3-1. After eliciting a Jose Iglesias ground out, King got someone named Anthony Bemboom — who also sounds made up — to hit a ball on the ground towards right center that Nick Solak made a sweet play on before turning and throwing to first. The call was that Bemboom was out, but in live action he looked clearly safe, and that’s what replay determined as well. Luis Rengifo — who, you may recall, would be in the Dodgers organization right now if Arte Moreno hadn’t gotten mad because the trade he wanted to make couldn’t be made RIGHT NOW because of Brusdar Graterol’s medicals throwing a monkey wrench into the Mookie Betts deal, resulting in Arte nixing the trade — grounded out for the second out, but David Fletcher then hit a weak grounder that he was able to beat out for an infield hit because it was so pitiful and slow a roller.
  • Then Shohei Ohtani got hit, loading the bases.
  • And so I left the room at that point. I’ve seen this movie before. I know how West Coast day games go. Nothing much happens, its a close game late, and then there’s a weak hit or two, maybe an error, a walk where the umpire squeezes the pitcher on a 2-2 pitch that should have been strike three or a ball that grazes the sleeve of the batter, and then there’s a bases clearing double or something and it suddenly is a blowout and you feel stupid for ever having hope in the first place.
  • I wasn’t going to deal with that bullshit today. I went into the other room and tried to think about something other than baseball for a few minutes.
  • When I came back the Rangers were hitting and King had gotten out of the inning. I don’t know how, because, you know, I went into the other room and wasn’t watching. But I’d like to think that he just miracled the inning over somehow.
  • Anyway. We got a lesson in how quickly the tides can turn over the however many minutes it was from King hitting Ohtani with a pitch until five batters into the top of the eighth. The Angels, having failed in a golden opportunity to blow the game wide open, still had to be feeling good because they were leading 3-1 and, hey, its the Rangers offense we are talking about. The Angels just had to limit the Rangers to 1 run or fewer over the final two innings and they win. That can’t be hard, right?
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded out to lead off the inning, leaving just five outs. Then Nick Solak walked, prompting a pitching change. I think the guy they brought in to pitch either was in Wayne’s World or he was the monster in the Halloween movies. Whoever it was, he walked Joey Gallo, bringing Adolis Garcia to the plate as the go-ahead run.
  • Look, I acknowledge it — I was an Adolis Garcia skeptic all spring. Honestly, I’m still an Adolis Garcia skeptic. I have my doubts he’s going to be able to get on base enough or make enough contact to be a major league contributor, even in a platoon role. Yes, he’s got huge power and a huge arm and some speed, but I’m not sure he can crack a .260 OBP. But he’ll get the chance to prove me wrong.
  • Much like he did today, when he crushed a mid-90s fastball from Dieter from Sprockets to deep center field, flipped his bat, and celebrated as he rounded the bases on a 3 run go ahead home run to make it a 4-3 game. If Garcia keeps doing that, he’ll prove me very very wrong.
  • Nate Lowe immediately followed Garcia’s home run with a bomb of his own, making it 5-3. Lowe got off to that red hot start, of course, then slumped for a bit, leading to some sniping about him being Mitch Moreland 2.0. Lowe is now at .254/.346/.493 on the year which, I think, we would all be happy with.
  • No more scoring in the 8th, but the Rangers put a couple more on the board in the 9th. Leody Taveras drew a one out walk — his second walk of the game, though he didn’t have a hit — and went to third on an Isiah Kiner-Falefa single, with IKF advancing to second on the throw. Nick Solak and Joey Gallo repeated their exploits from the previous inning, as each drew a walk, and Gallo’s was an RBI walk, so hahaha to all you people who complain about Gallo walking because walks don’t drive home runs. Adolis came up with the bases loaded and we were all amped but he popped out on a 2-0 pitch for the second out. Things still worked out okay though because a Junior Guerra balk brought IKF home for the seventh and final run. Nate Lowe then smoked a line drive that was 103.0 off the bat but it was flagged down, ending the inning.
  • The lone Ranger run before the Adolis 8th inning bomb came in the fourth, on a Gallo walk, a Lowe walk, a single by Charlie Culberson, and a Jonah Heim sac fly. Joey Gallo sure did walk a lot today.
  • It was 3 walks and 2 Ks today for Gallo, so he had 5 plate appearances, scored two runs, had an RBI, and never put a ball in play. That’s an accomplishment.
  • Joely Rodriguez pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, if you’re curious. Ian Kennedy pitched the ninth, gave up a solo home run, but, you know, he had a four run lead, so who cares.
  • Mike Foltynewicz was the hardest throwing Ranger pitcher today, at 95.4 mph, and had in all four sinkers and two four seamers that were at least 95.0 mph. John King had a 94.7 mph sinker, and again, I’m really baffled by this because this was the guy who was throwing 80 mph his final season at the University of Houston, but whatever, its 2021, Rapsodos and Bullfrog sunscreen are turning these guys into Pitcherbot 9000s. Joely Rodriguez topped out at 94.3 mph and John King at 94.1 mph.
  • Adolis Garcia’s home run left the bat at 104.5 mph, and he had a 101.2 mph single. Nate Lowe’s home run was 100.5 mph, which was less than that ninth inning 103.0 mph fly out I mentioned earlier. Nick Solak had a 101.7 mph fly out, Jonah Heim’s sacrifice fly was 101.1, and no other Ranger had even a 95 mph EV.
  • The Rangers are now 9-10 on the season, and are off tomorrow before starting a three game set in Chicago against the White Sox. Tony LaRussa is managing the ChiSox, which means the Rangers will be facing a LaRussa managed team for the first time since...gosh, I don’t remember. Anyone know when that was?