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Thoughts on an 11-4 Rangers loss

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Royals 11, Rangers 4

Texas Rangers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Royals 11, Rangers 4

  • I liked it better when the Rangers also scored double digit runs when they allowed the Royals to score double digit runs.
  • Shades of the opener today, as the Rangers once again put up a crooked number in the first inning, had an early lead, and then gave it up. The Rangers didn’t put up nearly the offensive performance they did Thursday, though. On the positive side, their starting pitcher recorded more than one out.
  • Kohei Arihara made his major league debut today, and looked pretty decent his first time through the order — he had an HBP to Whit Merrifield to start the game, but didn’t allow a runner after that until a Hanser Alberto double with one out in the third. In the fourth he gave up a two out Salvador Perez double, but got Jorge Soler to fly out to end the inning.
  • So Arihara went into the fifth inning with a four run lead and having kept the Royals off the board. Facing the bottom of the order it felt like things were looking up...you probably didn’t want Arihara to go through the lineup three times, but if he could finish out the fifth and maybe even start the sixth, that would be a good thing.
  • Alas. The shutout was broken up by Michael Taylor, he of the two assists at home plate on Thursday, who led off the inning with a bomb to deep center. Kyle Isbel then hit a high fly to deep center that was playable for Leody Taveras...only Leody lost it in the sun, and it ended up going for a triple. Hanser followed that up with his second double of the game, and then Nicky Lopez’s well-placed drag bunt put runners on first and third with still no one out. Arihara was able to get out of the inning, getting Merrifield to ground into what could have been a double play but ended up being just a force out when Isiah Kiner-Falefa initially bobbled the grounder, and then got a double play when Andrew Benintendi lined to IKF with Merrifield being well off first and able to be doubled off.
  • With a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, things officially fell apart. Josh Sborz was brought in to face the middle of the Royals lineup. He went walk-single-walk and was promptly lifted for John King. King gave up a double to Taylor to give the Royals the lead, then a single to Isbel that gave them a two run lead. Hanser reached on his third hit of the game, an infield single that was initially called an error on Nick Solak, whose glovework at second is, of course, why he was tried in the outfield for a while. After a Lopez K, Merrifield singled home two more runs, and then after an F8 Carlos Santana brought home the final two runs of the inning with a double. When the smoke had cleared and the inning was over, the Rangers had turned a narrow lead into a yawning, ugly deficit.
  • Nick Solak is not a good defensive second baseman. If he hits it isn’t that big a deal. If he doesn’t hit, well, then it is a big deal.
  • Both John King and Taylor Hearn were supposedly in consideration for a tandem starter. Both pitched on Thursday, but the off day meant that there would still be four days rest before whichever was the tandem starter would be used again. King being brought into this game seems to indicate that Hearn will be tandeming, and King is the lefty in the pen until Brett Martin is activated.
  • Rule 5 pick Brett de Geus, who had an awful debut on Thursday, bounced back, getting three ground balls to the left side of the infield after a leadoff walk to Soler. He lowered his ERA on the year to 13.50.
  • In the cool story (no bro) category, Matt Bush made it back on the mound for the first time in the majors since 2018, and the first time, period, since the summer of 2019. In his return from Tommy John surgery he allowed a homer to the second batter he faced and then walked a batter, but fanned Santana and Perez to end the inning. Neat to see him make it back, and looking like he could be effective.
  • Bush, by the way, is 35 years old. And he has three years of team control remaining after 2021, in case you were curious.
  • As for the offense, the David Dahl/Joey Gallo reunion continues to pay dividends. Dahl double to left field with one out in the top of the first, and scored on Gallo’s 450 foot home run on 1-2 Mike Minor pitch. That’s Gallo’s first home run of the year, and his fourth career two strike homer off a lefty.
  • The pair also scored the Rangers other two runs, in the third. With two out, Dahl reached on an infield single, and then Gallo drew a walk. A Nick Solak HBP set the stage for a Nate Lowe line drive opposite field single to bring home Dahl and Gallo.
  • I regret to inform you that was the last of the runs the Rangers would score today.
  • The closest thing to a rally the rest of the way was in the 8th, when Gallo walked, Solak singled, and they both advanced on a wild pitch. Nate Lowe struck out for the second out, however, and Ronald Guzman, pinch hitting for Eli White, struck out swinging on a 98 mph fastball in the upper part of the strike zone.
  • The Rangers logged a whopping 6 hits on the day. 5 I told you about. The sixth was a Jose Trevino single. Aside from Gallo’s two walks, the only base on balls was issued to Solak.
  • It was a bad day for IKF, who struck out three times. It was also a bad day for Leody, who, along with losing the ball in the sun for a triple, struck out twice today after striking out four times yesterday. He’s 0 for 9 with 6 Ks in the first two games of the season, and with the getaway game tomorrow, he may end up getting the day off (though — spoiler alert — he did have some good contact today).
  • Joey Gallo’s home run was the hardest hit ball of the day, with an 111.7 mph exit velocity, just ahead of the 111.4 that Taylor’s home run registered at. Other than Gallo, the Rangers 100+ mph balls in play were all outs — Jose Trevino had a 109.3 groundout in the 9th, Leody had a 107.6 groundout in the 9th and a 101.9 fly out in the 4th, IKF had a 100.6 ground out in the 3rd, and Nate Lowe smoked a 105.4 EV ball that went for a GIDP. Leody’s two balls in play had xBAs of .540 and .620 — the fourth inning fly out went 397 feet and looked like it had a chance to leave the park — so there’s some positive process info there, at least.
  • Josh Sborz topped the Rangers’ radar gun tonight, topping out at 97.6 mph and hitting at least 97.0 mph four more times. Four of those five pitches were balls, though. Brett de Geus and Matt Bush each hit 96.2, with Bush having several more pitches over 95.0 mph. John King topped out at 94.5 mph, while Kohei Arihara reached 94.2 mph.
  • So that was a blowout. After two games, the Rangers’ defense has been sloppy and the pitching has been terrible. The offense has kept things at least interesting at times, so that’s something, at least.
  • Series finale tomorrow afternoon, with the tandeming of...Jordan Lyles, I think? And probably Wes Benjamin? Googling seems to indicate that’s the plan. I think that the tandem starters should be listed as Jordan Lyles feat. Wes Benjamin. Make it seem like the second guy is doing a guest track. Let’s flavor it up a little, hey?
  • Wes Benjamin is someone I think will be worth watching tomorrow. Yeah, yeah, I am sure that there are folks not even reading the rest of this so they can go down to the comments and say no one should watch Wes Benjamin and he shouldn’t be on the roster, but the progress he’s made since learning about and adopting pitch design has apparently been significant, and moved him from organizational depth to someone who may be able to be a viable major league contributor. I have no idea how he will do tomorrow, or going forward, but its something different and in this season where we aren’t expecting to win much, different is worth following.
  • At least it is to me.