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Thoughts on an 8-6 Rangers win

Rangers 8, BoSox 6

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 8, BoSox 6

  • That was an exciting game.
  • It was pretty fun, too, and kind of nerve-racking. The type of game that makes you remember how anxiety-inducing it can be to be a fan of a team with playoff aspirations. I find myself sitting here going, damn, how did I survive, like, 8 years of this sort of stress, day in and day out.
  • Jordan Lyles got the start today, and I think he was being tandemed with Taylor Hearn, but I’m not 100% clear if that was actually the plan going into tonight, or if things just worked out that way.
  • Lyles wasn’t good tonight. After a scoreless first where he gave up a single to J.D. Martinez, Lyles allowed a pair of runs in the second on a Christian Vazquez single and a Hunter Renfroe home run to put Texas down 2-0. A scoreless third that featured a Martinez walk was followed by a fourth inning that saw Boston, who had just given up three runs to Texas, tie the score with a double-single-ground out sequence.
  • After Lyles finished the fourth, he had thrown 71 pitches and gone through the lineup twice. The Rangers this spring supposedly felt that Lyles was best used for 60-70 pitches and shouldn’t go through the lineup more than twice. If you were doing the tandem starter bit with him, it would seem to follow that you’d bring in Hearn to pitch to the top of the order in the fifth.
  • That didn’t happen though. I’m not sure if, with Kohei Arihara struggling, the team wants to look at Lyles in a more traditional starter role. I’m not sure if they don’t trust Taylor Hearn with the full workload of a second leg of a tandem starter setup. Maybe they thought that Lyles was throwing well enough to stay in, though both the double and single in the fourth were hard hit, and Franchy Cordero’s inning ending ground out was 100.2 mph off the bat. Maybe they just felt that, being in the middle of a stretch of 19 days without an off day, they should try to squeeze one more inning out of Lyles.
  • It didn’t work. Christian Arroyo singled, Alex Verdugo walked, and that prompted Chris Woodward to put Lyles on the monorail to North Haverbrook and bring Hearn into the game.
  • So now you’ve got Hearn, who has struggled this season, with his command coming and, all to often, going, coming into the game with a pair of runners on and no one out. And he’s asked to face a couple of righthanded hitters — really good righthanded hitters — in J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts. Maybe Woodward was hoping to have Lyles get through Bogaerts and then bring in Hearn to face the lefty Rafael Devers, but Lyles’ inability to record an out to start the inning put the kibosh on that plan.
  • Hearn gave up a pair of singles and a walk, with a pair of runs scoring, the bases now loaded with no one out, and Rangers fans feeling a disaster inning coming on which would put the game away for Boston and create more angst for Rangers fans in regards to Taylor Hearn. And he wasn’t locating well. That said...neither of the singles were hit hard (68.9 and 89.0 mph exit velocities). The walk was a walk but Hearn wasn’t getting lit up as of this point. One could allow oneself to have some hope.
  • And if you had hope, miraculously, it wasn’t crushed like a Joey Gallo moonshot for once. Hearn got a weak grounder to Charlie Culberson that resulted in a force out at home — and might have been a DP if the throw home had been a little better. He then struck out Bobby Dalbec and Hunter Renfroe, both swinging, to end the inning. Harry Houdini ain’t got shit on Taylor Hearn!
  • Hearn retired two more batters in the sixth before giving up a single and being lifted for Josh Sborz. Sborz finished off the sixth, then came out for the seventh with a two run lead due to some marvelous Ranger bat work. He allowed a run, and Joely Rodriguez came out for the eighth.
  • More drama. Renfroe led off with a single. Kike Hernandez, pinch hitting, struck out. Arroyo singled, putting runners on first and second. Alex Verdugo grounded out to shortstop, but too slowly for an out at second, putting runners on second and third with two outs, and Martinez and Bogaerts due up.
  • The Rangers walked Martinez intentionally. I didn’t get that move. It removed your margin of error, meant a walk tied the game, created a force at any base but you had two outs so that should be less of an issue. Maybe they thought Rodriguez matched up better with Bogaerts, felt his repertoire made him more vulnerable to Martinez. I don’t know. But I didn’t like it.
  • Bogaerts grounded out to third base, though, so it all worked out.
  • Then Ian Kennedy struck out the side in the ninth to end the game. Everyone was happy.
  • The Rangers got on the board with a three run third courtesy of a Nick Solak RBI single and a Nate Lowe two RBI single. Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a solo homer in the fifth to make it 5-4. In the sixth, a Willie Calhoun two run homer put Texas ahead (and put Josh Sborz in line to pick up the win), and IKF tripled home a run to make it 7-5.
  • The final run of the game for Texas came in the eighth, with the Culb doubling home Calhoun. Willie had a big game tonight, coming a triple shy of the cycle.
  • Isiah Kiner-Falefa, meanwhile, had the much more rare “double shy of the cycle” night for Texas. Nick Solak picked up two more hits tonight, and Charlie Culberson had two hits and a walk.
  • Top velocity tonight was from Taylor Hearn — he had a couple of outliers at 98.3 and 97.8 mph, but was otherwise topping out at 97.4 mph. Josh Sborz hit 97.4 mph. Joely Rodriguez reached 95.5 mph, and Ian Kennedy hit 95.3 mph. Jordan Lyles topped out at 94.0 mph.
  • Six of the seven hardest hits balls in today’s game, and seven of the nine hardest hit, were by the Rangers. Nick Solak and Nate Lowe had singles at 103.2 and 102.9 mph, respectively. The Calhoun and IKF bombs were 102.7 and 102.3. The Culb had a 102.2 mph double, Adolis Garcia had a 101.6 mph out, and Willie Calhoun had a 100.5 mph single.
  • The Rangers can actually win the series tomorrow. Can you believe it? Me either.