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Thoughts on a 4-3 Rangers win

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Rangers 4, A’s 3

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Rangers 4, A’s 3

  • Well, will you look at that? The Rangers won a series in Oakland, and had a winning road trip.
  • This is, it appears, the first winning road trip of the season that involved playing more than one team. The road woes may not be completely behind the Rangers, but for a team that went winless on ten, nine and six game road trips this season, it feels kind of significant.
  • Taylor Hearn had another Quality Start, and his recent transition from hard throwing guy with command issues to strike throwing starting pitcher has been quite unexpected. Hearn logged his third straight start without allowing a walk, needing just 80 pitches to go six innings, allowing three runs on five hits, two of which were home runs.
  • If there is a note of concern here with Hearn, it is that he isn’t generating a ton of whiffs — he got nine swinging strikes on Sunday, but struck out just two batters, and even with no walks, allowing as many homers as you strike batters out is not a recipe for success. That said, thusfar, the results have been encouraging — in five starts since joining the rotation in mid-August, he has allowed 13 runs in 29.2 IP, striking out 20, walking just two and allowing seven home runs. 70% of his pitches during that time have been strikes.
  • Hearn has embraced Chris Woodward’s mantra about trusting your stuff and throwing strikes, and as we have discussed, that’s going to likely mean more longballs from time to time. As we know from the prime Colby Lewis days, the occasional solo shot isn’t going to kill you, and throwing strikes means working deeper into games. You’d like to see more Ks from Hearn, but again, this is encouraging.
  • Hearn seems on track to make three more starts this year. No matter what he does in those, we aren’t going to be inking him in next to Dane Dunning as the guys who enter spring training 2022 with rotation spots pretty much locked down. My guess is that the Rangers go get a couple of starting pitchers to join Dunning as guys who are solidly in the rotation when spring training opens, and then have Hearn, Spencer Howard, Kolby Allard, Glenn Otto, and some NRIs vying for the last couple of rotation spots for 2022, with whoever is still around from the injured/recovery from injury pitchers (Brock Burke, Kyle Cody, Joe Palumbo), A.J. Alexy, Cole Winn, and Jack Leiter behind them.
  • Dennis Santana was brought in to protect a one run lead in the seventh, which had me briefly wondering if Chris Woodward isn’t on #TeamTank after all. Santana has been shaky this season, and his coming into the game does not provide me with a good deal of confidence. He did what he needed to do, however, throwing two shutout innings while just allowing a walk.
  • New closer Joe Barlow pitched a clean ninth, lowering his ERA on the year to 1.59 and notching his sixth save, and that was the ballgame. Texas pulled it out, and Oakland lost one more game to make their fading playoff chances grow that much dimmer.
  • The Rangers had a lot of hits on Sunday — 11, to the A’s 5 — though of course, two of the A’s five hits were of the roundtripper variety, while the Rangers didn’t have any homers, and when it comes to efficiency in scoring runs, it is hard to beat a homer.
  • The Rangers took the lead in the top of the third, when Yohel Pozo doubled to lead off the inning, then went to third on a Yonny Hernandez single. that saw Yonny go to second on the throw. After a Leody Taveras foul out, Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled home the runners, advancing to second on the throw. Adolis Garcia singled and then Nathaniel “Nate” Lowe walked to load the bases. A Jonah Heim sac fly brought home the final run of the inning.
  • Leody brought home the final run the following inning, on a two out line drive triple that brought Jason Martin home, and also saw Chad Pinder make a very unsuccessful diving attempt at the ball. Leody was just 1 for 5 on the day, but once again, he didn’t strike out, he did a good job controlling the strike zone, and he made some hard contact. The Leody we are seeing in September looks like a solid major league player. Let’s hope we see this continue over the final three weeks.
  • Taylor Hearn hit 96.3 mph on his sinker, averaging 93.7 mph, and maxed out at 96.2 mph on his four seamer, averaging 94.3 mph. He got three swinging strikes apiece on his four seamer, slider and changeup. Dennis Santana touched 96.8 mph with his sinker, and Joe Barlow’s four seamer hit 95.6 mph.
  • Jonah Heim had the hardest hit ball of the game, a 108.4 mph single. Leody’s triple was 104.8 mph, and he also had a 102.4 mph groundout to lead off the game. Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a 104.7 mph single and a 101.2 mph lineout, while Adolis Garcia had a 104.6 mph GIDP and a 100.3 mph single.
  • Texas is back home today to face the Houston Astros. Let’s see if they can keep playing solid ball and winning the occasional game or two.