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Thoughts on a 10-8 Rangers loss

Jays 10, Rangers 8

MLB: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Jays 10, Rangers 8

  • Jon Gray made his Ranger debut and showed off the sassy sweeper slider that the Rangers pitching coaches talked to him about during the team’s recruitment of Gray as a free agent. Things went swimmingly for him through the first three innings, as he faced the minimum, giving up a single to the 8th place hitter in the third but eliminating the runner on a GIDP.
  • Things did not go swimmingly in the fourth for Gray. His command suddenly deserting him, he went walk, single, single, walk, resulting in a run scoring and the bases being loaded with no one out. Gray got out of the jam without any more baserunners but with a pair of runs scoring on a fielders choice and a sac fly.
  • After the inning the cameras showed Gray’s right middle finger being examined, which would perhaps explain the problems in the fourth. Gray was lifted after four innings, apparently because of a blister.
  • Gray’s early departure would seem to be no big problem, as Texas had a 7-3 lead, and the bullpen could protect that, right?
  • Alas. No.
  • John King started the fifth and retired the first two batters he faced on ground balls. He then walked George Springer and gave up a single to Bo Bichette. Chris Woodward, apparently figuring, what’s the point of having a ten man bullpen if you aren’t going to use it, went to Josh Sborz to gain the platoon advantage against the righty-swinging Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez.
  • Guerrero singled, Hernandez homered, and the 7-0 lead just a couple of innings earlier had completely vanished.
  • Sborz got the final out of the fifth, and I assumed that he was done for the night. I assumed wrong. Sent back out for the sixth, he retired the first two batters he faced, then walked the #8 hitter on four pitches. He followed that up by allowing a double to someone named Santiago Espinal, giving Toronto an 8-7 lead.
  • It was very discouraging.
  • That finally led to the departure of Sborz, with Dennis Santana coming into the game to end the inning on a 3-2 backwards K of George Springer.
  • Of course, Santana then went back out for the eighth. Bo Bichette reached on a Corey a Seager error, then Vlad Jr. smoked a ball that was, thankfully, caught. The Rangers caught a break when Santana caught Bichette leaning the wrong way — Bichette was initially called safe diving back to first on the pickoff attempt, but a Ranger challenge got the call reversed.
  • So with two outs, Santana walked Teoscar Hernandez. Lourdes Gurriel doubled to left, but an excellent relay from Seager resulted in Hernandez being called out at home for the third out.
  • But challenges giveth, and challenges taketh away. The Jays challenged, the call was reversed, and it was 9-8 Jays. It looked like Mitch Garver was farther back of the plate than he maybe should have been, and was a bit tentative with the tag. Whatever the reason, that was the winning run.
  • Greg Holland pitched the eighth and gave up a home run. That was fun.
  • I will note that, per the broadcast, the Rangers are not wanting to use any relievers on back to back days after the short spring training. That somewhat limits Woodward’s options. In addition, the Jays are a very righty-heavy lineup, which means that the lefty options in the pen are likely to be used less, and, as in the case of King today, for shorter stints. And of course, Gray having to come out early because of an apparent blister threw a wrench in things.
  • Nonetheless, Texas had a 7-0 lead and blew it. That’s very bad.
  • This is, come to think of it, exactly the sort of game the Rangers could have used Garrett Richards in. They needed multiple innings from an effective righthanded reliever. But for his blister and i.l. stint, he would have likely been in the game in the fifth or sixth.
  • All this overshadowed a big day by the offense, at least early on. The very first batter of the season, Brad Miller, homered. The Rangers chased starter Jose Berrios in the first inning, scoring five runs. You may recall the Rangers scored six in the first inning of the opener last year, and went on to lose. This is becoming a trend.
  • Corey Seager had a pair of hits and a walk. Mitch Garver homered, singled and walked. Adolis Garcia homered and walked. Nathaniel Lowe had a pair of singles.
  • One would think 8 runs should suffice.
  • As a side note, after a nice Nathaniel Lowe scoop at first base, there was a discussion of the work Lowe had done to improve his defense this offseason. The broadcast mentioned that Lowe was 27 for 38 in scoops in 2021, which was middle of the pack, they said. I mention this because there has been a bunch of moaning in the comments here about Lowe’s purportedly poor scooping ability costing countless errors and runs last year. That apparently wasn’t the case.
  • Looking at Statcast, Mitch Garver’s home run was 110.3 mph off the bat. Nathaniel Lowe had a 109.5 mph single. Corey Seager’s double was 108.3 mph. Brad Miller’s lead off home run was 106.5, and he had a groundout at 100.9. Adolis Garcia reached 104.8 mph on his home run and 102.1 mph on a fly out. Andy Ibanez had a 101.2 mph ground out,
  • For the pitchers, Dennis Santana topped out at 98.5 mph, and Josh Sborz at 98.1 mph. It would have been nice if they could have commanded that heat a little better though. Jon Gray hit 96.7 mph. John King maxed out at 93.5, and Greg Holland at 93.3.
  • Game One in the books. 161 to go.