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Thoughts on a 3-1 Rangers win

Rangers 3, Royals 1

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers 3, Royals 1

  • And the Rangers have won a series against the hated Kansas City Royals. Huzzah!
  • Due to a pair of off days last week, the Rangers moved Taylor Hearn to the bullpen for last weekend’s series against the New York Yankees. Despite the doubleheader on Sunday and the makeup game on Monday’s scheduled offday, Hearn was not needed in relief, so his start Thursday against the Royals was his first outing since May 1.
  • If Hearn was rusty, he didn’t really show it, other than the fact he was removed after 64 pitches, his lowest pitch count of the season. That still got Hearn through five innings, though, which is quality efficiency, if not a Quality Start.
  • The end line for Hearn was 5 IP, 1 hit, 3 walks, 5 Ks, no runs allowed. While Hearn did give up a pair of barrels, both went for fly outs, and the lone hit was a two out single by Michael A. Taylor. Hearn didn’t get many swings and misses — just two on his four seamer and three on his slider — he also allowed an average exit velocity of just 80.2 mph, which is pretty good.
  • Maybe there’s something to be said for letting hitters put the ball in play in this mushball era.
  • Brock Burke continued his strong start to the year with two shutout, no hit innings, recording a walk and a strikeout. Burke’s usage this year has been interesting...he has gone at least two innings of eight of his ten appearances, and he almost always is used on either two or three days rest, pitching either every third day or every fourth day. I tend to think that that is by design — the Rangers, at least early on, want to make sure he is properly rested between outings, given the 2020 shoulder surgery that put his career in jeopardy, and so are using him on more of a regular schedule than you’d expect a reliever to be used. So far, it is paying off.
  • John King came into the game and scared everyone, getting MJ Melendez to ground out to start the inning, then allowing three straight singles. Four straight ground balls is a very John King outing, but sometimes ground balls get through, even if the data says it is unlikely — the xBA on the three hits was .210, .450 and .070 — so maybe we don’t want to let hitters put the ball in play, even in this mushball era.
  • In any case, that meant two on and one out, and the Royals getting their first run of the game. The good news was that the Rangers had scored a runner in the bottom of the seventh on a Brad Miller home run that Dave Raymond, at the time, called a big insurance run, and that Raymond and David Murphy both expressed much relief over in the top of the eighth, since the Royals run made it a 2-1 game rather than a 1-1 game.
  • Everything was fine though, as it turned out. King fanned Hunter Dozier swinging, and Matt Bush was then brought in to face Witt the Younger, who also struck out swinging.
  • I mentioned yesterday that Matt Bush almost always enters at the beginning of an inning, and almost never comes back out for the next inning after he finishes an inning. Well, Chris Woodward brought Bush in mid-inning Thursday, but he did have him just face the one batter, with Joe Barlow finishing the game out in the ninth for the save.
  • The bats continued to not do a lot, but they did enough to win, at least. Texas got on the board in the first courtesy of a Brad Miller single, a 1-3 groundout that moved Miller to second, a walk, and then a two out bloop single by Kole Calhoun.
  • The Rangers threatened again in the second, with Eli White singling with one out and stealing second, and then Miller drawing a walk to put two on with two out for Jonah Heim. Heim grounded out to end the inning, though, part of an 0 for 4 night in the #2 spot in the lineup.
  • Rangers #2 hitters are slashing .187/.221/.236 this year, incidentally. Rangers #9 hitters are slashing .305/.374/.516. So there you go.
  • The Rangers loaded the bases in the fourth on a Nick Solak single followed by one out walks to Eli White and Andy Ibanez. Amir Garrett was brought in to replace starter Jonathan Heasley, however, and he got Miller and Heim to pop out to end the inning.
  • White’s 1 for 3 with a walk has him now slashing .281/.395/.438, and of course he’s a terrific defender and baserunner. He and Burke are doing their best to make that Jurickson Profar three way deal look good right now.
  • Texas didn’t threaten again until the 7th, when Brad Miller hit a home run off the right field foul pole. For reasons unfathomable, Royals manager Mike Matheny asked for the call to be reviewed, even though the ball very clearly hit the middle of the foul pole. Maybe someone in the Royals dugout needed a break to go pee.
  • The final run of the game was all Adolis Garcia’s doing, as he led off the eighth rifling a ball down the right field line and hustling for a triple, then scored on a wild pitch that didn’t get that far away from MJ Melendez, but got far enough away for him to score.
  • The Rangers, incidentally, have been perhaps the best baserunning team in baseball this year, which has helped them score a middling number of runs despite a less than middling team OPS.
  • Taylor Hearn topped out at 95.3 mph, with an average fastball velocity of 93.7 mph. Brock Burke hit 98.1 mph on his four seamer, which...yeah, that’s fast. John King reached 93.1 mph on his sinker. Joe Barlow’s four seamer touched 96.6 mph. Matt Bush threw four pitches, all fastballs, maxing out at 98.3 mph.
  • Brad Miller’s home run was 104.4 mph. The only other 100+ mph exit velocity for the Rangers was by Nathaniel Lowe, who once again hit a fly ball hard — 100.2 mph on Thursday — but got under it, resulting in a fly out.
  • Series wins are good. The Rangers now start a weekend series against the reeling Boston Red Sox. Let’s see if they can keep the good vibes going.