The home-opening series in any year is always special. Opening Day is a day that baseball fans treasured. However, this season’s start had a strange feeling to it. The players, coaches, media, and fans all felt like things weren’t right. Everybody was happy baseball was back and got to sit and watch America’s Pastime, but there was an odd sense that hit a lot of us. The Rangers finished a three-game series against the Rockies that tested out the dimensions of Globe Life Field. The stadium made its inaugural debut on Friday and became a topic of discussion throughout the weekend. A few other notes hit this weekend after the Rangers’ first series.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 24, 2020
1. The offensive woes
Anytime a season begins, one of the more significant fears is starting slow out of the gate (regardless of pitcher or hitter). The Rangers offense looks out of sync, but according to Nick Solak, they are close. “We put together some good at-bats but haven’t strung them together. The offense is close,” Nick Solak said after Sunday’s 5-2 loss against the Rockies. The club hit .174 (16 for 92) in the Rockies series and hit .263 with runners in scoring position (5 for 19). Last season, the Rangers averaged five runs a game where this weekend, the team managed five total runs in three games.
On the two Rangers’ losses, Danny Santana had the best opportunities to drive home runs in the third hole. Santana went a combined 0 for 9 leaving eight total runners on base after his at-bats (most by any Rangers’ hitter the past two games). I asked Chris Woodward on Sunday if there’s a chance Santana gets moved out of the three-hole, “I think that’s true for everyone in our lineup. We need the most productive guys at the top of the lineup. Obviously not giving up on Danny by any means, probably have him the three-hole two days from now. But we also have to see production from all of the guys from the lineup”.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 26, 2020
2. Joey Gallo makes Globe Life Field History… in style!
Fans waited two days to see a baseball fly out of Globe Life Field, and they were not disappointed. In the second inning on Sunday, Joey Gallo launched a solo home run 435 feet (according to Statcast) that landed in the right-field suites. Coincidentally, Gallo homered wearing the baby blue uniforms, a color combination that his teammates and he showed excitement sporting out on Sunday. “I was thinking about it,” Joey said to me after Sunday’s game. “To be the first home run ever at Globe Life Field and be wearing the baby blues, [therefore], the first time pretty much ever all baby blues and to hit a home run, it made it a little more special.”
Gallo wasn’t sure how the fans would react, but he mentioned he liked the uniforms after the game. “I didn’t think they looked too bad, I’m sure Twitter had different thoughts, but I liked them a lot. I think it’s a pretty cool mix-up between our basic jerseys we have.”
First home run in @GlobeLifeField history mixed in with the icy baby blue uniforms ❄️…
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 27, 2020
3. Do the Rangers have a closer problem?
Without question, Jose Leclerc came into 2020 as the Rangers closer. However, he’s scuffled in his two outings while others have mowed down their inning (especially Jonathan Hernandez and Ian Gibaut). Is Leclerc in danger of losing his closer role? Of course not right now, but it’s something to think about later down the road if things start getting out of hand for Leclerc.
4. Who’s next up if Corey Kluber is hurt?
The Rangers are in a position right now to run with four starters for a week or two. The club has three off-days in a span of eight days (July 27th to August 3rd). If Texas wanted to, they could insert Jordan Lyles on Saturday, August 1st’s start against the Giants instead of August 2nd, where Chris Woodward projected him to place. The Rangers could let Kluber rest up for two weeks and give him another go on August 8th against the Angels if the shoulder issue is more day-to-day or place him on the 10-day IL and bring in another reliever from the player pool. Assuming the Rangers have to make some corresponding move, look for either Joe Palumbo, who came on Sunday for emergency relief, or Kolby Allard to fit that role.
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 26, 2020
5. The Park Atmosphere isn’t the same.
We all knew things would feel strange once the regular season started. The regular season format even looks odd, with the Rangers playing three interleague series against three different teams to start 2020 (first time in MLB history). Even the players feel that strange sense with digitally added crowd noise and cardboard cutout people that look as awkward as the store mannequins. “Yeah, I think with no fans, it’s different, it’s definitely different,” Gallo said before Sunday’s game. “For me, what I’ve realized, it’s like I don’t even when you’re in the heat of the moment anyways there in the season and there’s fans, you feel them. But at the same time, you’re so locked in that you don’t really focus too much on it.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 26, 2020
The Rangers are off on Monday and are scheduled to finish their homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks for two games. Monday morning’s news about a COVID-19 outbreak on the Miami Marlins roster is definitely something that could have a ripple effect throughout the rest of Major League Baseball.
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