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Six Takeaways From Opening Weekend for the Rangers

Six Takeaways From Opening Weekend for the Rangers

The first weekend is in the books of 2024 as the Texas Rangers start their journey to protect their title. It was a weekend filled with joyfulness, determination, anxiousness, and possibly some angst to end the last game. The Rangers finished the weekend taking 2 of 3 from a Chicago Cubs team that could pry for their chance at a National League Central title. Couple with the weekend results and three of the four AL West opponents losing their series (the Yankees swept the Astros and the Mariners split with the Red Sox), the Rangers sit atop the American League West after four days. Here’s what stood out from an emotional three games at the Palace:

Rangers’ fans are LOUD.

My ears are still ringing from Thursday’s Opening Day ceremony. The crowd throughout the night, Saturday, and even Sunday showcased that baseball belongs in the Metroplex. Players, fans, and even the skipper commented on how loud the atmosphere was on all three days.

“You couldn’t hear much. It was a really loud ballpark—not just the music, but the fans [and] everything. I knew the umpire couldn’t hear a foul tip; [Chad Farichild] had no chance,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. That’s how loud it was. It’s good for these guys to see what they’ve done for Texas baseball. They’ve got the city behind them, they got the support, and it has something to do with us coming back.”

111,778 was the paid attendance at Globe Life Field for the three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Opening Weekend. The 42,130 was the largest attendance for a regular season game in ballpark history and the fourth largest ever.

Jared Walsh rakes at Globe Life Field

When the Rangers signed Jared Walsh to a minor league deal, I suspected he might make the Opening Day roster. Then Nathaniel Lowe went down, and the door opened further. When you look at it on paper, the signing makes a lot of sense, but why is that? In 20 career games at Globe Life Field, Walsh is a .400 hitter with an OPS of 1.211 and 13 extra-base hits. He sees the ball exceptionally well, and much like Corey Seager’s 2020 postseason success, why not bring him in? The only difference is that the Rangers would only allow Walsh to use the same locker as he did with the Angels (I think visiting teams would be uncomfortable with that, too).

The moment is manageable for Wyatt Langford.

Wyatt Langford had a successful Opening Weekend debut in the Major Leagues. In his three games, he went 4 for 12 with a triple and three runs batted in. His defense on Sunday sparkled, and he drew two walks. Yes, there were missed chances, but it felt like the moment was always manageable for Langford.

Full Count Carter remains in effect

Evan Carter’s name disappeared a little throughout March as Wyatt Langford’s name vibrated through the ears of Texas Rangers fans. While Carter was hitless over the weekend, he drew five walks, leading the American League. In fact, only Cody Bellinger and Anthony Volpe drew four or more walks in three games to start the season. The best stat line for Carter this past weekend is that he struck out one time (in his last at-bat Sunday).

In 13 plate appearances, Carter has been four full counts and has drawn walks in all of them (he saw 20 in 16 games last season). In those 13 plate appearances, Carter has been ahead six times, resulting in him walking 5 of the six occurrences. He works the count, sweats the pitcher, and doesn’t chase. Amazingly, the kid hasn’t reached 22 years old yet.

Shades of success from the bullpen

The Rangers bullpen was a story and not a romantic comedy. It became a horror film at times but had a happy ending. Over the weekend, the bullpen showcased their strength until Sunday’s last inning. Before the ninth Sunday vs. Chicago, the Rangers bullpen went 12.1 innings, allowing only one run (the questionable passed ball on Opening Day). With scoreless performances by José Ureña, Josh Sborz, Yerry Rodriguez, Kirby Yates, Daniel Robertson, Jake Latz, and Brock Burke, the bullpen reminded fans how much potential it could have.

Latz, who made his first Opening Day, talked about his experience making the club. “I felt more well-rounded. Coming into this camp was the furthest along I’ve been, both mechanically and with my pitches. I have four pitches, and usually it’s like two I feel really good with, [but] this year I feel comfortable with all four of them. I’m very excited for this year.”

Comeback Kids

All three games over the weekend had one thing in common: the Rangers trailed at some point in the game. The Rangers rallied from a 1-run deficit on Opening Night in the ninth inning, a 2-run deficit on Saturday, and a 3-run deficit on Sunday (despite the loss). Bruce Bochy commented on how little the Rangers returned to win and responded on why that is important for a ball club.

“They call them character builders,” Bochy said. “I go back to last year; we just didn’t do it. After a while, you don’t expect it. Once you do it once, hopefully, you do it a few more times; you expect it. It does bring more lively in the ballgame in the eighth or ninth inning. I don’t think we were lacking it last year, but it certainly helps when you do it in the first game.”

The Rangers will start a three-game series where the 2024 Postseason began, Tropicana Field. The series with the Rays starts on Monday.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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