After a four-game losing streak snapped on Tuesday, the Rangers experienced the MLB equivalent of a sugar rush starting Tuesday. The club came into Tropicana Field and did something no one did in 2020; win a series against the Rays. Once the team fell 1-0 on Monday against a sharp ace in Tyler Glasnow, the Rangers offense went to work with nineteen runs and 12 for 27 with runners in scoring position. Also, the pitching staff was able to work out of jams and preserve each of the three victories (Rays were 5 for 25 with runners in scoring position).
"I just know that fifteen punchouts and one walk on the offensive side isn't going to get it done."
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) April 17, 2021
On Friday, the Rangers fell short to the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2. Texas went four innings without a hit against Jorge López, who entered Friday allowing eleven runs in 8.2 innings. The Rangers did manage two solo home runs, but that was all against López and the bullpen. “I’m not going to make excuses for our guys. We have to be better,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said after the game. “That’s professional baseball; you’re going to have to deal with stuff like that.”
The Orioles entered Friday losing eight of their last ten games, and played two doubleheaders in the week against the Mariners. They’re a team that the Rangers feel like they can beat, but it brings on the old saying that any team can beat anyone on any given day. “You don’t take anyone for granted, everyone is a major league team,” Joey Galo told me Saturday. “We were not laid back, they just played better than us.”
Maybe the Rangers reached their ultimate high after Thursday’s win? “We’re not getting too overzealous,” Woodward told me Friday. “It’s the same approach, we are preparing the same way, and we are not taking anything for granted. That’s something we stay heavily away from.” Woodward pointed out in the three games that there wasn’t an unsustainable outlier or a full-on lucky series of events that propelled the club to victory each of the three nights.
While I’ve been a considerable advocate with the team’s success with runners in scoring position, it withstood the first few weeks in the season. Even in Friday’s loss, the Rangers were one for three with runners in scoring position, despite that one hit not scoring a run. “Yesterday we harped on, just hey we have to go out and play a game of baseball,” Joey Gallo said to me. “We don’t automatically win because we beat the Tampa Bay Rays.”
That's 5 HBPs for Nick Solak.
I remember about a week ago I asked Nick about that.
— Alex Plinck 🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) April 17, 2021
How does this team not get overhyped after a series win? They hold each other accountable for the good and the bad. According to Nick Solak, they stay in check with one another. “In this game, it’s trying to stay as even-keeled as possible, through the ups and downs, and understand that each and every day is a new day,” Nick told me Friday. Woody went back to the process aspect and told me it was about believing in each other and in the process the players are doing on a pitch by pitch basis. Woody finished by saying, “That’s how we are going to win games.” I asked Joey Gallo if there’s any concern if guys need to be held in check. “No one really needs to be in check. Everybody just wants to compete and win games. It’s special.”
There’s a different feeling around the Rangers, from small things like awarding Cowboy hats after victories to the younger and newer guys like Adolis García providing that energy. “I wouldn’t want to pitch to [García],” Nick Solak told me. I will say that the team looks more unified this past week than Spring Training looked, and while the club is feeling good (Despite Friday’s loss), it’s always on to the next. “We’re not riding a high that we know we’re going to fall,” Chris Woodward told me. The Rangers may be more exciting in a positive way in 2021 than we all thought. “We’ve done a really good job so far, the young guys and the I guess you can say veterans, and go out and play everyday and enjoy it,” Joey Gallo said.
Even on a 1/4 night, Charlie Culberson is 8 for his last 16 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI.
Chris Woodward after the game, "He keeps finding a way to not get the hat. I don't know why that keeps happening. He keeps getting overwritten by something that's bigger than him." #StraightUpTX
— Alex Plinck 🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) April 16, 2021
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