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What has turned the corner for the Rangers in the past two weeks?

Photo: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers

What has turned the corner for the Rangers in the past two weeks?

On April 20th, the Rangers fell to 2-9, their second-worst start in franchise history. Nothing worked, including no timely hitting, starters weren’t going deep, and the bullpen coughed up runs like allergy season. A few turned to the April 21st game where Taylor Hearn surrendered five runs in the first inning to the Seattle Mariners, but the Rangers stormed back to win 8-6 as the turning point. Since then, Texas has won eight of thirteen with two winning streaks of three or more games. So what exactly turned around this team from two weeks ago?

The pitching is the primary factor. In the last fifteen days, the Rangers pitching posted an ERA of 2.69 (fifth in MLB) while oppositions are hitting (.187), second in MLB. If there’s one thing in the stretch that Rangers’ pitching struggled with is walks, but they haven’t hurt the club as much. On Wednesday, as Joe Barlow said about the difference with the bullpen, they were timid, not trusting their stuff, and second-guessing their pitches. Now, what was a dead last-ranked bullpen in baseball moves to the middle of the pack. There are still kinks to work out, but guys like Matt Moore, John King, Brock Burke, Joe Barlow, and others are pitching with authority.

The Rangers starting pitching is going somewhat deeper into games. There are a few hiccups here and there, but the four main starters (Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, Glenn Otto, and Martín Pérez) are going deeper into games than earlier in the year, therefore, creating less work on the bullpen. Pérez has gone seven innings in back-to-back starts. With Dane Dunning’s 7.2 inning performance last Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, Texas has seen their traditional starters go seven innings or more in three of the previous four games in which the Rangers did not use an opener. To add to Martín’s dominance, in a three-start span, he’s pitched the second-most innings (20) with the lowest ERA (0.45) and tied for the lowest opponent batting average (.123).

On the other side, the offense hasn’t entirely revved up in that span. The Rangers scored fifty-one runs in the last two weeks (seventeenth in MLB during that frame) with the third-lowest batting average in MLB. Even in the five losses during the thirteen-game stretch, the Rangers’ losses have been by a combined eleven runs with a plus-run differential of 13. Brad Miller talked after the game Wednesday about how the offense feels like it’s going to get going, though the pitching is carrying the Rangers. What is holding the Rangers’ offense is how well the pinch hitters are responding, leading MLB with most pinch hits, pinch-hit extra-base hits, and pinch-hit RBIs.

Texas gets a tough matchup on the road over the weekend. The Yankees’ eleven-game winning streak snapped with a loss against the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday. It’s a premier hitters park (more so than Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia), but it may glow the eyes of left-handers like Miller, Nathaniel Lowe, Corey Seager, and others. On the other hand, one win by Texas in the series cements a winning road trip in Philadelphia and New York. Finally, a building block the team needs.

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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