Coming into play on Tuesday, it’s fair to say that the Rangers were hot.
Texas had won their first four games since returning from the All-Star Break last Friday and looked to make it five on Tuesday when they took on the Rays in the second of a three-game series.
It’s always nice to win the first game of a series and then have your ace on the mound the next day, and that’s exactly what the Rangers had with Nathan Eovaldi making his first start since pitching in the All-Star Game one week ago today.
Eovaldi’s day would come to a close after six shutout innings of baseball that kept the Rangers in front 1-0. The command for Eovaldi was a little off, which caused him to throw 93 pitches in six innings but still a good day for Eovaldi as he would exit with a line of 6 innings pitched 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.
After the game, Eovaldi said:
“Felt really good, made a few mechanical adjustments, things like that; I felt like my offspeed was a lot better tonight; I made the big pitches when I needed to tonight.”
Marcus Semien started the scoring in the 3rd inning with his second home run of the homestand, which sailed into the left-field seats.
For Semien, it was his 13th home run of the season and 199th of his career, and for the Rangers, it was a lead, something that they did not have until the final pitch of last night’s game.
After the game, when speaking about Semien, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said:
“He’s a tremendous player, you start with that, I think, look at the season, when he’s going, we go, such a good hitter too, and we’re all gonna have our little moments, but at the end of the day it’s gonna be a great year for him.”
With the score still standing at 1-0 in the bottom of the 6th, Travis Jankowski laced an RBI double down the right-field line to score Nathaniel Lowe and give the Rangers a huge insurance run. For Jankowski, that double was his 300th career hit and pushed his batting average on the season to .333
Interestingly enough, Jose Leclerc would be first out of the bullpen to pitch the 7th despite throwing an inning last night. Things would not go well for Leclerc as he would give up an RBI double to Rays’ catcher Francisco Mejía and leave the game recording just one out and leaving runners on first and second for Grant Anderson, who was the next Texas pitcher.
Anderson has gotten the Rangers out of several big jams this year, and he did it again tonight, inducing a huge 4-6-3 double play to keep the Rangers in front after 7.
The big swing of the night came in the bottom of the 7th right after that double play when Corey Seager shot a three-run home run to dead center field to give Texas 3 huge insurance runs and put the Rangers up 5-1.
Despite striking out three times on the night, Seger could brush it off and have that big swing. Bruce Bochy said:
“He’s such a pro, and he’s such a good hitter, you’re not gonna see that very often [3 strikeouts], but the good ones, they don’t think about the previous at-bats.”
With Texas up 5-3 heading to the 9th, Will Smith would come on and earn his 17th save of the season to make him 17-19 in save opportunities this year.
After the game, when talking about Smith, Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi said:
“He’s been outstanding any time he’s out there on the mound, I think he’s had one or two hiccups this season, and he’s bounced right back from that to be able to make those adjustments; he’s a true veteran guy.”
The Rangers would take down the Rays by a score of 5-3 to win the series with Tampa Bay and win their fifth game in a row since returning from the All-Star Break.
For this Rangers team to have won their first five games of the second half after slumping into the break is huge, and it shows that this team is right where it needs to be heading to the stretch run.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Rangers will go for the series sweep against the Rays and a chance to win their sixth game in a row. Jon Gray will get the ball for Texas as he looks to win his second start back from the break.