A five-run 6th inning sparked a 7-4 win for the Texas Rangers over the San Diego Padres last night. Catcher Robinson Chirinos contributed to the win with two runs driven in.
The Texas Rangers took game one of a three-game set against the San Diego Padres last night. It took a five-run bottom of the 6th inning to overcome an early deficit, but Texas won the game 7-4. The bullpen continued its dominance, pitching four innings of shut out ball. The stoppers last night included Tony Barnette, Jose Leclerc, Chris Martin and Keone Kela.
The bullpen has been phenomenal, as has the top of the Rangers batting order during their run of eight victories in their last nine games. With that said, a man towards the bottom of the order deserves some credit:
One Big Takeaway from Last Night’s Win
Robinson Chirinos has stepped up ever since his position was infiltrated
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas’ well-known utility infielder, made his first every big league start at catcher last Wednesday. He had brief experience as a catcher in the minor leagues; however, not enough to where the Rangers’ primary catcher, Robinson Chirinos, would be too happy to take a seat.
Kiner-Falefa as a catcher is an experiment. The Texas Rangers are doing what they can to keep his productive bat in the lineup, and that means catching him perhaps 2-3 times a week. If he does a good job behind the plate then his reps could increase. If Kiner-Falefa’s reps increase, Chirinos’ will naturally decrease.
While Chirinos probably shouldn’t be overly worried about Kiner-Falefa breathing down his back, he should be somewhat worried. Chrinos’ .204 batting average and .320 OBP compares unfavorably to Kiner-Falefa’s .251 batting average and .328 OBP. The rookie catcher also has 40 strikeouts to the veteran catcher’s 85 whiffs.
The bottom line is hitting earns playing time in Major League Baseball. Luckily for Chirinos, catcher is one of the few positions on the field in which defense can triumph offense.
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Regardless, Chirinos’ job has been infiltrated. How has he reacted? With composure and productivity. Since Kiner-Falefa debuted at catcher on June 20th, Chirinos has improved his batting average 10 points over just three starts. In those three starts, he is 5-for-10 with three runs scored and five runs driven in. He played a crucial role in last night’s comeback with two late-inning RBI.
At the end of the day, Robinson Chirinos has manned the Texas Rangers pitching staff for years. Thus, Manager Jeff Banister trusts him behind the plate more than anyone. It would take a hot Kiner-Falefa bat and a cold Chirinos bat to bump Chirinos to part-time at catcher. But, if competition is what brings the best out of Chirinos, then let it be.
The Texas Rangers will play game two against the San Diego Padres tonight at 7:05 PM CT. Austin Bibens-Dirkx (4.58 ERA) will matchup against Tyson Ross (3.34 ERA). We’ll see who gets the nod at catcher tonight. Whoever it is, let’s up he contributes to a very hot offense.