Texas Rangers and the thin line between winning and losing

Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Rangers and Rays played in a highly anticipated series between the two best teams in the major leagues. When two great teams play, it normally comes down to who makes the fewer mistakes. The result was an 8-3 loss, but there really was a thin line between the Rangers winning and losing this game. A pitch made an inch higher or a grounder fielded cleanly and there might be a different result. Then you combine these little mistakes with the Rangers' inability to ever get anything going on offense and failures from Andrew Heaney to finish innings and that is the game.

Texas Rangers' league leading offense comes up short against Rays pitching

The Rangers came into this game leading the league in several offensive categories including runs scored at 389. The Rays are right behind them at 380. It seemed like it would be an evenly matched game between the two lineups.

This game was anything but. The Rangers whole lineup really struggled as the team only had three hits. The top of the lineup which has been getting everything started saw the top four hitters go 0-14, with six strikeouts and two walks. It was a poor showing. This team prides itself on being tough to get out with two strikes, but tonight they ended up striking out 11 times. The Rangers did make some hard contact, but the ball always found the glove of a Rays outfielder. It was just one of those nights that comes after being shutout on Wednesday night.

The only player who had a good night was Leody Taveras. He hit two home runs, both solo shots. They were absolute blasts. The first was a high majestic home run that traveled 389 feet. The second left the bat at 108.7mph and went 427 feet. That was the highlight offensively in this game. It was Taveras' first multi-home run game of his career.

Andrew Heaney not being able to finish innings

Heaney was good for most of the night except for when there was two outs in an inning. The Rays were 3-8 with two walks against Heaney when there were two outs. Isaac Paredes in the first hit a run-scoring double with two outs. Then in the third Paredes came up again with two outs and two runners on and he did this.

Heaney said this after the game to the Dallas Morning News about that pitch that led to the Paredes home-run,

"But that was not a good pitch. I’ve got all the room in the world to miss, and it just caught too much of the plate. "

Andrew Heaney

Heaney did recover after that and ended up pitching five innings, getting five strikeouts, two walks, and only had three earned runs. In games like this little things like walks and errors could be the difference in the game. In this game Marcus Semien's error on a groundball led to the first inning run and a walk in the third inning led to the three-run home run.

The Rays would end up scoring four more runs all off of Spencer Howard, who was making his season debut. Howard after being tried out in the rotation in 2021 and 2022 is now being given a shot in the bullpen. He impressed in his two rehab outings, but he looked like the same guy tonight who couldn't throw strikes and get batters out in 2021 and 2022. Tonight he pitched 1/3 of an inning, giving up four hits, four runs, and one walk. Any more outings like that and his stay in the majors might be more like a short vacation.

Texas with the loss falls to 40-22. They have lost two games in a row for the first time since May 3rd and 5th when they lost to Arizona at home and then the Angels on the road. They maintain their five game lead as Houston lost 10-9 in 14 innings on Friday night.

Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays Game 2 Preview

Nathan Eovaldi, the ace of this rotation, will take the mound looking to keep this losing streak at two. Eovaldi has been the road warrior for the Rangers lately. Tomorrow's start will be five of his last seven that have been on the road. In the previous four starts, he has picked up four wins, has only allowed one run, and has pitched 30 2/3 innings. In his career Eovaldi is 3-5 with a 4.92 ERA at Tropicana Field. Eovaldi does have 66 strikeouts to just 12 walks in those 12 appearances he has made in that stadium.

Taj Bradley will be starting for the Rays. Bradley is another product of the Rays farm system. He was brought up on April 18th and made three starts before being sent back to Durham. Then was brought back up on May 18th and has been with the Rays ever since. In his seven starts he is 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA. He last pitched on June 4th against the Red Sox. In that game he pitched five innings, allowing two runs, striking out six and walking three.

The Rangers should have the advantage on the mound. Bradley is talented, but inexperienced. Eovaldi is talented and experienced. It is an afternoon game on Saturday as they will play at 3:10pm at Tropicana Field. It will be broadcast locally by Bally Sports Southwest.