Tuesday night's game between Texas and Detroit might become one of those games that fans talk about at the end of the season as a major turning point. The Rangers were on a three game losing streak coming into the game. They had slept-walked through Monday night's game and lost 7-2 against a Tigers team that lost their starting pitcher to injury and then lost the reliever who came in for the injured starter to an injury of his own. That was all in the first two innings. The Rangers still lost that game 7-2.
Tuesday night for much of the game it was 2-0 and the offense still was looking sluggish and just could not get anything going. Martin Perez was really good. He ended up with a quality start as he went six innings, giving up just two runs. The offense in the first five innings could not put any runs on the board. They had runners on each of the first five innings but ended up stranding five runners and were 0-3 with runners in scoring position(RISP). It was a continuation of the 0-10 they went with RISP on Monday night.
Bruce Bochy and his Unconventional Managing of the Sixth Inning
Bochy as we all know is a manager with 25 plus years of experience in that chair and has won three World Series. In the sixth inning the momentum started to turn in the Rangers' favor. Lowe led off with a walk, Garcia was hit by a pitch, and then Lowe scored on a sacrifice fly from Robbie Grossman. Bochy had decided to give Josh Jung and Leody Taveras the day off by not including them in the starting lineup. Travis Jankowski was inserted for Taveras and Josh Smith started at third in place of Jung.
The Tigers changed pitchers after the Grossman sacrifice fly and brought in lefty Chasen Shreve. Bochy then decided to insert his starters. He first went with Jung in place of Jankowski. Jung had a long eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in a line drive into right field that scored the tying run. Duran followed with a weak infield single. Then Bochy made another move this time inserting Taveras in place of Josh Smith. Taveras hit a Shreve splitter into left field that brought Jung home and gave the Rangers the lead.
It was a brilliant touch for Bochy. Not every manager would have done that. They would have saved their bullets for the eighth or ninth innings rather than try to grab the game in the sixth. He knew that there are times when the result of the game is hanging in the balance and if the team does not take advantage, there might not be another opportunity. The Rangers finished that inning by going 2-4 with RISP. They were up 3-2 and it looked like they would have a shot to steal this win from Detroit.
The at-bat of the season for the Texas Rangers
Josh Sborz pitched two innings but did make a mistake when he hung a slider to Spencer Torkelson who hit it out and tied the game. The game entered the bottom of the eighth tied. Duran stepped up after a Jung strikeout. He was facing righty Brendan White. Duran and White ended up having a 12-pitch battle. It included Duran fouling off six two-strike pitches. White was attacking primarily on the inside corner and off the plate inside as well. Duran was fouling off every pitch he had. He was fouling off fastballs, sliders, and sweepers. Then on pitch 12, Duran got his pitch, a hanging sweeper on the inside corner, but the middle of the zone.
I know this may be recency bias, but to me that is the at-bat of the season. It is about the result of the at-bat, how many pitches Duran fought off, and the timing as well. The Rangers would end up scoring five more runs, but this Duran home run will be remembered as the hit that gave them the lead. It is just another moment from this young Rangers phenom who at 24 is coming into his own as a baseball player and starting to realize his potential.
The Rangers ended up winning 8-3. The floodgates opened up after the Duran home run. Corey Seager had an RBI-double, Nathaniel Lowe an RBI single, and Garcia wrapped it all up with a two-run home run. The Rangers improved to 48-31 with the win and are now up five games on the Angels, and six games up on the Astros.
Texas Rangers vs Detroit Tigers Wednesday Night Preview
These two teams will meet again on Wednesday night in game three of this series. It will be Dane Dunning for the Rangers and Joey Wentz for the Tigers.
Dunning will be making his 10th start of the season. He last pitched on Friday night against the New York Yankees. He went seven innings in that start, giving up just two runs, with two strikeouts, and two walks. It was the game the Rangers won 4-2 in extra innings. Dunnings is 6-1 on the season with a 2.76 ERA.
Wentz has not been as succesful. He has picked up the loss in five of his last seven starts. His last start on the road he pitched was against Minnesota. In that game he had nine strikeouts to just one walk, and he only gave up two runs. He did pitch against Texas during the Rangers trip to Detroit at the end of May. He went 4 1/3 innings in that game, only allowing one run, with five strikeouts and one walk. The Tigers got the win in that game. Do not be fooled by his record or his 6.72 ERA. He can pitch it and if the Rangers do not execute they can lose this game.
Game time tonight is 7:05pm and it will be broadcast locally by Bally Sports Southwest.