The Rangers lost today 2-0 in their first road game of the season. They have now lost three of the last four games. In each of those losses they have scored two or fewer runs and have been shut out twice in that stretch as well. Yet the pitching staff as a whole continues to put zeroes up on the board. Today the bullpen added to their scoreless streak with another 3.1 scoreless innings.
Nathan Eovaldi and the Bullpen
Nathan Eovaldi made his second start of the season. He pitched better today than in his first start. He was dominating with his fastball, splitter, and cutter. His fastball averaged 95mph a tick down from where he was in his first start, but he was still very effective. He struck out six in his 5.2 innings and only walked one batter. He only ran into trouble twice and the Cubs scored runs both times.
In the fourth inning he gave up a leadoff single to Nico Hoerner. Hoerner was promptly erased on a fielders' choice groundout by Dansby Swanson. Swanson then stole second and scored off an RBI single by Cody Bellinger to make the score 1-0.
In the sixth inning Tucker Barnhart and Hoerner led off the inning with singles. Then Eovaldi coaxed a double-play groundball off the bat of Swanson. Eovaldi was one out away from ending the inning with Ian Happ coming up when this happened.
It was ruled a double by the scorekeeper, but very easily could have been an error on Garcia. The drop led to another run and the end of the day for Eovaldi. That made the score 2-0 and that is what the final score would end up being.
Eovaldi was solid in his 5.1 innings today. The bullpen was Cole Ragans and Ian Kennedy for 3.1 innings. Ragans had three strikeouts and one walk in his 1.1 innings. Kennedy pitched a scoreless ninth. That kept the Cubs from being able to add to the lead. The offense failed to provide any run support this afternoon.
The offense since last Saturday in the 16-3 shellacking of the Phillies has struggled to string together hits and score runs. Today that trend continued as the Rangers threatened to put runs on the board, but went 0-5 with runners in scoring position. They also since Sunday night have had 21 innings end with only three hitters coming to the plate. That is 21 out of 43 innings they have played in those five games.
They had an run scoring opportunity in the first inning. Corey Seager walked and Nathaniel Lowe hit an opposite field single to put a runner in scoring position. Garcia though lined out to center and Josh Jung struck out to end the inning.
They couldn't produce another opportunity till the sixth inning. It was a weird rally as they loaded the bases via a hit by pitch of Josh Smith, walk to Corey Seager, and walk to Garcia. That brought Jung up to the plate in a 2-0 game with the bases loaded. Marcus Stroman was at the end of his day and Josh Jung could not take advantage. He weakly grounded out to end the inning. Seager had a two out double in the eight inning, but it also led to nothing after a Lowe strikeout.
The Rangers had three hits in 29 at-bats against Cubs pitching today. They also had 11 strikeouts to three walks. An abysmal showing from a good lineup.
The team is not playing complimentary baseball right now. The pitching staff is consistently doing their job. The bullpen is holding teams from scoring, and the starting rotation is throwing quality innings. The offense though is not holding up their end of the rope. After scoring 27 runs in the first two games, they have scored nine runs in the last five games.
The top of the lineup has to get this lineup going. Semien, Seager, Lowe, and Garcia have combined for three home runs in the first seven games. Semien is now in the midst of a 1-15 slump since the start of the Orioles series. For this offense to be successful Semien has to be setting the table, getting on base, and making things happen there to help give players like Seager and Lowe the chance to drive him in.
Semien so far this season is seeing less fastballs and more breaking balls. Right now he is 2-10 against breaking balls with two singles and four strikeouts. Adjustments will need to be made if pitchers are changing how they attack him.
The offense in the first two games did a great job passing the baton, right now it seems like the baton is getting dropped or the race is not even getting started. These good pitching performances from Jon Gray on Monday and Nathan Eovaldi were both wasted in 2-0 losses.
The Cubs and Rangers will play again tomorrow afternoon in the second game of this three game series in Chicago. It will be Martin Perez going up against Justin Steele. Perez is coming off that win against the Phillies last Sunday night, where he pitched into the sixth inning only giving up one run. Steele is coming off a start against the Brewers that saw him go six innings, with no runs, eight strikeouts, and one walk. It is set up to be another pitchers' duel tomorrow at Wrigley Field.
Game time tomorrow afternoon is 3:05pm and it will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.