The Rangers won last night in walk-off fashion against the Royals to extend their winning streak to three. It was a roller coaster of a game. Jacob deGrom started the game, Corey Seager left the game, Jose Leclerc blew the game, and Jonah Heim won the game. It is a game that a team can call back when they are in similar situations throughout this season. The Rangers could have been deflated once Seager hobbled off the field in the sixth inning. They could have given up when Leclerc gave up the lead in the ninth. They did not though, they continued playing through each of those setbacks. Lets look back at how the Rangers were able to win this game.
Jacob deGrom's Third Start
deGrom made his third start last night and as he continues to build up he continues to go deeper into games. Last night he went seven innings, had nine strikeouts, and zero walks. He did give up seven hits and two runs. He was not helped by his outfield defense last night. He pitched around those mistakes and kept the Royals to just a single run in the third and fourth innings.
He did keep it together though and got strikeouts when he needed it. His start ended with Hunter Dozier. The score was 3-2 and the tying run in the form of Nate Eaton was on third base. Mike Maddux came out to visit him to see what he had left. deGrom said that he was good to go. He proceeded to strike out Dozier on four pitches, 3 sliders and that was it. He was done for the night after 7 innings and had thrown 98 pitches and 68 for strikes.
The Royals made contact, but outside of Bobby Witt Jr and Franmil Reyes it was mostly weak contact. The Royals only got multiple baserunners in an inning against deGrom in the third and fourth inning and they scored one run in each inning. deGrom bounced back from those innings and fired 3 scoreless innings. deGrom left in position to get the win with the score 3-2.
It was a very weird night for the offense. Jordan Lyles was the starter for the Royals and somehow he pitched into the seventh inning and only gave up four runs. It felt like at times the Rangers should have scored more.
The best opportunity for a real big inning was the 3rd inning. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager led off the inning with singles. Nathaniel Lowe then doubled in Semien and unlike last night Seager was held at third. Adolis Garcia then hit a sac fly to increase the lead to 3-1. Josh Jung then singled and Lowe advanced to third. Runners on the corner with Heim coming up. Lyles on the second pitch induced a double play groundball to end the rally.
Lyles then cruised through the fourth. In the fifth Corey Seager hit what should have been a one-out triple down the left field line where there was no left fielder. He pulled up with a hamstring injury to second base. If you want to read more about the injury and what it means then read this article by our own West Jones. The Rangers left Josh Smith who had come in for Seager on second.
The Rangers tacked on a run in the seventh when Semien doubled in Brad Miller. That gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead and that is what the score would be as the late inning bullpen options came in to try and close the game and give deGrom his second win of the season.
It was a good and bad night for the bullpen. Good in that they got the win and bad in that they blew the two-run lead and had to win the game in extra innings. Everything was setup for an easy night, but it was far from that.
Jonathan Hernandez was the first one called upon. He promptly went single, walk, single and that cut the lead to 4-3. Bochy quickly went out to get him and brought in Will Smith to hold the lead. Smith was so good in getting Vinnie Pasquantino to fly out. He then struck out Michael Massey and Nate Eaton to end the inning.
Smith started the 9th and gave up a single to Kyle Isbel. Then it was time for Leclerc. It was not a great night for Leclerc. He walked Nicky Lopez, a .150 hitter. If he gets Lopez he probably closes it out, but control issues are part of the Leclerc experience. That led the Royals to be able to tie the game with a fly out that advanced Isbel to third and then a single from MJ Melendez to tie the game. Leclerc held the tie after inducing a double-play grounder to end the inning.
Aroldis Chapman went right through the Rangers three hitters in the 9th to send the game to extra innings tied 4-4.
Cole Ragans came on in relief of Leclerc with one out in the 10th. Ragans came on with runners on first and third. He got both batters to fly out. Due to the Manfred man the Royals scored a run to go ahead 5-4.
The Rangers struggled in extra innings games last season going 6-9. In many of those losses, they failed to even move the Manfred man from second to third. Last night Josh Smith did what you are supposed to do and put the ball in the air to deep right field. That allowed Semien to move to third. A popout from Lowe brought Garcia to the plate and he hit a ground ball single through the middle to score Semien and tie the game with two outs. Josh Jung then worked a walk on six pitches. Finally, Jonah Heim hit a massive walk-off home run on the third pitch to win the game for the Rangers 8-5.
The Rangers are now 7-4 and sit in first place in the AL West. This is the best start to the season for Texas since 2013.
They walked it off in home run fashion, which is something they haven't done yet this year, and haven't done since the middle of last season.
Preview of Tonight's Game
Tonight is the finale of the three-game series and the Rangers will be going for their second series sweep of the year. It will be Nathan Eovaldi against Brad Keller.
Eovaldi pitched well in a 2-0 loss against the Cubs last Friday. The offense just failed to put up any runs. Eovaldi did pitch into the sixth and had six strikeouts to one walk. He did take the loss, but was still very good. He will try to build on that with his start tonight.
Keller is coming off his first win of the season last week against the Giants. He pitched 5.2 innings, gave up one run, had three strikeouts and three walks.
Game time tonight is 7:05pm and it will be aired on Bally Sports Southwest.