Prior to today the defense had been above average. Josh Jung has been steady and able to make the outstanding play at 3b, Adolis Garcia has held down both center and right field when put there, Nathaniel Lowe has been improved at 1b, and Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith have played mistake free in left field. Today though defense was poor across the board and it led to a 10-3 loss against the Cubs in game two of this series.
Five errors is what the Rangers ended up with. Corey Seager had two throwing errors, Marcus Semien bobbled a ground ball, Jonah Heim threw a ball into center field trying to throw out a runner at second, and Adolis Garcia had a throwing error as well. Garcia could have had a second error when he could not get to a ball in time and let it drop in front of him.
Each of these errors forced Martin Perez and the bullpen to throw more pitches and gave the Cubs more opportunities to score runs. The Cubs as they have in both games of this series took advantage of the Rangers' mistakes.
The first run came after a Corey Seager throwing error. The fourth and fifth runs came after a Corey Seager throwing error. The 10th run came after an Adolis Garcia throwing error. That doesn't take into account the poor play in right field by Robbie Grossman.
Robbie Grossman has been playing right field since Opening Day due to the absence of Leody Taveras. Grossman though is very slow of foot, has below-average arm strength, and does not take good routes to balls causing some to drop or go by him. In the Phillies series, he did enough with the bat to allow fans to ignore the poor defensive efforts he was giving.
He is currently in a 1-18 stretch and has only reached base once via walk during this period. If he is not hitting the poor play in right field looks even worse . After today's game, it will be interesting to see if Bochy goes to a more speed and defense lineup and puts Bubba Thompson in center, start Garcia in right field, and then move Grossman to left for tomorrow's game. The good news is that Taveras might be back as soon as Monday night.
Martin Perez and the Bullpen
The Rangers did give up 10 runs, not all of those are the fault of the defense. Martin Perez made his second start of the season. He went five innings in this game, was charged with two earned runs, had five strikeouts, and no walks today.
Perez is the one starter on this staff that is super reliant on having a strong defense behind him. He has to rely on getting ground balls, weak fly balls, and hope to strike out a handful of batters. Today the defense failed him, yet he left with the score 3-1. His biggest mistake was hanging a cutter in the middle of the zone to third baseman Patrick Wisdom who promptly hit it out to the bleachers in left field.
Bochy decided to turn to the bullpen to start the sixth. He brought in Ian Kennedy who was trying to continue the bullpen's 23.2 scoreless streak. Kennedy got a strikeout and then gave up back-to-back singles to Trey Mancini and Wisdom. The Cubs pinch hit Eric Hosmer and that is when Bochy went to Brock Burke to get the left-hander out. The infield was brought in and Hosmer bounced it through the hole to end the scoreless streak and increase the lead to 5-1.
Taylor Hearns would then follow up Burke in the seventh. He would proceed to give up another four runs and would not be able to finish the eighth. Dunning got out of the eighth but not before giving up a run of his own to make the score 10-2. The bullpen came in with two runs allowed this season and exited the game with seven runs allowed in this game, but only five were earned runs.
We noted yesterday that the offense is in a funk these last five games. Now we can extend that to six games as they are now 2-4 in the last six games and have scored fewer than three runs in five of the games. It was noted that in these five games that nearly 50% of the innings the Rangers played had ended with only three players coming up to the plate.
Today that was better as the Rangers reached base more often. The Rangers as a team had seven hits today and six walks. They easily could have had many more runs today. They had multiple guys on base in the first three innings against Cubs starter Justin Steele. Each of those innings saw two runners on base with only one out.
In the first and second the Rangers failed to capitalize. In the third Jung had an RBI single, but Grossman and Garver failed to add to that run total. They ended up with one run in those first three innings, when they had opportunities to jump out to an early inning lead. Bochy and the coaching staff recognize this as they say that the team is just struggling to get the big hit. The big improvement today is only three innings ended up being a 3 up and 3 down inning.
The finale of the three game series is tomorrow afternoon at 1:20pm. It will be Jon Gray going up against Jameson Taillon. It will be a rematch of the first game of the doubleheader on October 4th when Taillon started for the Yankees. Gray last pitched on Monday night against the Orioles and went 6.1 innings, with seven strikeouts, and gave up two runs on solo home runs to Jorge Mateo and Gunnar Henderson. The Rangers lost that game 2-0.
Jameson Taillon was signed in the offseason after pitching last season for the Yankees. He is coming off a debut start against the Brewers last Sunday where he pitched four innings and gave up three runs, with two strikeouts and one walk. The Cubs would lose that game 9-5.
The Rangers will be looking to stop this losing streak at two and go back above .500 as they will be coming back home for a homestand that will start with a series against the Kansas City Royals.
Game time is 1:20pm on Easter Sunday afternoon and the game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest.