The Rangers have the second-best record in baseball for several reasons, but one of them is their ability to minimize losing streaks. They have only lost three games in a row on one occasion this season. It was the three-game sweep in Cincinnati followed up with the loss to the Yankees in game one of that series from April 24th through April 27th. They have won as many as three games in a row eight times. Today, they were again able to stay away from a three-game losing streak. Corey Seager put on a show at the plate and Nathan Eovaldi made critical pitches when it mattered to keep Tampa from tying the game or taking the lead. It took an entire team effort to win this game.
Career-day for Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager
In the first game of this series the Rangers made some hard contact, but most of it was tracked down and caught by Tampa's athletic outfielders. In Saturday's game the Rangers had a more patient approach against Taj Bradley. They drew walks early and often and when they got runners on base they came through with key hits.
Jonah Heim scored the first run on a throwing error on second baseman Vidal Brujan. Heim ran through the stop sign from third base coach Tony Beasley and beat the throw to the plate. The Rangers then loaded the bases with just one out for Corey Seager. Against the Rays, scoring runs in bunches is required. One run that was scored on an error in this inning was not going to cut it. Seager stepped up to the plate and came through when he laced a double at 109.4 mph into the right field corner that scored Travis Jankowski and Leody Taveras. Semien was thrown out at home on the play. The Rangers had their crooked number and were up 3-0.
Seager then stepped back up to the plate in the fourth with the score now 4-0 after an Ezequiel Duran RBI-double. Taj Bradley had allowed four runs and walked four and was then replaced by Jalen Beeks. Seager gave Beeks a very rude welcome.
This increased the Rangers' lead to 6-0 and gave Seager four RBIs in the game. He would come up two more times and get two singles. His single in the sixth led to the two-run ground rule double off the bat of Adolis Garcia that increased the lead to 8-4.
Corey Seager, All Star Shortstop?
Seager finished the game 5-5, with four RBI's, two runs scored, and also a great defensive play in the second inning. It was a showcase game for Seager, who continues to make a strong case for the All-Star game despite missing a month with a hamstring injury. Right now he is hitting .352 with a 1.020 OPS, with seven home runs and 33 RBI's.
Despite having 154 fewer at-bats than Bo Bichette he is only 10 RBI's behind him. He is seven home runs off Bichette's total. He would be leading all shortstops in batting average, on-base, and slugging percentage if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Really it will come down to how many shortstops get taken. Bo Bichette or Wander Franco are the likely shortstops that get voted in. Then it is down to whichever of the top two does not get voted in, plus Seager, Anthony Volpe, and Carlos Correa for the reserve shortstop position. Seager took a big step forward in that pursuit today with his game against the Rays.
Texas Rangers Nathan Eovaldi survives walking the tightrope
Eovaldi took the mound for the first time since news came out about deGrom being out for the rest of the season due to elbow surgery. He pitched like the ace of the team throughout May. The thought had been that eventually deGrom would come back and Eovaldi would slide back to being the number 2 pitcher. That is not going to happen. Eovaldi had the interim tag removed and is now the team ace for the rest of 2023.
Tampa is such a hard team to pitch against. Their lineup is not as good as the Rangers, but it is very disciplined. It is so hard to get them to chase a pitch outside of the strike zone. When they swing they rarely miss. Eovaldi threw 102 pitches in the game and the Rays whiffed on just nine of those pitches. They make pitchers work hard physically and mentally every single at-bat. Their approach led to Eovaldi walking three batters and allowing four runs to score. After catcher Francisco Mejia hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to make the score 6-4 the game got tight.
Eovaldi had to walk a scary tightrope from the third to the fifth inning. The biggest at-bat of the game came in the fifth inning against Isaac Paredes. There were two runners on with two outs and the score was 6-4. Paredes hit two home runs and had six RBIs in the first game of the series. He had a shot for a game-tying hit or a go-ahead home run in this situation. Instead, Eovaldi struck him out swinging on the fifth pitch of the at-bat with an 87mph splitter at the bottom of the zone.
The Rangers added two more runs in the 6th inning. Eovaldi was removed in the seventh with two runners on as he went past 100 pitches. Josh Sborz put out the fire in the seventh without allowing any runs. From there Sborz and Will Smith closed out the game and the Rangers' first win of the series.
Eovaldi did not have his A-plus stuff on Saturday, but he still pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs, with six strikeouts, and the three walks mentioned earlier. He pitched as long as he could go and picked up his fourth win of his career at Tropicana Field. Eovaldi is now 9-2 on the season with a 2.49 ERA. He continues to do what aces do and that is to end losing streaks. He has helped the Rangers win a game after a loss four times so far this season.
The Rangers with the win improved to 41-22 on the season and remain five games up on the second-place Houston Astros.
Preview of the Final game of this series.
The finale of this series is Sunday afternoon. It will be a matchup of left-handers. Martin Perez starts for the Rangers and early Cy Young award contender Shane McClanahan will be starting for the Rays.
Martin Perez last started on Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. He went seven innings in that start giving up no runs, with five strikeouts, and one walk. He did not pick up the win as Grant Anderson blew the lead in the eighth inning. The Rangers still won on the Nathaniel Lowe walkoff single. Perez last started against Tampa on September 16th of last season. He picked up a win that day by pitching 5 1/3 innings, and allowing just three runs. In his career. Perez has a 6.95 ERA at Tropicana Field in eight starts.
Shane Mclanahan is 9-1 on the season with a 2.02 ERA. He picked up his ninth win his last time out against the Boston Red Sox. He pitched six innings, giving up one run, with five strikeouts, and two walks. This will be Mclanahan's first start of his career against the Rangers.
It is an early game time on Sunday. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:40pm and will be broadcast locally by Bally Sports Southwest.