Is this becoming old hat? Do people even use the expression “old hat” anymore? The Rangers’ 8-4 win over the Phillies Thursday afternoon, which capped a three-game sweep, an 8-0 homestand, and extended their win streak to a major-league best nine games, seemed inevitable. Of course it wasn’t, but when the Rangers rallied for five runs in the fifth and to overcome a 2-0 deficit it felt more like a matter of when, not if. Perhaps that’s the residual affect of a win streak and an ultra confident clubhouse. Heck, the Rangers were confident and never showed any panic during their horrible April. There was some frustration certainly, especially from veterans such as Mike Napoli, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez, who knew they were not producing like they have in the past. But they always genuinely sounded as if it was only a matter of time before things starting clicking.
Not if, but when.
Here’s Revolution 9 edition of the Rangers Reaction:
1. Nine is Not Enough: The Rangers have been getting production throughout their lineup during the winning streak. Seven players have at least four RBIs in the stretch and 11 players have driven in a run.
“I think that’s what this team is about,” said catcher Robinson Chirinos, who has four RBIs in the stretch. “Everyday it’s somebody different, it can be the offense, it can be the bullpen, it can be the starting pitching. I think these last nine games, we’ve been putting everything together. It’s good to see that. Hopefully we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing here at home. Just win every pitch, every inning and have fun in the field.”
Sounds easy enough.
Rangers RBIs during their nine-game win streak:
2. Walk this way: Much of the consternation surrounding the Rangers struggles in April centered around too many walks by the pitching staff and not enough walks taken by the Rangers’ hitters. For the first time in ’17 Rangers pitchers didn’t allow a walk. Rangers hitters collected seven. The numbers don’t lie. During the nine-game win streak Rangers hitters have taken 38 walks while Rangers pitchers have allowed only 13.
In April, Rangers pitchers issued 90 walks, sixth most in the majors. In May, they’ve allowed 23, the fourth fewest. Conversely (if that’s the word I’m looking for, and frankly I don’t care at this point), Rangers hitters had 79 walks in 25 games in April (15th in majors) and have 65 and counting in 17 games in May.
You do the math.
3. Rua’s role — Some were wondering what kind of playing time Ryan Rua was going to get with Jared Hoying replacing Carlos Gomez in center field, at least in the short term. Whatever the long-term role turns into Rua made his presence known Thursday. He was 2 for 2 with two walks and a three-run homer in the fifth.
“Whether I’m playing or not, it’s the same routine every day,” said Rua, who started his 17th game Thursday and 12th at first base. “Whether it’s defensively, one day at first base, one day in the outfield. Offensively, same thing. Same thing in the cage, in the weight room; preparing like you’re going to play every day.”
4. Perez pounding — Martin Perez wasn’t just talking. When he declared several weeks ago that he was going to cut down on the walks, he meant it. He issues no walks and matched a career-high with eight strikeouts in seven innings Thursday to earn his first win since April 9. It’s his longest outing in nine starts. Perez has allowed just two walks (one intentional) in his past three starts (19 1/3 innings) after walking four (one intentional) in a loss to the Angels on April 29.
“He’s throwing more strikes, not only with his fastball, but his changeup, his breaking ball, he’s using his curveball more the last three or four outings,” Chirinos said. “It’s good to see that. He’s working really hard in the bullpen and it’s starting to show in the games. Today he was fluid. Sometimes he has that one inning, it’s long ... today, it was not that case.”
5. About that Bush appearance — Manager Jeff Banister wasn’t messing around. He sent Jeremy Jeffress to the mound to close out Thursday’s game with a six-run lead, but three hits, including a double and a two-run homer later, the lead was down to four. Banister had closer Matt Bush gettinge hot in the bullpen after the homer. A double down the left-field line by Ty Kelly was enough for Banister. Bush entered and retired the next two batters to end the game. Why use your closer?
“We wanted to finish the game,” Banister said, sounding a tad annoyed at the situation, the question or maybe both. “That was a very simple thought process. I was not going to let another hitter get on. We’re going to put our best out there, finish this game and move on. Jeremy didn’t have his best stuff. We had Matt hot, and I wasn’t going to wait for another one.”