The longest hitting-streak in MLB belongs to Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus.
The veteran infielder tripled off the right-centerfield wall in the first inning off Orioles starter Yefry Ramirez to push the streak to 16 games. That’s the longest active streak in the majors this season and ties his career high. This is the third time he’s had a hitting streak of this length in his career.
If Andrus can get a hit in each of Texas’ games against Seattle to start next week he’ll tie Cleveland’s Michael Brantley for the longest streak in the American League this season.
Hits in each game of the Mariners series will also give Andrus the longest hitting streak at Globe Life Park, eclipsing Nelson Cruz’s 21-game streak in 2010.
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While the streak is great for recognition across the league, it’s a sign that Andrus could be returning to the player he was in 2017. Less we forget that he hit .297 with a career-high 20 homers, a career-high 44 doubles, and 25 stolen bases a season ago with a career-best .808 OPS (on-base + slugging percentage).
Who knows what would have been this season had he not missed over two months with a fracture in his right elbow. You may recall he did not strike out a single time through his first 30 plate appearances this season.
Rough outing for newest Rangers addition
If Drew Hutchinson’s first pitch as a Ranger was an indication of how his debut with the organization would go, he would have been wise to have stopped right then and there.
The 27-year-old right-handed free agent, who agreed to terms with the club late Saturday, gave up a first-pitch single to Baltimore’s Jace Peterson to begin the game; Peterson would score on a Mark Trumbo single. It could have been worse but Hutchinson was aided in the inning by a terrific bare-handed scoop and throw by third baseman Jurickson Profar and then your everyday 8-2-4-5-3 put out.
Then the second inning came and he gave up two walks - his third free base to that point - before giving up a three-run homer to Austin Wynns.
Baltimore wasn’t through tagging Hutchinson as Trumbo elevated a low breaking ball into the left field seats to give Baltimore a 6-5 lead.
Hutchinson’s final line read three innings pitched, six hits, six earned runs, three walks and two home runs.
“That was obviously a challenge,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “First time with this club, first time we were getting an opportunity to see him in our uniform. He pitched from behind, had some elevated pitches that got hit, had some long counts, a lack of two-strike putaways, which really got him in trouble. We’ve seen better stuff and expect that... this is not indicative of what we’ve seen in the past.”
Banister said that he would get through today before deciding what the future would hold with Hutchinson.
“We’ll evaluate where we’re at and make decision,” he said.
Leclerc the LeCloser of the future?
The Rangers want Jose Leclerc to be their closer. He just has to earn it.
While he didn’t have an opportunity to close on Sunday, he did on Saturday and earned his first save of the season. It was the first nine-inning save opportunity for a Texas pitcher since Keone Kela was traded to the Pirates on Tuesday.
Leclerc said he actually didn’t have any idea when, or if, he would go into the game on Saturday, when the Rangers padded their 2-1 lead with an insurance run courtesy of a Rougned Odor solo shot in the eighth.
“I was just keeping up with the game,” he said.
When his name was called, to begin the ninth, he made quick work of the Orioles to preserve the victory. He currently has a 2.21 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP this season. Opponents are hitting just .153 against him, and he is averaging 12.61 strikeouts per nine innings.
“It’s going to be a learning process for Leclerc,” Bannister said. “He’s got the stuff. What it feels like, that’s what these young guys go through in the back end. The heart rate has a chance to get elevated. How does he get through an inning when he gives up a hit, or a ball is not played behind him? How he continues to pitch in those situations. That’s when we’ll evaluate him. This kid has grit, no doubt about it.”
He’s got a live arm, a plus-fastball and that aforementioned grit to get the job done. He’ll just need a bigger sample size to prove that he’s the guy at the end of games for Texas.
Doing his best Adrian Beltre impersonation
Yes, we’re talking about the same Profar who entered Sunday tied for the second most errors in the majors this season; two off the dubious mark currently held by Boston’s Rafael Devers.
He was every bit as good flashing the leather as any third baseman in the league the past two days.
“He’s played good defense,” Banister said. “It’s gotten better. The footwork has gotten better both at third base and second base. He played well for us when he was at shortstop. The throwing with the footwork has gotten much better.”
Choosing the highlight of his glovemanship is certainly up for debate.
There was the heat-seeking missile he was able to hang onto by Danny Valencia to end Saturday’s game. The ball was hit so hard Profar took a few extra moments laying in the fetal position to make sure he didn’t have any limbs missing.
“This is a guy that’s enjoying playing the game, playing solid defense for us,” Banister said. “That was a hot smash there at the end that he was able to make a play there. If we don’t make that catch there then it becomes a little more challenging. He’s been playing well. I love the energy that he’s giving us.”
He was equally as good on Sunday, snagging a bunted ball bare handed to get a speedy Tim Beckham out at first in the first. There was the great snag on a sharply hit ground ball by Valencia in the third to take away a base hit, and a few other plays that made you nod in appreciation.
“We’ve seen as much growth in Pro as anyone on the club,” Banister said. “Today was his 97th or 98th game he’s played in. He continues to be productive in a tough spot moving around from first base to second base, he’s played third, he’s played short. The defense continues to improve. The throws continue to improve.”