Rangers Sweep Rays in Matinee

Rangers Rays
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Rangers 5, Rays 1

ARLINGTON, Tex. (Jul 19) — The Texas Rangers completed the sweep in their series against the Tampa Bay Rays, beating them 5–1 Wednesday afternoon. Leody Taveras and Jonah Heim contributed to the win with solo homers. Heim also added an RBI single. With this win, the Rangers complete their second consecutive three-game sweep coming out of the All-Star Break, having swept the Cleveland Guardians earlier in the week. In addition, it knocks the Rays out of sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since Opening Day (March 30). The Rangers will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three games to close out the homestand. That series will start Friday evening at 7:05 pm Central at Globe Life Field. Right-hander Tony Gonsolin (5–3, 3.72 ERA) will make the start for the Dodgers. The Rangers will hand the ball to lefty and former Dodger Andrew Heaney (6–6, 4.43 ERA) in the series opener.

Good Day for Taveras

Much like Tuesday’s game, this one stayed scoreless until the third inning. The Rangers jumped out to a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the third. On the first pitch of the inning, Taveras blasted one 20 rows deep into right field.

The Rangers extended their lead to 2–0 in the bottom of the seventh. After a single and a steal of second, Travis Jankowski scored on a single to center by Taveras.

The Rangers weren’t finished yet, however. They added three more in the bottom of the eighth. With Nathaniel Lowe and Josh H. Smith on base after a double and a hit-by-pitch to Adolis Garcia (Note: Garcia was lifted for Smith as the pinch runner after sustaining a bruise on his left arm from the hit-by-pitch), Heim launched a three-run missile to right.

The Rays notched a consolation run in the top of the ninth on a solo home run to left by Jose Siri.

Short Day for Gray

Rangers right-hander Jon Gray got a no-decision on Wednesday. He tossed 4 1/3 innings in which he allowed eight hits and one walk while striking out four. Gray had to be removed from the game after being struck by a line drive by Yandy Diaz in the bottom of the fifth. He was diagnosed with a bruised left shin, and X-rays came back negative. Gray has now lost or not factored into the decision in his last seven consecutive starts, going 0–4 in that stretch. After throwing two innings and striking out three, Brock Burke got the win for the Rangers. He is now 4–2 with an ERA of 2.79.

One of the feel good-stories of this game was righty Alex Speas. In the top of the seventh, the right-hander made his major league debut. Speas had his contract selected from Triple-A Round Rock prior to Wednesday’s contest. He tossed an inning and two thirds. Speas struck out three batters, stranding one inherited runner in the process. A second round pick by the Rangers in the 2016 Draft, Speas is the fourth Ranger to make his debut this season. The others are Grant Anderson, Cody Bradford, and Owen White. … Rays starter Zack Littell took the loss despite allowing one earned run in 3 1/3 innings. Littell is now 0–2 with an ERA of 5.56. Right-handers Calvin Faucher and Kevin Kelly gave up the Rangers’ other four runs on the afternoon.

Postgame Comments

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy reflected upon Speas’ performance after the game. Bochy said, “He did a real nice job. I wanted to try and find him a nice, soft landing spot, but with the runner on first, it didn’t work out that way. He did real nice job despite that, however. I thought he showed great poise. I can’t say enough about what he did. He really handled the situation so well. I know that he has worked hard to get here. He took some time off, and he went out there like he was in a good place mentally. It was great to see.”

Alex Speas also spoke with reporters after the game. The first question he fielded was how he felt walking into the clubhouse for the first time. He said, “Being around the guys was even better than I hoped it would be. It was great to have their support, and walking onto the field knowing what this team is in the middle of is really exciting. I couldn’t be happier to be here, and I’ll do whatever I can to help these guys win a championship.”


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