Rangers Storm Castle against Royals in Series Opener

Rangers Royals
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Rangers 6, Royals 2

ARLINGTON, Tex. (June 21) — The Texas Rangers got off to a fast start in their series opener against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, beating them, 6–2, in front of a crowd of 37,678. It was a relatively quiet ballgame until a three-run double by Marcus Semien lowered the drawbridge in the sixth inning. The Rangers are showing signs of life on this home stand, as they are now 7.5 games behind the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners, who lost to the Miami Marlins, 3–2, on Friday afternoon. That number stood at an even 10 games earlier in the week.

They’ll have an opportunity to run their winning streak to three games in the middle game of this series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 pm Central at Globe Life Field. Right-hander Michael Wacha (4–5, 4.24 ERA) will get the ball for the Royals, while righty Jon Gray (2–3, 3.31 ERA) will take the bump for the Rangers.

Royals Strike First

The Royals took the lead in the top of the third off Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi. It came on a solo home run by Kyle Isbel. The Rangers tied it 1–1 in the bottom of the fourth against Royals starter Brady Singer. Josh Smith led the inning off with a single to center. He was later tagged out at second on a 5–4 force play grounded into by Adolis Garcia. Next up was Nathaniel Lowe, who doubled up the middle, plating Garcia in the process.

The Royals responded quickly in the top of the fifth. A leadoff double to left by MJ Melendez got things started. He advanced to third when Nick Loftin flied to right. Melendez scored on a single to left by Garrett Hampson, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Isbel. Isbel had exited earlier in the game with lower back tightness.

Rangers Prove to be Royal Pains

The Rangers took over in the bottom of the sixth against Royals reliever John Schreiber. Garcia led off the frame with a single to center. Lowe followed that up with a ground-rule double to left-center. It was originally ruled a triple, but replay showed that the ball hit above the yellow line on a bounce, overturning the call. Consequently, Lowe had to stop at second as Garcia returned to third. Moments later, Wyatt Langford brought Garcia home for good on a single to left. On deck was Jonah Heim, who drove in Lowe by grounding into a 4–6 force play, giving the Rangers a 3–2 lead.

This forced Royals manager Matt Quatraro to bring in reliever Sam Long. Robbie Grossman, pinch-hitting for Travis Jankowskidrew a free pass, sending Heim to second with Leody Taveras on deck. He moved both runners over with an infield single to third, loading the bases for Semien. Semien lined a sharp double to deep left and plated all three runners to give the Rangers a 6–2 lead. Even though the Rangers haven’t had a crowd of fewer than 30,000 this entire home stand, it was never quite as loud over the past week than when Semien hit his double. There was a very healthy mix of excitement and appreciation, as they have been in an offensive dry spell lately.

What Went Right for the Rangers

As previously mentioned, the Rangers are coming to life. It seems like they are enjoying playing baseball again. That was a huge reason why they won the World Series year. Aside from the fact that they are a very talented ball club, they had a lot of fun in 2023. The Rangers are trying to bring that mentality back. While it is true that it’s a job for these guys first and foremost, it helps to have fun with it. Let’s face it, if you can’t have fun playing baseball, there’s something wrong. The Rangers didn’t have any home runs on Friday, but they did have plenty of base runners, and they found ways to get them in.

What Went Wrong for the Rangers

It’s interesting when the second run that a team scores in a game is driven in by the player who came in as a pinch-hitter for the guy who drove in their first run. That’s exactly what happened on Friday. Isbel hit his homer in the third and Hampson scored Melendez in the fifth. A lot of people in the ballpark were concerned when that happened, but the Rangers had other plans.

Five Quality Outings

Rangers righty Nathan Eovaldi earned the win on Friday after producing his fifth quality start of the season. His final line was 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R-ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 98 pitches/63 strikes). Eovaldi’s record now sits at 4–3 with an ERA of 3.14. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his eight starts at Globe Life Field this season, joining Kyle Gibson in 2021 as the only pitchers in Rangers history to permit two or fewer earned runs in each of their first eight home starts of a campaign. Eovaldi has gone 3–0 with a 2.22 ERA across eight starts in Arlington this season compared to going 1–3 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts on the road. The Alvin, Texas native is 11–3 with an ERA of 3.16 over 22 starts in his career at Globe Life Field, including the postseason.

Singer Loses His Voice

Royals starter Brady Singer did not factor into Friday’s decision in his 15th start of 2024. His line on the evening was 5 IP, 3 H, 1R-ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR, 89 pitches/51 strikes). All three hits he allowed came in the fourth inning, yielding the single run on Langford’s RBI double before stranding the bases loaded. Singer has yet to record a win over the Rangers in his career. He is 0–3 in five starts against them. After recording one out and surrendering Semien’s three-run double in the sixth, John Schreiber took the loss, bringing his record to 3–2 with an ERA of 4.15.

Bochy’s Postgame Comments

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy expressed his gratitude for the effort his team put in on Friday. “It’s good to see these guys having some success and doing what they are good at,” Bochy said. “That’s knocking in runs. But it all started with Nate (Eovaldi). I mean, what a great job he did. Six solid innings, kept us there, and gave us a chance to win. A well-played game. We pitched well and got some big hits.”

Eovaldi’s Postgame Comments

After Bochy retired to his office, Eovaldi took his seat in the interview room and reflected on his evening. “I think I was just working ahead,” Eovaldi said of shutting down the heart of the Royals’ lineup. “I felt like I was able to get ahead of most of those guys, and when you’re ahead I feel like you’re in the driver’s seat and you got to make good pitches after that. It’s a lot harder when you’re down in the count. If you’re 2-0, I feel like anybody can hurt you, especially that part of their lineup. If you can limit them from getting on base, I feel like you’re doing a good job.”

Eovaldi was then asked what he liked about pitching in his home ballpark, given his success at Globe Life Field. “I do like pitching here in front of the home crowd and everything,” Eovaldi said. “I’ve enjoyed that. I tried to take a lot of pride in pitching on the road as well and just trying to get their crowd out of the game.” “That’s the goal, right?” Eovaldi added. “Six (innings) is the minimum. We want to try to go as deep as we can into the game. I feel like if the starters can go deep, you’re going to give us a good chance to win the ballgame, right?”

 

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