Scherzer Goes Five as Rangers Sweep Royals

Rangers Royals
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Rangers 4, Royals 0

ARLINGTON, Tex. (June 23) — The Texas Rangers broke out the brooms on Sunday, as they completed the three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, beating them 4–0. Josh Smith hit a solo dinger in the seventh to help the Rangers nail down the Sunday matinee. With this win, the Rangers now sit 6 1/2 games behind the AL West-leading Seattle Mariners, who lost 6–4 to the Miami Marlins on Sunday. They’re also a half-game behind the Houston Astros, who beat the Baltimore Orioles, 8–1, on Sunday.

From here, they embark on a six-game road trip, starting with a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers. That series will begin on Monday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm Central at American Family Field. Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (4–3, 3.00 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Rangers, while the Brewers will counter with righty Freddy Peralta (5–4, 4.06 ERA). The Royals, meanwhile, will head back to Kansas City to take on the aforementioned Miami Marlins in a three-game series. That is set to get underway on Monday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm Central at Kauffman Stadium. Righty Roddery Munoz (1–2, 5.76 ERA) will take the hill for the Marlins, while the Royals will hand the ball to former Ranger Cole Ragans (4–5, 3.13 ERA).

Three-Run Fourth for Rangers

The Rangers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth off Alec Marsh. Adolis Garcia led things off with a walk. Nathaniel Lowe followed with an infield single that was out of reach for third baseman Maikel Garcia. That brought up Wyatt Langford, who hit a grand slam against the Royals in Saturday’s game. Langford plated Garcia with a double to center to give the Rangers a 1–0 lead. Two batters later, Leody Taveras scored both Lowe and Langford with a single to left, making it 3–0 Rangers. They stretched it to 4–0 in the bottom of the seventh off Royals reliever Sam Long. Smith, who also homered in Saturday’s contest, blasted one to right. It was his seventh of the year, and a new season-high for Smith.

What Went Right for the Rangers

Smith’s home run is near the top of the list in this category for Sunday’s game. Also, while it didn’t add to the outcome of the game, Taveras stole the 50th base of his career in the fourth. The RBI base hits helped as well. The Rangers’ pitching also staff stood out, not only in this game but the entire series. Rangers pitchers have logged a season-high 22 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to Friday’s 6–2 win over the Royals. According to Stats Perform LLC, it is the club’s longest such streak since September 21-25 in 2016, which was 23 scoreless innings. This is the club’s third scoreless streak of 20+ innings this season, and its second in the month of June, which was 20 scoreless frames from June 1–3.

What Went Wrong for the Rangers

The only thing that went wrong for the Rangers on Sunday was they allowed a ground-rule double to right-center to MJ Melendez in the fifth. This just happened to break up a perfect game that Rangers starter Max Scherzer was working on. At 57 pitches, Scherzer exited after the fifth. The double was one of only two base runners that the Rangers allowed in the series finale.

Scherzer in Mid-Season Form One Start In.

As mentioned above, Scherzer was basically untouchable in his season debut for the Rangers on Sunday. He was activated from the 60-day IL on Sunday, where he was rehabbing from offseason back surgery. Scherzer recorded the win after tossing five scoreless frames. His line on the afternoon was 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 57 pitches/39 strikes. He became the second Rangers pitcher since the beginning of 2014 to allow one or fewer hits over five-plus innings in his first outing of a campaign. Scherzer retired each of the first 13 batters he faced before surrendering the ground-rule double to Melendez with one out in the top of the fifth.

He recorded his 3,371st career strikeout when he fanned Hunter Renfroe in the fifth inning, pulling into a tie with Greg Maddux for 11th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeouts list. After Scherzer’s exit, reliever Jose Urena took over in the fifth, and got a rare four-inning save. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out one. It marks his first save of the year.

Marsh’s Afternoon

Royals starter Alec Marsh fell one out shy of a quality start, and shouldered the loss in Sunday’s game. He now owns a record of 5–5 with an ERA of 4.40. His final line was 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R-ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 101 pitches/66 strikes. Marsh worked three scoreless innings to begin his afternoon, sustaining all of his damage in the three-run fourth inning, underscored by RBI knocks from Langford and Taveras. After posting a 2.43 ERA over his first seven starts of the season, Marsh has a 6.28 ERA over his last seven starts to balloon his season ERA to 4.40.

Bochy’s Postgame Comments

As expected, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy aimed all of his postgame remarks at Scherzer’s outing. While he was happy with the results, he’s keeping a realistic mindset. “We’re not putting any expectations on him,” Bochy said. “He’s missed a lot of games. We’ve told him that. We’re not expecting him to be that [three-time Cy Young Award winner]. We want him to go out there and give us a chance to win. That’s all we’re looking for. Max is a smart guy. He knows himself better than anybody, knows where he’s at in his career. It’s good to have him out there. His presence is good for the club, I think.”

“I’ll be honest, we weren’t sure exactly where [Scherzer] was,” Bochy said. “I mean, he had his rehab starts, but this just makes you appreciate how good this man is. His first start back to throw that ball like that, just an incredible job he did tonight. It’s good to see him out there. The club was glad to see him out there and you just saw him competing at his finest. It is a testament to what he’s done in the game, how competitive he is. It’s been a long road back, with a pretty big hiccup there, with what he’s been battling. It does take somebody that’s so tough-minded with the grit that he has. Like I said, it makes you appreciate really how good this man is.”

Scherzer’s Postgame Comments

Mere seconds after Bochy’s exit, Scherzer himself sauntered into the interview room to give his take on the afternoon. “Everything from a baseball standpoint was telling me to go back out there,” Scherzer said. “I’m pitching well, I’m throwing the ball well. Everything from that end says keep on going. I just don’t know how I’m going to recover from this with the thumb issues. It’s still there with the radial nerve, radial line. I did feel fatigue in my forearm. I just don’t know how I’m going to recover from this. That’s been the issue at hand here. After the fifth inning, we felt like we got enough work and felt like we’re in a good spot. That was kind of my line.”

“[The Royals’ hitters] were aggressive, and we were able to get some quick outs because of that,” Scherzer said. “Then obviously our offense gets a nice little three-spot and gives me a little breathing room. We played great baseball and we won. That’s why it’s great. It’s a great team win when everybody chips in and contributes. That’s what we play the game for.”


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