Semien Breaks Homer Slump as Rangers Edge Rays

Rangers Rays
(Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

Rangers 4, Rays 3

ARLINGTON, Tex. (Jul 6) — The Texas Rangers used a late rally to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4–3, on Saturday afternoon. A two-run home run by Marcus Semien in the seventh proved to be the difference maker in this one, giving the Rangers the series victory. They will aim for the three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon with first pitch slated for 1:35 pm Central at Globe Life Field. Right-hander Zack Littell (3–5, 3.94 ERA) will get the ball for the Rays, while the Rangers will send righty Nathan Eovaldi (5–3, 3.15 ERA) to the hill in the series finale.

On the Board Early

The Rangers got on the scoreboard in the top of the second against Rays starter Taj Bradley. After Adolis Garcia flied to third and Wyatt Langford grounded to third, Jonah Heim ripped a single to right. Leody Taveras advanced Heim to second when he drew a walk. On deck was Andrew Knizner, who scored Heim with a single to center.

The Rangers extended their lead to 2–0 in the top of the third. Bradley opened the inning by walking Semien. Up next was Corey Seager, who singled to right. Both he and Semien moved up a base on a passed ball from Bradley to Nathaniel Lowe, who plated Semien moments later with a single to center.

The Rays grabbed a 3–2 lead in the top of the seventh. With Josh Sborz on in relief for Rangers starter Andrew Heaney, Jonny DeLuca singled to right. He stole second moments before Brandon Lowe, who was pinch-hitting for Jose Caballero, struck out swinging. DeLuca moved to third on a single to center by Taylor Walls.

Semien Comes Through

Both teams made changes before the next play. Rangers lefty Jacob Latz came in to relieve Sborz, and the Rays sent in Josh Lowe to pinch-hit for Alex Jackson. Latz got Lowe out on strikes, bringing up leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz. The crowd was uneasy at this point, and Diaz fed off it as he blasted a three-run homer to left, giving the Rays a 3–2 lead.

The Rangers quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh off Rays reliever Kevin Kelly. Taveras got things started with a single to right. Knizner and Jonathan Ornelas both struck out swinging to bring up Marcus Semien. He sent one over the wall in left-center, putting the Rangers back on top, 4–3. It was the 12th homer of the year for Semien and his first since June 9 against the San Francisco Giants. The Rangers won that game, 7–2.

What Went Right for the Rangers

The Rangers had cause to celebrate on Saturday. They have taken the first two games of their final home series before hosting the 2024 All-Star Game on July 16. Not only that, but they saw Semien break out of his home run slump. The biggest thing in this game is that the Rangers were relentless in grinding out the win. This game was sort of like going in to get your back waxed. Some moments were hairy and full of pain. There was a lot of screaming, but the job eventually got done.

What Went Wrong for the Rangers

The Rangers were cruising until the top of the seventh when Diaz hit his big dinger off Heaney. Up until then the Rays had trouble figuring out each pitcher the Rangers put in front of them.

Heaney Joins 1,000 K Club

Rangers lefty Andrew Heaney fired 5 1/3 scoreless frames but did not factor into the decision of Saturday’s game. His line on the afternoon was 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 92 pitches/62 strikes. He fanned Amed Rosario in the third inning for his 1000th career strikeout, becoming the 17th active left-handed pitcher with at least 1,000 strikeouts for his career. Heaney has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last 12 starts, matching the longest such streak of his career. The last Ranger with such a streak was Martin Perez from September 2, 2022 to April 30, 2023.

Over his last 12 starts, Heaney is 3–6 with a 2.96 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and 15 walks to drop his season ERA from 6.26 to 3.80. After getting the final out of the seventh, Jonathan Hernandez picked his second win of the year. He is now 2–0 with an ERA of 3.94. Kirby Yates tossed a perfect ninth, earning his 13th save of the year, and his second save in as many days.

No Decision for Bradley

Rays starter Taj Bradley did not factor into the decision despite tossing his fourth quality start of the season. His line was 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R-1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 79 pitches/46 strikes. Bradley has gone 2–1 with a 1.29 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 13 walks to drop his season ERA from 5.81 to 3.23. He punched out four of the last five batters he faced on Saturday afternoon, as his 206 strikeouts thru 34 career appearances are the second-most ever by a Rays pitcher over his first 34 career outings (Shane McClanahan, 215). After giving up Semien’s dinger, Kelly was saddled with the loss. He is now 2–1 with an ERA of 3.72.

Postgame Comments

After the game, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy discussed Semien’s homer. “I’m sure, for him, the homer is big,” Bochy said. “He had the day off (Friday). He worked hard. I’m sure that gave him some time to reset, clear his mind a little bit, look at some things, work on some things. He’s such a good player. Everybody goes through their times where it’s not quite going well. You know they’re going to come out of it and that was the case with Marcus.”

Moments after Bochy’s exit, Heaney emerged to give his thoughts on the late-inning blast. “I was so pumped for him and obviously pumped for us to change the momentum a little bit,” Heaney said. “I’m just happy for him. I know it’s been tough. I’m not gonna pretend to know what’s going on. I’m not a hitter. But Marcus is great. He knows what he’s doing. And I know that felt good for him.”

 

 

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