The Rangers traveled to The Trop to play in front of 5,000 people after getting obliterated by the Padres. The Padres are a plucky young team considered to be World Series contenders. Last season the Padres embarrassed the Rangers badly. The Pads ran up the score in the eyes of many, including Rangers skipper Chris Woodward. This season was more of the same. The Rangers were butchered beyond recognition by the plucky Pads. They got swept at home, including getting no hit by mediocre former Astro Joe Musgrove. The Rangers got shutout again after getting no hit. They were clearly out of their depth and it looked like more of the same would follow when the traveled to the tiny island of Saint Petersburg to take on the defending AL Champs.
The Rangers rode into the underpopulated Trop and had no momentum. Their best 3 bullpen arms were severely injured: Matt Bush, Jose Leclerc, and Jonathon Hernandez. All 3 fireballers are dealing with severe arm issues. Bush might never come back from his injury considering his age and injury history. It looked as though the Tampa Bay Rays would smother the hapless Rangers with their 2020 pennant as revenge for the 2010 and 2011 playoffs.
The first game of the series was a pitchers duel worthy of an ALDS rematch. Bespectacled Rangers starter Dane “Stunning” Dunning was razor sharp. He pitched 4 scoreless innings. Dunning is the young prospect the Rangers got for Lance Lynn. He is still young and being kept on a short leash. Tyler Glasnow, the Rays lanky power pitching ace, decimated the Rangers. He recorded 14 strikeouts. Glasnow is known for his electric fastball and big hook (curveball.) Glasnow’s heater appeared to go invisible to the Rangers batters when it got halfway to the plate. Over half the Rangers batters could not even see the Glasnow gas. Glasnow has had control issues, like many very tall pitchers, but when he is on and accurate, is filthy. Glasnow butchered the Rangers lineup with his fastball. Only Gallo and Kiner-Falefa could even see the pitch. When you add a brutal slider to the equation, it is easy to see why the Rangers could not touch Glasnow through 7.2 IP. Taylor Hearn pitched 3 innings after Dane Stunning. He gave up the lone run of the game, a solo shot to Rays shortstop Willy Adames. The Rangers were utterly shutdown and decimated by Rays ace Tyler Glasnow. It is worth noting the Rays lost signature arms 2 and 3 when Blake Snell and Charlie Morton left. The Rangers could not touch top tier closer Diego Castillo, who closed the 1-0 lead out for the Rays. Loss 1-0.
Game 2- Kyle “Ace” Gibson faced off against Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough. Gibson was actually very effective. He went 7 scoreless. The Rangers touched up Yarbrough for 10 hits. The Rangers Catcher Jose Trevino batted cleanup and collected 2 hits. Nick Solak had 2 hits and 3 RBI. Charlie Culberson had 3 RBI too. Gibson lived up to his sardonic title of “ace” and went 7 strong. Win 8-3.
Game 3- Japanese starting pitcher Kohei Arihara was excellent in this game. He dominated the Rays and threw a 3 hitter. He mixed his pitches very well and kept the Rays off balance. John King and Kyle Cody shut the door. The Japanese import kept the Rays guessing. David Dahl broke his cold streak with 2 hits and RBI. Recent call-up Adolis Garcia had 2 hits and RBI too. There was a hilarious play in this game where Garcia almost hit an inside the park homer, but replay overturned it. Garcia would get his revenge next game. Win 5-1
Game 4- Jordan Lyles started for the Rangers. He was opposed by ancient curveball spinning lefty Rich Hill. Hill was battered early. The Rangers were ahead early, until Jordan Lyles gave up a 2 run jack to tie the game at 3. The game was exceptionally exciting and back and forth. The Rays did not want to lose a BO4 to the worst team in the AL at home. After Lyles gave up the homer, Nick Solak tied the game in the top of the 5th. Solak looks like he is improving at the plate, and is getting better at 2nd too. The Rangers held a 4-3 lead going into the 7th inning. The inning descended into a comedy of errors. Walks, awful throwing errors, and sloppy play almost doomed the Rangers. The bases were loaded with 2 outs, and the game tied when Brett de Geus struck out Joey Wendle to escape the jam. The game went on to extras. In the top of the 10th Rangers youngster Garcia got his first career homer that he almost got the day before. Due to the insipid gimmick rule that forces teams to start with a runner on 2nd in extras, it was a 2 run shot. Ian Kennedy, who has been incredible, shut the door on the Rays in the bottom half of the inning. Win 6-4.
The Rangers series win against the Rays was incredible. Even the game they lost was 1-0. IKF looks fast and good defensively. Joey Gallo is reaching base every game. Jose Trevino looks MLB quality finally. Solak is improving rapidly. Even with an insane amount of injuries, this Rangers team is proving they can upset some people. Just do not expect any sort of consistency from this club.