Dunning splendid, but bats stay silent

May 20th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- For the second day in a row, the Rangers failed to combine a strong pitching performance with a strong offensive one. tossed one of his best games in a Texas uniform, throwing six shutout innings against a tough Yankees squad in a 2-0 loss Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Field.

But the offense was dormant.

A day after being no-hit by Corey Kluber and the Yankees, the Rangers were able to get six hits, but they were once again shut out by the same New York team. Texas has gone 22 consecutive scoreless innings.

Manager Chris Woodward said he felt like the Rangers played too tentatively, at the plate, on the bases and in the outfield.

“Those are the things that don't represent us,” Woodward said. “I'd rather lose going down fighting. I'd rather lose being aggressive. There were certain moments in the game today where I felt like we could have been the aggressor, and we chose not to. So that's just the frustrating part.”

Dunning has been on an innings limit all season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019 and pitching only 34 innings for the White Sox last season. He was at 79 pitches when he was relieved by John King, who yielded both the Yankees’ runs. Dunning hasn’t gone more than six innings this season.

Dunning said he always wants to go back out on the mound, but he understands that the limits are for his long-term health. Woodward said he contemplated sending Dunning back out, but he ultimately decided to turn to a fully rested King, who has been one of the Rangers' best relievers.

Woodward also emphasized that Dunning did his job and put the Rangers in position to win the game.

“I want to go out there each and every time, but I completely get the decision,” Dunning said. “They’re trying to get me through the season healthy. I completely get what they're trying to do. I know how it’s for the long run of my career.”

But Dunning made the best of the six innings he was presented with. He said that though he wouldn’t call it the best start of his career, it felt like a quality one. He went in wanting to be more aggressive, especially after a rough outing against a patient Astros lineup on Saturday.

After struggles early in the game in previous outings, Dunning felt like he started strong against the Yankees. He primarily used his sinker -- 48 out of his 79 pitches -- but he got a lot of soft contact on both his slider and his cutter. He used all five of his pitches in the game.

In the days since his last start, Dunning said he worked on sequencing his pitches better and not being as predictable. Woodward added that Dunning did everything that he and the pitching coaches worked on all week, and his execution was top-notch.

“I tried to utilize all my pitches throughout the entire game,” Dunning said. “Just essentially using more variety of my pitches in different kinds of different situations. The plan was to use the changeup more in this game. But it just happened that I was locating the cutter well, and we weren't getting great swings on it.

“So essentially, just seeing the reactions of the swing from the cutter, and then back to the sinker, I was able to utilize the cutter a lot more efficiently than the changeup. I still flashed the changeup a lot, but just with certain sequences that we thought it would benefit us a lot."