Semien's latest 1st a positive sign for Rangers

June 2nd, 2022

ARLINGTON -- It took 44 games for Marcus Semien to hit his first home run as a Ranger, which happened a week ago in Oakland. It only took five more games afterwards for him to hit his second, this one coming at Globe Life Field on Thursday afternoon.

Semien’s 380-foot shot into the left-field stands was Texas’ lone run of the game as he avoided a shutout loss when the Rangers fell, 3-1, to the Rays in the series finale.

“I was just focused on what [Rays starter Corey Kluber] was doing to me and trying to get ahead,” Semien said. “I was glad that I attacked him early on. That's what I made a living off of, pulling fly balls like that last year. So I definitely want to get that going.”

That home run was the first run Kluber had given up at Globe Life Field through three starts in the stadium. The right-hander was acquired by the Rangers in December 2019, but he pitched just one scoreless inning in ‘20 before a shoulder tear kept him out the rest of the season. He pitched for the Yankees in ‘21, when he no-hit Texas in his return to the ballpark.

While he didn’t no-hit the Rangers again, Kluber moved effectively through Texas’ lineup and limited the offense to just four hits while striking out four over six innings. He mostly utilized the changeup and cutter to throw the hitters off balance.

It was the second day in a row that the Rangers struggled consistently to score with runners in scoring position. In Wednesday’s extra-innings loss, they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base. In the series finale, they were 1-for-7 while stranding six.

Semien noted that the Rays’ bullpen especially is really good at attacking hitters and making it difficult to execute your own game plan as a hitter.

“We got guys on base, and we did put some runners out there,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward added. “We actually took some decent swings in those situations. If we keep getting traffic out there and keep putting ourselves in situations like that, we’ll eventually cash it in. Those are moments that we need to learn how to execute and come through in those big moments.”

For Semien, who played shortstop on Thursday on a scheduled off-day for Corey Seager, the home run was part of the continued hot streak for the middle infielder after his incredibly slow start to the season. He now has hits in six of his last seven games and owns a .279/.338/.443 slash line with two home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 15.

“I know that [home run] meant a lot to him,” Woodward said. “It was a good swing on a pitch that was actually a tough one to hit. It was almost off the plate on the inside. Hopefully that gets him going and he kind of lets some rain a little bit. Hopefully he can have a little success and keep it going.”

Woodward has consistently emphasized just how important Semien is to this offense, and the fact that the Rangers are sitting at a 24-26 record without him performing to his highest potential just yet shows how high the ceiling is for the club.

Though Semien hasn’t fully hit his stride, Woodward pointed out the growing confidence he sees from Semien day to day as he begins to string more hits together.

“When you see a guy get more confident, there's more intent in his swing,” Woodward said. “It's a little bit more free and there’s more conviction when he goes to attack the baseball. And I think it's only gonna get better to see more confidence … Every time he gets on base, he has an impact.”