'When he goes, we go': Semien heats up in old stomping grounds

May 28th, 2022

OAKLAND -- Entering Friday night, Marcus Semien had 375 hits, 218 runs and 152 RBIs over 390 games played at the Oakland Coliseum.

He added to each of those totals in the Rangers' 8-5 win over the A’s, putting together a 3-for-5 night in his hometown, where he spent six of his 10 years in the big leagues.

“Multihit games anywhere, I'll take them,” Semien said. “Especially when we win, you know. I've always said that this is a place [where] I love playing. I’ve played many, many, many games here, probably thousands of at-bats. And I had my family watching, so it's always fun.”

The Bay Area native played a pivotal role in two of the Rangers’ run-scoring innings. He led off the game with a line drive into left field and later scored on a Jonah Heim single that gave Texas an early 2-0 lead.

“At the top of the lineup, you want to be a run scorer,” Semien said. “However you score runs, whether it's walking and getting on base or whatever ... I want to score runs. I know when I get on base, I can run the bases well and make something happen. So it's up to me to get going and set the tone at the top.”

The lead, however, wouldn’t hold. The A’s put up a five-spot on starter Jon Gray in the third inning while the Rangers' offense struggled to get anything going until the latter three innings, when they pounced on Oakland's bullpen for six runs.

In the top of the ninth, right after Andy Ibáñez broke a 5-5 tie on a go-ahead two-run single off the bench, Semien delivered the decisive blow with a run-scoring single that padded the Rangers’ lead and helped secure their first winning month since June 2019.

“When I was walking to the box, I was just happy for Andy to get that big hit in a big spot,” Semien said of his ninth-inning at-bat. “That's what I was thinking going up there, and I went back to my instincts to get on the fastball because he [Dany Jiménez] just threw a ton of sliders. Sometimes they come back with the heater, and I was ready.”

Semien said the last time the Rangers played in Oakland that he was hoping a return home could jump-start him.

He referred to last season, with the Blue Jays, when he was struggling with a .228/.301/.416 slash heading into an early-May series in Oakland. He went 7-for-17 against the A’s in that four-game series en route to a scorching hot month and eventually a third-place finish in American League MVP voting.

It’s still a long way to go, but Semien seems to be getting back on track.

Signed to a seven-year, $175 million contract over the offseason, Semien has now hit safely in seven of his last nine games. During that span, he has a .324 average with three RBIs and two extra-base hits, though he is still searching for his first home run as a Ranger.

“You can see what happens when he gets hits, when he gets on base: We score runs,” Woodward said. “Obviously, the guys behind him are really good, but he can impact the game in a lot of ways, even if he isn’t hitting homers. Like today, he found holes and hit line drives, and when he does that, he can steal bases and can do a lot of things for us offensively. When he goes, we go.”