Youngsters Duran, Taveras hit their stride in slugfest

May 8th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- From the very start, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy felt like Sunday’s series finale against the Angels would be a slugfest no matter who won. 

Fortunately for Bochy, his squad found a way to come out on top, slugging three homers and four doubles in a second straight blowout of the American League West rival Angels. Texas won, 16-8, to take the series and remain atop the division at 20-13. 

The offense was needed even more in the series finale considering starter Martín Pérez hit his first speed bump of the season, allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.

“It's good when you maybe don't feel like you’re doing your job as a pitcher,” Pérez said of the offense. “You're just trying, and sometimes you don't have it. And then you’ve got to lean on the hitters. They’ve been hitting the ball really good, and we’ve just been playing good baseball.”

Every Ranger recorded at least one hit except -- who reached via error -- and , who only had one plate appearance before exiting the game with a right hamstring injury. banged out four hits with four RBIs, and was the highlight of the game, going 3-for-4 with two walks and a big three-run homer in the seventh inning to blow the game open. Second-year players and both added homers of their own in Texas’ big day. 

When asked who impressed him the most in the big 17-hit, 16-run performance, Bochy couldn't even decide. 

“Gosh, it’s hard to single one guy out,” he said. “But you get down 3-0 [in the first inning], and Zeke [Duran] hits a two-run homer. He gets us back in the game. It was contagious throughout the lineup  … You lose Jankowski, and then Smitty goes in there, and he hits a home run. It was just good to see everybody really doing something to help in that ballgame.’

There were a lot of external question marks about the Rangers lineup entering the season, but Texas’ staff was always confident with what they had offensively. 

The top three hitters of , and García have performed as well as expected, but the depth up and down the lineup has shown throughout the season, especially with sidelined with a hamstring strain and out with a knee sprain.

The Rangers now have 221 runs this season, setting a club record for runs scored in the first 33 games of a season (previously 216 runs in 1998).  The last MLB team with at least 221 runs through the first 33 games of a season was the 2000 Cardinals (223), while the last AL team to do it was Cleveland in 1999 (232).

Today is the Rangers' MLB-high ninth game with 10 or more runs this season. The nine instances of 10 or more runs have set a Texas club record through the first 33 games of a season. 

“We're missing two of our biggest power bats with Seager and Garver, and we’re still doing what we're doing,” Semien said. “Once we get those two back, it's gonna be tough to put a lineup together, and that's a good problem to have. The group that we have right now has been I think just playing well together and feeding off each other.”

Even the club’s two youngest players in 23-year-old Duran and 24-year-old Taveras have hit their strides early this season and are both hitting above .300 through 33 games.

Taveras' four hits are a career high, and his four RBIs are the second most he’s had in a game. Duran went 2-for-5 with a big two-run homer.

“Even I didn't realize how deep this lineup is,” Bochy said. “I didn't know a lot about Duran, for example, and Jankowski. There's a guy that was fighting to make our club, and he's made a big impact. You look at the season Jonah [Heim] having, and then Leo, both hitting .300. Once you get to the 6-7-8-9 hitters in the lineup, it’s still tough to navigate through. These guys all do a great job -- I’ve said so many times -- of maintaining that discipline. If they don’t get a pitch to hit, they take their walk and pass it onto the next person.”