Seager, García slug Bradford to first MLB win

July 8th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- For the first-place Rangers, the first half of 2023 has been a dream. And after a few difficult series, during which they’ve seen their surprise lead in the American League West dwindle, they intend to finish it strong.

And so the Rangers were pleased with the all-around 7-2 win they captured on Friday over the Nationals at Nationals Park, with which they began their final series of the first half on a high note.

“It’s nice to have a normal game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We did a lot of good things tonight.”

Friday’s victory was a true team win -- all but one Texas starter recorded at least one hit, and three relievers helped rookie left-hander earn his first MLB victory. Here are three highlights from the opener:

Seager steaming
Is there anyone hotter than right now? Maybe not. Seager doesn’t qualify for the batting title yet because of the six weeks he missed early in the season due to injury. But if he did, he’d enter the final weekend of the first half leading the American League in hitting and OPS, riding a 26-game on-base streak during which he’s hit .387/.452/.676 with six homers and 23 RBIs. Seager’s is the longest active on-base streak in MLB.

Seager’s fingerprints were all over Friday’s win. He doubled and scored in the first inning, and in the seventh rocketed his 12th homer of the season -- a 108.1 mph, 423-foot solo shot -- off Joan Adon.

“I don’t know what else to say, really -- he’s one of the best hitters I’ve had, that’s how good he is,” Bochy said. “He has a knack of making hard contact, and power to all fields. … He’s just that good. That’s why he’s here, and that’s why he’s one of our guys.”

As García goes …
Already heading to his second All-Star Game, Rangers right fielder learned Friday that he will now start Tuesday in Seattle, giving the Rangers a record five position player starters for this year’s Midsummer Classic.

“It’s going to be awesome,” García said. “It’s going to feel like we’re back home and playing together like we do every single day.”

García celebrated the news in style, homering as part of a two-hit, two-run, two-RBI night. He also contributed defensively, leaping into the right-field wall to rob Alex Call of extra bases in the seventh.

It was a testament to the all-around star García has grown into on both sides of the ball. He’s had the power -- which he’ll display in Monday’s T-Mobile Home Run Derby -- and defensive acumen as far back as 2021, when he earned his first All-Star nod as a rookie. But his 23 homers in 88 games are nearly as many as he hit in 149 games in ‘21 (31), and his .332 on-base percentage is 46 points higher than it was as a rookie.

All told, García leads AL hitters in RBIs, ranks third in homers and slugging percentage, eighth in OPS and above-average defensively by various metrics, including rating in the 97th percentile in arm strength, per Statcast. The entirety of that skillset was on display Friday, and soon it will be on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

“I just want to enjoy myself,” García said.

Bradford’s 1st MLB win
Over the course of a 162-game season, good teams receive contributions from up and down their 40-man rosters, exercising their depth when they need to without missing much of a beat. That proved true for the Rangers on Friday, when they inserted Bradford into their rotation to give struggling veteran Martín Pérez extra rest prior to the All-Star break.

Bradford -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rangers' No. 26 prospect -- provided his strongest outing of the year, working five innings of one-run ball to earn his first career victory.

“It feels great,” Bradford said. “I put in a lot of hard work to get this one, and it was hot and sweaty, and I feel like I earned it.”

Said Bochy: “He gave us what we needed.”