But having both in a groove is no doubt better than just one of them. The middle infielders both homered in Tuesday night’s matchup with the Rays at Globe Life Field, propelling the Rangers to a 5-3 victory to take the series and extend the club’s winning streak to five games.
“I hit first in front of a lot of good hitters,” Semien said, also shrugging off the praise. “It's up to me to get on base and try to get us going. I think it's up to myself and the guys around Corey really -- I mean, he’s hitting [.348] -- just to get on base and make it tough on the other team because they know he's in the two-hole there. So when we all get going, it’s gonna be scary.”
Semien’s solo homer in the third inning was the Rangers’ sole run for much of the game, as Rays starter Taj Bradley shut down the powerful offense in his five-plus innings of work. The second baseman is 6-for-16 in the five games since the All-Star break.
Semien was slashing .282/.344/.457 through the end of June, but he entered the second half hitting .167 in the final nine games before the All-Star break. Manager Bruce Bochy echoed Seager’s thoughts that Semien is what keeps the offense going this year.
“He's a tremendous player, you start with that,” Bochy said. “I think if you look at the season, when he's going, we go. He's such a catalyst, and he's such a good hitter. We're all going to have our little moments, but at the end of the day, it's gonna be just a great year for him. That's how I see it. Same with Corey, they’re our core guys. But Marcus is swinging the bat well again, he's playing great second base. You can see, when he gets on, he's got a knack for scoring runs. It's pretty cool to watch.”
With Bradley out of the game, Texas made quick work of Tampa Bay’s bullpen, which allowed one of Bradley’s inherited runners to score in the sixth inning on Travis Jankowski’s RBI double and then set up Seager’s big three-run home run in the seventh.
Seager uncharacteristically had three strikeouts going into that big at-bat that blew the game open, continuing one of the best seasons of his career. Since coming off the IL on May 17, the shortstop was slashing .347/.401/.629 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs entering Tuesday.
“He’s just such a good hitter,” Bochy said. “You're not gonna see that [three strikeouts] very often with him. The good ones don't think about the previous at-bat. Their focus is on that at-bat and is not gonna let three strikeouts faze him on the next at-bat. He's as good of a hitter as I've seen. … That's what you have to do in this game. You can't think about what's happened with the negative. I’d much rather them think about how good they are.”
On the opposite end, Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi tossed six scoreless innings and worked hard with his velocity a tick down and command a bit off. He allowed two hits and three walks and struck out just two, but he lowered his ERA to 2.69 on the season.
The Rangers' de facto ace since Jacob deGrom went down with a right UCL tear, Eovaldi emphasized how much the club’s pitching feeds off the offense and vice versa. And it certainly doesn't hurt having guys like Seager and Semien to keep it moving.
“It's incredible how those two guys can really ignite the entire offense,” Eovaldi said. “I feel like Corey has been unbelievable all year, and Marcus is getting back to that right now. During that stretch when we were really good, he was leading the way, and he's been able to do that these last few games.
“I think that's one of the biggest things, too, for us coming back from the All-Star break. We've been throwing the ball really well, and I think when we're able to do that, the offense is going to be able to just take over again. They're able to relax a little bit more knowing that we're going to be able to hold them to limited runs.”