Dunning snaps his winless streak with authority

August 7th, 2022

ARLINGTON --  From the morning up until he took the mound at Globe Life Field on Saturday, Dane Dunning almost felt like he was making his Major League debut all over again.

At least, that’s how nervous he was.

“I probably felt either just as nervous or maybe even a little bit more than I was in my debut,” said Dunning, who made his first career appearance with the White Sox in 2020 before being acquired by the Rangers.

Prior to Texas’ 8-0 win over the White Sox on Saturday, Dunning hadn’t picked up a win in over three months.

The right-hander said the nerves he felt were a combination of pitching against his former team -- who he didn't pitch well against in his first game at Guaranteed Rate Field as a Ranger last season -- and trying to get over the hump of adding one to the win column.

Despite having produced multiple quality starts, Dunning was winless through a stretch of 15 outings with an 0-5 record dating back to May 8 -- his last win coming against the Braves on April 30.

“I can only control so much as soon as the ball leaves my hand,” Dunning said. “Even throughout the season -- if I didn’t have run support or if I did -- I was taking it every single day with the same attitude.”

Before the game, Rangers manager Chris Woodward talked about how intrigued he was by Dunning and his attitude when Texas traded for him back in December of 2020. He described him as a competitor and winner.

“I know it stinks, because he’s kind of an old school starting pitcher where he values the win and the fact that he hasn’t got one in a while," Woodward said during pregame. "I know it hurts him, but I think it motivates him a little bit, it gives him a little edge.”

And it did. When Dunning was placed on the 15-day IL on July 11 with a right ankle impingement, he used that time to reflect on his mechanics. In his three starts since coming off the injured list, Woodward has noticed a difference.

Even Saturday, the velocity on all of his pitches was up a couple ticks as he powered through seven innings.

“Some guys just out-stuff people. Some guys just out-slug people,” Woodward said. “When you see the competitor come out, when you put things together and you see the delivery with the stuff, and then you get the competitor and the makeup to go with it, that’s what that is.

“When you put everything together with Dane, you’re going to get really positive results because he’s not scared of any situation.”

Dunning surrendered just one hit and one walk on his way to striking out six in the longest scoreless outing of his career. His win was backed up with run support from Adolis García, who went 2-for-4 with five RBIs and a run.

“While he was on the IL, we broke down a lot of things. He was 100 percent invested and on board and worked really hard,” Woodward said. “I think that’s kind of a testament to what we can provide our players, honestly, in a lot of ways.”