Montgomery strong, but Rangers' streak ends at 8

August 10th, 2023

OAKLAND -- Nothing lasts forever, especially winning streaks. But the Rangers' eight-game surge ended with a thud in a 2-0 loss to the A’s in Wednesday afternoon's series finale at the Coliseum.

Texas continued a dominant stretch on the mound, with southpaw logging the team's seventh quality start in nine games and right-hander  following suit with two scoreless innings in relief. 

But the Rangers' powerful bats fell flat, relegating them to the loss column for the first time since the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

"We're facing Major League pitching, so it's going to happen occasionally," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Story of the game. The bats were quiet. We got the pitching. Monty, nice job. Bullpen, nice job. 

“We just couldn't mount anything, hardly, offensively."

Though the Rangers exited Oakland with a series win -- their first on the road since they took two of three from the White Sox from June 19-21 -- falling short of the three-game sweep may feel like a missed opportunity as Texas battles for the American League West crown down the stretch.

The first-place Rangers hold a 2 1/2-game lead in the division over the Astros pending their result in Wednesday night's clash against the AL East-leading Orioles.

Montgomery, who was packaged with Stratton in a Deadline swap with the Cardinals, has had a solid beginning to his Rangers career. In his first two starts with Texas, the 30-year-old left-hander has combined to allow four runs across 12 innings.

Just as in his Rangers debut on Friday, Montgomery had to work around a fair amount of traffic against the A’s, allowing seven hits and a walk.

"Definitely a grindy game," Montgomery said. "You give up seven hits like that, I feel like I had runners on every inning but the first. It was kind of an uphill battle every inning, but I made pitches when I needed to and did my best."

But Montgomery held the A's to a pair of runs -- one manufactured by Esteury Ruiz's prowess on the basepaths in the third inning, and the other a homer by Zack Gelof in the sixth.

"[Montgomery] did a really nice job," Bochy said. "He really could have come out of that with one run, and Sam [Huff] was a little bit off on the throwing end. But I thought he pitched very well."

Though Montgomery's efforts kept the game within reach, the Rangers could not get anything going at the plate. They mustered up just four hits and only managed two runners in scoring position: Josh H. Smith, who doubled to lead off the third inning, and Huff, who hit the first of back-to-back two-out singles against A's closer Trevor May in the ninth.

Though the Rangers have shown an ability to step up when their superstars are down, there's no doubt that a trio of lineup stalwarts were sorely missed. The finale loss marked the 10th time Texas was held to four hits or fewer and the eighth time it was shut out this season.

Three of the team's six 2023 All-Stars -- catcher Jonah Heim, third baseman Josh Jung and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi -- are on the injured list, and the Rangers were down another one with shortstop Corey Seager unavailable on a scheduled off-day. 

"I mean, that's what you have to deal with," Bochy said of the injuries. "We've been doing a pretty good job of it, but today, like I said, it was a tough go for us."

There was some good news on the injury front: Heim is ahead of schedule as he rehabs from a left wrist tendon strain and will face live hitting during the weekend series in San Francisco, swinging only from the left side. 

Bochy said Heim could possibly return early in the Rangers' upcoming homestand, which begins on Monday against the Angels.

Jung underwent a successful operation to stabilize the fracture in his left thumb on Wednesday. His timeline remains at roughly six weeks, but his expected return before the end of the regular season is a cause for optimism.

"I think you adjust to where they're at and how they're feeling," Bochy said before the finale. "You never know how a guy's going to come off an injury. Some take longer than others, depending on the injury. I'm sure we'll be talking about this with Josh Jung."

Until then, the Rangers will have to continue to find ways to step up.