Rangers show bright spots in 9th-inning defeat

Lynn hits 200 K's and Calhoun stays hot with HR, but Leclerc takes loss

August 30th, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will have to take the good with the bad as they go down the final stretch of the regular season with a mix of inexperienced young players and veterans.

Texas is hoping that the good will outweigh the bad each night, but that wasn’t the case in a 5-3 loss to the Mariners on Thursday at Globe Life Park.

“I hope it’s all good,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “But I think it’s important that we address some of these little things that keep us from winning games. Today, more defensive-related.”

Here is a breakdown of some good and bad from Thursday's game:

Good: didn’t feel great coming out of his bullpen warmup before the game, but he still managed to hold Seattle to three runs (one earned) over six innings. He also struck out Kyle Seager in the third inning for his 200th punchout of the season and finished with a new career-high 202, which represent the 10th most in club history.

Bad: All three of Lynn's runs came in the second inning. Seager led off with a line-drive single, then Lynn walked Daniel Vogelbach with one out and Jake Fraley reached on a bloop single to load the bases. Lynn then hit Dylan Moore with a 3-0 pitch to force in a run, marking the first time that the righty has hit a batter with the bases loaded in his career.

Dee Gordon hit a grounder that shortstop Danny Santana fielded and stepped on second for the force. But his potential inning-ending relay to Forsythe was dropped and two unearned runs scored. Lynn is now winless in his past five starts.

“Whenever you lose a game, it’s always frustrating,” Lynn said. “No loss is fun.”

Good: Rookie left-hander Brett Martin took over in the seventh in a 3-3 game and pitched two scoreless innings. Martin has established himself as the Rangers' primary lefty specialist and has a 3.38 ERA over his past 10 outings.

“Couple of weeks ago, I was struggling mechanically,” Martin said. “I was searching and searching instead of going back to trusting myself and having confidence. No matter the situation, I have to go out there and trust myself.”

Bad: Closer Jose Leclerc gave up two go-ahead runs in the ninth and took his fourth loss, to go with his four blown saves. The righty allowed a leadoff single to Dee Gordon, then fell behind Mallix Smith, 2-0, when Smith attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Gordon then stole second and Smith walked.

J.P. Crawford followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third, and Austin Nola put the Mariners ahead with a sacrifice fly to center field. After Kyle Seager drew a walk, Omar Narvaez blooped a single to left to score Smith as an insurance run.

Good: Willie Calhoun hit his 16th homer in the first inning, and he's now hit .306 and slugged .613 in his past 16 games, with six homers.

“For me, just knowing going to the field every day you’re playing, you’re comfortable,” Calhoun said. “That’s the biggest thing. Not thinking you have to get four hits every day to play the next day. “

Bad: Rougned Odor was 0-for-3 and is now hitless in his past 28 at-bats. But Odor isn't the only Rangers hitter struggling. Danny Santana is hitting .145 in his past 13 games, with 23 strikeouts in 55 at-bats. Over a longer stretch, Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .199 in his past 40 games.

“If we are not going to get anything going offensively and slug the ball out of the ballpark, we have to come up with ways to create runs rather than hit home runs,” Woodward said. “We should do that all the time, but right now it’s important to take that mindset.”

Good: Nick Solak was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and has reached base in 10 straight games to start his Major League career. That’s the longest such streak in club history.

Bad: Solak started the game in the cleanup spot, becoming the club's first rookie to do so in his first 10 games since Pete Incaviglia did so in 1986. The Rangers hit Solak cleanup because they are missing Joey Gallo, Hunter Pence and Nomar Mazara -- all of whom are on the injured list.

“Those are our 3-4-5 guys,” Woodward said. “So, you are putting guys in situations where I probably wouldn’t if we had those guys in the lineup. I like to see what these guys can do when you put them in those spots. It’s a challenge for those guys. I have no problem putting Solak there. I like his bat quality.”