Consistent woes against M's continue in opener

August 13th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- Josh Sborz was 14 pitches and two flyouts into his first MLB start Friday when he was hit by a 100 mph line drive off the bat of Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger. Sborz ended up finishing off the inning, but that play signaled a series of unfortunate events in the Rangers’ 6-2 loss at Globe Life Field.

The Rangers have struggled against the Mariners all season. Texas is 2-12 against Seattle in 2022 and on a nine-game losing streak against its AL West foe. The last time the Mariners played in Texas, they swept the Rangers in four games while on a historic winning streak, before turning around to sweep them again in three games at home after the All-Star Break.

“They’ve just done more to win. Plan and simple,” Brad Miller said about Texas’ struggles against Seattle. “It could be one phase of the game a different day. That’s just kind of how baseball is. They’ve just beat us.”

The nine-game skid against the Mariners is the Rangers' longest losing streak against Seattle, and is tied for their longest single-season losing streak against a single opponent since 2014 against the Angels.

Let’s take a look at a few key points in the loss:

Pitching woes
After Sborz took that comebacker off his right arm, he induced a groundout to end the inning. Taylor Hearn replaced Sborz to start the second and gave up one run before ending up in a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

“He’s a pretty tough kid. He took it like a champ,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said about Sborz. “We’ll have to wait and see tomorrow [how he’s doing]. It’s sore … It’s not the best place to get hit, especially when you throw with your right arm.”

José Leclerc took over from there, and quickly found himself in a familiar situation: two outs, bases loaded, with Julio Rodríguez up to bat. The last time he faced Rodríguez under those circumstances, Seattle's rookie sensation hit a grand slam to center field.

This time around, Leclerc gave up a two-run single to Rodríguez, the only hit the right-hander surrendered in 2 1/3 innings of work. Texas’ defense also wasn’t ideal overall considering how little margin for error there was against a team in contention for the playoffs.

“It was a lot of little things. We’ve been focused on most of those things a lot lately, but we’ve got to play clean,” Woodward said. “That’s something that needs to be part of our identity.”

Woodward ejected
Woodward was ejected by home plate umpire Jerry Meals in the fourth inning for arguing a called strike on Adolis García. It was Woodward's first ejection of the season, and the Rangers’ second in three series as first base coach ​​Corey Ragsdale’s was ejected during the White Sox series last week.

Woodward said arguing like that with an umpire isn’t something he’d usually do, but he felt the calls leading up to that were “egregious.”

“I know it’s not easy back there. Those pitches weren’t that far. They’re close,” Woodward said. “The missed calls cost us some runs. Pretty significant calls there.”

Unlucky hits
The Rangers registered some hard hits in the loss. Some were deep flyouts and one ended up turning an unlikely double play, but they ultimately weren’t able to produce against Mariners pitcher ​​George Kirby.

All of the nine hits the Rangers managed off Kirby were singles, marking the first time this season the club has recorded nine-plus hits without an extra-base hit. Texas struck out 12 times and left seven runners on base.

“He’s had our number, a little bit. We can’t quite figure him out,” Woodward said. “I feel like we got some pitches in the middle of the plate, we just didn’t do much with them.”