SEATTLE -- The Rangers are playing out this year’s schedule with an eye on next season, and Josh Jung is going to be a big part of whatever happens in 2023.
Jung apparently doesn’t feel like waiting until next spring to make a statement, however. The rookie third baseman accounted for all of Texas' offense Tuesday night in a 5-0 win over the Mariners. It was the first win in Rangers history in which a single player posted five or more RBIs to account for all of the club's runs.
He went 3-for-4 with two home runs and played some slick defense as Texas took the opener of this three-game series at T-Mobile Park.
“You see glimpses of what he can do for you, offensively and defensively,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “It’s good to see that. Looking ahead, you have that type of potential in the lineup. He's got power ... really, to all fields.”
Jung, the team’s top-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, didn’t make his Major League debut until Sept. 9. He started off well, becoming the first Ranger to log five extra-base hits in his first six big league games before understandably cooling off.
In fact, his two hits on Sunday against Cleveland snapped an 0-for-19 skid. But whatever he discovered in that game carried over on the flight to Seattle ... in a big way.
Jung, 24, stepped in against Mariners starter Robbie Ray, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, for his first at-bat in a scoreless tie in the top of the second inning with one out. Jung turned on a 93.7 mph fastball and demolished it, sending it 419 feet off the façade of the upper deck in right field at 108.3 mph for his fourth homer of the year.
In the sixth inning, Jung punched a line-drive single to right field off Ray to score Marcus Semien and give Texas a 2-0 lead.
And in the top of the eighth, with one out and two on, Jung greeted reliever Diego Castillo with a three-run homer on his second pitch, sending it 424 feet to center field at 105.5 mph off the bat.
Now, he’s got five big flies and nine more games on the regular-season schedule to see what he can do to continue to energize a Rangers fan base looking for positives to take into the offseason.
“I think [accounting for all five runs], that's just how it happened tonight, but the team put me in those situations,” Jung said. “I just took a good couple swings and hit the ball out of the yard. I got a hanging slider the second time, and the first time, I think it was just a 3-2 heater and [I] connected, finally.”
It’s no secret that the Rangers will be searching for starting pitching this offeason. Beasley confirmed as much prior to Tuesday’s game, saying that shoring up the rotation was a definite priority for executive vice president and general manager Chris Young.
On Tuesday night, the Rangers were pressed into using an opener because of season-ending hip surgery to the game’s originally slotted starter, Dane Dunning. Beasley said he only wanted two innings out of reliever Jesus Tinoco, and he got two brilliant innings. Tinoco didn’t give up a hit and reached 97 mph with his fastball while striking out two and walking one.
Meanwhile, left-hander Tyson Miller -- who was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to move into Dunning’s spot on the roster -- was fantastic, too. Miller held the Mariners scoreless for 3 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits. One was a single off the bat of Ty France to lead off the fourth inning, and the other was a back-to-back single that Mitch Haniger grounded against the shift to right field.
Miller shut down the looming threat right there, though, striking out Eugenio Suárez, getting Cal Raleigh to fly out to right field and then punching out Carlos Santana to escape the inning unscathed.
Relievers Dennis Santana, Matt Moore, Jonathan Hernández and closer José Leclerc combined to keep Seattle off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
“We did a good job tonight,” Beasley said. “We got through six and were able to hand the ball off to the three guys that we rely on to finish games for us. We got through it, so it was a good night for us.”
One concern that crept up in the game was the health of Corey Seager, who left the game after being hit on the inner left elbow by a 92 mph sinker from Mariners reliever Matthew Boyd in the top of the eighth inning.
After the game, Beasley said there were no fractures and that Seager was day to day with a forearm contusion.