Jung's two homers not enough to prevail in slugfest

May 3rd, 2023

ARLINGTON -- is never satisfied. 

Even after being named the American League Rookie of the Month on Wednesday morning, his immediate thought was that his April still could’ve been better. He could’ve cut down on his strikeouts. He could’ve made more consistent contact. 

“It doesn't really mean a whole lot because the season is what? Six months long?” he said before Wednesday afternoon’s game against the D-backs. “So it’s just one month. It’s one month and it's just about finding a way to be impactful every single day, throughout the rest of the season. I guess not being satisfied is a better way to say it.”

And he was as impactful as possible on Wednesday, when the Rangers' rookie third baseman launched two homers in the club’s 12-7 loss to the D-backs to close out the homestand. It was his second multihomer game of the season, but also like the first time against Cincinnati, a late bullpen meltdown blew the lead that Jung’s homer handed the club. 

“I’ll take it. We'll take it,” Jung said of his performance in the loss. “I wish we could have come out with the win, but it’s OK. It's just one of those things where there's gonna be ups and downs for both sides of the ball.

"That's just the way it goes. As an offense, we’ve just got to be relentless and continue to put up runs regardless of what's going on on the pitching side. They're doing their job. It just doesn't go our way sometimes. That's just baseball.”

It was a back-and-forth affair between the two clubs, with both combining for seven home runs. There's no doubt Jung and the offense did their job. Both of Jung’s homers went 400-plus feet to the second deck of Globe Life Field’s left field stands, while Leody Taveras and Jonah Heim each added big 400-plus foot shots of their own. 

After falling behind 3-1 early and then 6-2 later in the game, Texas battled back to put up a five-spot in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by Jung’s second home run of the day.

“You just hate to waste an offensive outburst like that, especially a good comeback,” said Rangers manager Bruce Bochy. “We were down pretty good and then had the five-run inning to give us a one-run lead. You just hate to lose those.”

Five Rangers pitchers combined to walk seven batters in the loss, four of which came from starter Andrew Heaney, who walked the leadoff batter three separate times. Two of those leadoff walks were to the nine-hole hitter -- Jose Herrera -- who scored both times on homers from the batters behind him.

Heaney went just 4 ⅔ innings, having allowed six runs on four hits and four walks. 

“It's just frustrating because I feel like the way our guys are swinging it, we feel like we're in any game,” Heaney said. “Obviously, they've done such a great job and it’s on the pitchers to go out there and attack, keep the damage to a minimum, keep the game moving and give us a chance to score.

"Those guys are doing an unbelievable job. It's just frustrating for me to feel like that's a situation where I just need to keep the game close and allow them to do what they do. I wasn’t able to do that today.”
Two of the other walks came from José Leclerc, who didn’t throw a strike until the ninth pitch of his outing, as he continued to struggle with the command, an issue that has plagued him for his last few appearances out of the bullpen.

In 10 relief innings this season, Leclerc has given up five hits and nine walks. Six of those walks have come in his last four outings, one of which was the walk-off loss in Cincinnati.

“I think you have to be a little bit [concerned],” Bochy said. “You pull for the kid so hard, but he’s just had trouble finding the strike zone. The last time he was out, he looked like he was coming along. But today, it just got away from him. He's had some tough outings this year.

"He’s gonna be a big part of this [bullpen]. We’ve gotta get him right. We'll talk about it and see what we can do to help him out. He, obviously, has gotten derailed here.”