'Playing free,' Semien carries groove into July

July 2nd, 2022

NEW YORK -- Marcus Semien has admittedly made a living off of pull-side home runs. He’ll tell you that himself.

On Friday night, it was yet another pull-side shot -- his ninth home run of the season -- that put the Rangers on the board early against the Mets at Citi Field. It wasn’t enough to secure a win, as Texas fell 4-3 in the series opener, but it continued a notable hot streak for the second baseman, as well as his right-side infield partner Nathaniel Lowe.

Semien and Lowe were responsible for two of the Rangers’ runs against the Mets, with each launching a solo homer off Mets starter David Peterson. Semien also scored the Rangers' third run on an RBI grounder from Adolis García in the sixth.

It's even more significant considering where these two were a month ago. In May, Semien slashed just .233/.298/.320 with one home run, while Lowe’s line was .205/.262/.321 with two homers.

For Semien, he started to hit his stride in early June. After hitting just one home run in his first 44 games, he’s cracked eight in the 30 contests since. When asked if he’s becoming more comfortable at the plate in his first season with Texas, he shrugged it off, noting the ebbs and flows of baseball.

“I’ve played seven or eight years in the big leagues, I’m comfortable,” Semien said. “It's just a matter of execution now and knowing what they're doing to me, and making adjustments day by day and understanding when I feel good.”

In June, Semien was one of the Rangers' offensive standouts, as he slashed .287/.331/.519 and was third on the team with 15 RBIs.

“You can see he's having fun, he's playing free and he’s enjoying it out there,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “Obviously, he got some big hits today. The homer got us going, and he's using the whole field. There's a couple back-side singles; he got jammed and got a base hit. He’s got the power stroke to left field and he can really impact on the basepaths as well. It's the Marcus we were expecting.”

Semien’s hot streak is notable given the seven-year, $175 million deal he signed in free agency over the offseason, but Lowe’s contributions cannot be overstated since coming over from the Rays in a December 2020 deal.

When the Rangers made that trade, the front office made it known that they felt Lowe could be an everyday first baseman. There have been some high highs, but he’s also lacked consistency.

After a hot June in which Lowe slashed .307/.346/.564 with seven homers and 16 RBIs, Woodward hopes the first baseman can keep it going the rest of the season.

“I know he got off to a slow start,” Woodward said. “I don't know exactly what his numbers are month-to-month, but he's been impressive. Especially left-on-left, he's really established himself as an everyday player. A reliable at-bat in the lineup. It's just that he brings that same toughness in the at-bat, the power threat.

“They can bring in tough lefties and it doesn't seem to bother him, and looking at his left-hand numbers [.935 OPS vs. LHP], they’re ridiculous. He's got to be one of the best in baseball left-on-left with that consistency. It's what I asked him last year, and as he moves into this year, continue to improve on what he has done.”