Mike Foltynewicz has shown glimpses of who he could be throughout the season, but he seems to be hitting a stride, at the very least, with his last two starts. He did so again, delivering seven efficient innings in the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Mariners Saturday night at T-Mobile Field.
The Rangers’ struggling offense on this road trip desperately needed another solid outing from a starter, which Folty delivered. It wasn’t seven scoreless innings like his start against the Astros last week, but he yielded two runs on six hits while striking out two and walking one.
Foltynewicz’s fastball velocity was consistently between 95 and 97 mph, which is something that’s been an emphasis for him and the pitching staff all season.
“He didn't have a ton of punchouts, but it just shows you how good his stuff is by how he's getting weak contact,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “He's worked really hard at that and you can see the results. I think honestly the conviction that you're starting to see tonight was indicative of that.”
J.P. Crawford’s go-ahead solo homer in the seventh was the first home run surrendered by Foltynewicz since May 7, when Crawford homered off of him at Globe Life Field. Foltynewicz said the pitch, which was changeup inside the zone, was the exact one, down to the location, that he threw that day in Arlington and Crawford was able to hop on it again.
In his last two starts, Foltynewicz has given up nine hits, two runs and three walks with four strikeouts through 14 innings.
Woodward, who described Foltynewicz as a “high strung guy,” said the right-hander has simply become more consistent on the mound.
Foltynewicz described his early starts this season as him trying to be too cute with his pitches. It was like he was trying too hard to hit the corners of the zone instead of simply attacking the hitters.
“Sometimes when you get in a groove, you think you can hit the zone like that,” Foltynewicz said. “Sometimes it's just not the case. I’m just going to go out there and just be aggressive and use the whole plate instead of just trying to hit that perfect corner.”
Between every start, Woodward said Foltynewicz is talking with the pitching staff and looking at the things he needs to do to get better, whether it's a little tweak here and there to sharpen a fastball, or changing entire grips.
Foltynewicz thinks of himself as coachable. It’s something that’s helped him in 2021, as he tinkers with little things about his process every week.
“I mean this is a game of adjustments, literally,” Foltynewicz said. “And with all the technology we have, it would be silly not to try to tinker with grips every time and try things and get it better. I am a big tinkerer. And if something doesn't work for me I'll throw it out, you know whatever, but some sticks. I'll definitely keep working on it and getting it better.”
But despite Foltynewicz putting the Rangers in a position to win the game, the offense was quiet once again, only getting four hits, three of which came from Adolis García. Nick Solak drove in both runs on sacrifice flies, though he had an 0-for-2 night.
The Rangers have been outscored 31-17 five games into the nine-game road trip.
“We’ve got to, we got to get better,” Woodward said. “I mean it's just the bottom line. Offensively we’ve just got to. I think I get frustrated when we get exposed by the same things over and over -- individually speaking, and as a team. Those are things that we’ve got to improve on and apply a little bit more pressure throughout a game.”