ARLINGTON -- At the midway point of the season, the Rangers are enjoying one of the best starts in franchise history at 49-32 following Thursday afternoon’s 8-5 loss to the Tigers at Globe Life Field.
It’s tied for the third best 81-game start to a campaign in Washington/Texas history behind only 2016 (52-29) and 2012 (50-31). Despite Thursday’s loss and a series split with the Tigers, the Rangers have still maintained a multi-game lead in the American League West, with the Astros and Angels on their heels.
“It's been fun to watch these guys,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Overall, you have to be excited about this team and how they're playing. These guys have just done a tremendous job. They’ve been through some injuries and tough losses, but they bounced back with a great job by them.”
Here are three observations from the halfway point of the season:
1) The kids are alright
In the loss on Thursday, the youth of the Rangers shined. The trio of Josh Jung, Leody Taveras and Ezequiel Duran combined to go 4-for-12, while accounting for three RBIs, which was all of Texas’ scoring output until the ninth inning.
After his fourth-inning homer, Duran has gone yard in a career-high three straight games, matching the longest streak by a Ranger this season (Adolis García). He added a single in the ninth, making it his fifth straight multi-hit game, also matching the longest streak by a Ranger this season (Corey Seager).
Taveras’ solo homer in the sixth inning was his ninth of the season and seventh in the month of June. In 51 games since the beginning of May, Taveras has slashed .323/.368/.527, giving the Rangers more than enough depth at the bottom of the lineup.
“It's gonna be vital that those guys continue to play like they're playing,” Bochy said. “They're part of our core group. To be honest, what Duran’s been doing, what Jung has been doing, it's just good to see that energy and the talent that they have. They just compete so well. So it's been a lot of fun to watch their progress as the season has gone, and they'll continue to play well. I have so much confidence in those guys.”
2) Bradford provides serviceable depth, but the Rangers still need more
Rangers No. 26 prospect Cody Bradford made his third spot start of the season, giving the rotation an extra day of rest going into the four-game set with Houston this weekend. The young lefty went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, while striking out a career-high eight batters.
While he didn’t factor into the decision of the game, Bradford provided meaningful innings for the Rangers, who will no doubt still attempt to add more depth in the rotation at the Deadline.
“I know some guys might say it's difficult, but I know my role here,” Bradford said of the up and down between the Minors and big leagues this season. “And I know it's to fill innings when the team needs me. So from my perspective, my job doesn't change, it's to go out there and throw strikes -- that’s who I am, a strike thrower -- and just get outs.”
3) Offense is back?
After a rough stretch of games in which the Rangers offense went cold during a series loss in New York and dropping the first game against Detroit, the club seemed re-energized to close out the series.
Despite going just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, Rangers batters combined for 12 hits, tied for most in any loss in 2023 (done five times). It was the club’s MLB-leading 44th game with double-digit hits this season, as every Texas starter reached base at least once.
The Rangers are still one of the best offensive teams in baseball, as they’re slashing .274/.343/.459 with an AL-best .802 OPS on the season.
“I think you have to be pretty excited, I think, when you look at the first half,” Bochy said. “Granted, you know, we haven't quite played as well, clicking offensively as consistently as we had been, but we're in a good place. … I like where we're at.”