ARLINGTON -- Josh Jung wasn’t thinking much of anything when he fielded the sharp grounder down the third-base line in the sixth inning. Everything happened so fast, he couldn’t even process it.
“[I was] just thinking, ‘Get rid of it,’” Jung said. “'Get it out of my hands, and if it happens, it happens.'”
With the Angels having stationed runners at first and second, “it” was a potential triple play, the first Jung would ever be part of. So he got rid of the ball as quickly as possible, stepping on third with his right food and firing an off-balance throw to second baseman Marcus Semien.
“When [Magneuris Sierra] was out at second and Marcus got rid of it, I knew we had a chance,” Jung said.
The play stopped the bleeding in the Angels’ three-run sixth inning, in which they retook a lead that they never gave back as Texas fell, 5-2, at Globe Life Field.
“It was in a big spot when we got it,” Jung said. “I think they'd scored a couple of runs. Marcus had a great turn at second, and we knew [batter Max Stassi] wasn’t a burner down the line. [Sierra] was pretty quick, so I just had to get rid of it. But Marcus did a hell of a job turning it, it was pretty cool.”
Big spot or not, the Rangers' infield -- which has been criticized for its subpar defense throughout the season -- turned the triple play like it was routine. Stassi was out at first by a step thanks to the precision of both Jung and Semien.
“[The ground ball to Jung] was in a perfect spot,” said interim manager Tony Beasley. “It led [Jung] to the base. He just had to step to second and turn it. It was probably one of the easiest-looking triple plays that I’ve ever seen. Usually the third out at first base is bang-bang. This wasn’t even close. It was an impressive play, and to see it come about like that, it bailed us out of the inning, too.”
The triple play may have stopped the bleeding, but not before the Rangers had already run into trouble. Semien tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, but the three-run sixth from the Angels ultimately put the contest out of reach.
While the lefty did surrender seven hits, he notably did not walk a batter for the first time in his young big league career.
“I’m just trying to go at guys and make them hit the ball,” Ragans said. “Walks hurt me, obviously. I’ve learned that from experience earlier in the year. … In the second inning, when I gave up a couple of runs, I slowed my pace down and everything got a little slow. We got back in the dugout and talked about it so I was like, ‘All right, let's speed it up. When they get in the box, I'm ready to go.’ So that helped out. Just picking up my pace helps everything else out with my mechanics and just going at them.”