Rangers close the book on 'low-energy' week

April 26th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Sometimes it’s just not your day. Sometimes it’s not your week. And, well, it has not been the Rangers’ week.

The three-game set against the Reds concluded on Wednesday with the Rangers falling, 5-3, capped off by a walk-off homer from Nick Senzel. Texas was swept for the first time this season at the hands of a Cincinnati team that entered the series on a six-game losing streak.

Rangers starter said he felt like it was just a “low-energy” week for the team, and they need to get back to being themselves going forward.

“It was a tough series, and there's no getting around it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “And it’s one you really wanted to get. We got nicked up. So this one where we’ve got to head home and reset here right now and get back to our game … there's nothing to be concerned about. We’ve got a lot of baseball left. These guys will bounce back. We will have to play our best ball but no one is concerned and we will continue to get better.”

Here are three takeaways from this week’s rough series in Cincinnati:

Bullpen looks rough
It’s the story of the series. The Rangers’ bullpen, which was more than serviceable in the first two weeks of the season, regressed tenfold against the Reds. All three games ended with the Reds taking a lead in the eighth inning or later, including two walk-offs.

Through the first two games of the series, Texas relievers allowed a combined eight runs on seven hits, six walks and a hit by pitch. On Wednesday, things looked to be going better before the ninth inning, when allowed an infield single and the walk-off homer.

Bochy said he hasn’t seen anything dramatically different in the bullpen from the first few weeks of the season to now, but the consistency has faltered more than ever.

“It’s a nine-inning game,” Bochy said. “We're playing good baseball. We have to get everything a little bit more consistent. Maybe [the bullpen] has made a few more mistakes. But you’re gonna have those moments. Trust me, they're not fun, but it’s gonna happen. You have to make sure it doesn’t happen for very long. This is gonna be a good bullpen, I really believe, though, I really believe it.”

When it rains it pours -- injuries
If three heartbreaking losses weren’t enough, Texas had bad luck elsewhere in Cincinnati.

The Rangers' offense has been the one thing clicking all series, but in Wednesday’s series finale, two important pieces of the lineup went down with injuries in and . That adds to previous losses of Corey Seager and Mitch Garver, both of whom are still weeks away from returning.

Jung and Jankowski have been major contributors early this season. In a part-time role, Jankowski was hitting .340 with a .862 OPS this season, while the rookie Jung was slashing .281/.333/.494 in the heart of the lineup.

Both Bochy and Jung were optimistic that his hand contusion wouldn’t keep him out long term, but the club is still evaluating Jankowski.

“He's one of our guys,” Bochy said of Jung. “And that's the last thing we need to lose right now with Corey out. So there’s good news on that end and we'll go day to day with him. I'm sure he's gonna be sore tomorrow, but hopefully in two or three days, we'll have him back.”

Starters stay strong
Gray wasn’t perfect in the loss on Wednesday, allowing three runs in six innings, but he struck out two to become the 43rd active MLB pitcher with 1,000 strikeouts.

“It felt like a battle early on for me,” Gray said. “I had a little trouble locating early on, but as the game went on, it got better. It stinks to me that it was a little too late, but I'm glad that we hung in there and fought back at the end. But obviously not the couple of days we wanted.”

Despite the sweep, Martín Pérez and Nathan Eovaldi left their respective games with a multi-run lead before turning it over the bullpen, while Gray kept it close with a 3-2 deficit. The starting pitching could’ve been better, but the rotation consistently put the Rangers in a position to win, and they did not take advantage.

“We’ve really just got to be positive,” Gray said. “Series like these, you're going to have them every now and then. But we know how good we are, and it's time to start playing like that.”