Rangers' 15-run outburst dampened by Langford injury

May 5th, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- The Rangers waited all April for the bats of 2023 to return to form, but on the night the offense erupted to life, Texas’ injury-plagued season struck again.

The Rangers set season highs in runs and hits (17) en route to a 15-4 victory over the Royals on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. But , Texas' No. 1 prospect, exited the game early with right hamstring tightness in the fifth inning and is slated to undergo an MRI exam on Sunday.

But the Rangers, who have proven injuries won’t derail the club early this season -- no matter how extensive the list continues to grow -- only tacked on more runs late. Travis Jankowski, who replaced Langford in the fifth, ended his night with two RBIs and two runs scored.

“That’s just [general manager Chris Young] doing his job,” Jankowski said. “... No team goes through a healthy season. Hopefully it’s nothing serious for Wyatt, just some tightness and a day or two, but whatever it is, we are going to be the next man up. We did it last year, and we’re going to do it again this year.”

The Rangers have five starting pitchers (Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, Tyler Mahle and Cody Bradford) and their starting third baseman (Josh Jung) on the IL, but one player that has actually returned from the injured list is , who finished with a season-high four hits and two RBIs to spark his club out of a lull.

Texas had been limited to two or fewer runs in three of its past seven games, and although the overall team statistics aren’t concerning -- it entered Saturday above league average in homers (T-14th), batting average (seventh) and RBIs (T-11th) -- the Rangers aren’t quite off to the same blistering start as when they hit the cover off of the ball in 2023.

That changed Saturday night. The Rangers crushed 14 balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher and became the first team to hang double digits on the Royals this season.

“I think that’s this offense regaining its identity this year,” Lowe said. “We obviously have a lot of pieces from last year [back], but we are not entirely the same so we are going to have to manufacture runs however we can. If we are going to score 15 without hitting the ball out of the yard, that’s the plan we are going to have to go with.”

Jankowski added: “We were due for a breakout game. The offense came together as a unit.”

Texas led or tied the American League lead in home runs (233) hits (1,470), RBIs (845) and walks (599) a season ago, and although Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was confident the production would return after Texas’ latest one-run game Friday, he admitted the high-octane offense has been hit or miss.

“I think it’s fair to say we aren’t where we were last year at this time,” Bochy said postgame Friday. “... You got to find a way to be consistent, as far as putting runs on the board. It’s going to happen, I’ve said that, but right now it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster ride.”

The Rangers reached that peak Saturday night with 10 different players notching hits and eight driving in runs. Evan Carter (two hits, two RBIs), Marcus Semien (two hits, RBI), Jonah Heim (two hits, two walks) and Leody Taveras (two hits, RBI) helped wipe the previous game out of mind.

“That’s what you have to do,” Bochy said. “You have to bounce back. It’s all about being resilient in this game. We talk about it so much, and this club does a good job of it, and we need it.

“It’s good to see everybody do something tonight to help the cause. … I think it was good for all of them, for their confidence. We have been up and down, but it was nice to break out and hopefully this will let us on a nice roll.”

It feels like the Rangers have been waiting to break out since Opening Day, but the club, which has never dipped below .500 under Bochy, has still found a way to navigate the season's first month and change without skipping a beat.

Texas will get healthier, that’s a given, but it still needs all the wins it can get before it’s fully reloaded for another playoff push in a few months. And there is at least one man who isn’t satisfied with Saturday’s offensive eruption.

“I got new season highs to set now,” Lowe said. “I’m three weeks late to the party so I have to get going.”