Friday, June 2, 2023

MLB Preview: Texas Rangers (29-17) at Pittsburgh Pirates (24-22)


WINS AND LOSSES: Texas completed a sweep of the Rockies yesterday, 13-3, as club finished a 6-G, 7-day homestand by going 4-2 vs. ATL (1-2) and COL (3-0)…TEX has won 3 straight, 4 of 5, 5 of 7, 8 of 11 and 11 of last 15 G…TEX is an A.L.-best 15-6 (.714) in last 21 G beg. 4/28, 2nd-highest win pct. in MLB in that span (LAD is 16-6, .727)…TEX is 15-10 in last 25 G, but still 22-12 in last 34 G and 25-13 in last 38 G beg. 4/9…club has 6 different win streaks of 3+ G in 2023 (season-best 4-0 both 4/16-19 and 4/28-5/2)…team totaled 7 wins streaks of 3+ G in all of 2022.

  • At 29-17 (.630), TEX owns the 3rd-best record in A.L. and T3rd-best in MLB (see chart)…club’s 29 wins rank T3rd in A.L./MLB (34-TB, 31-BAL, 29–TEX/ATL/LAD/NYY).
  • The 29-17 start marks Rangers’ best 46-G start to a season since 1998 (30-16), and is T2nd-best start in club history.
  • TEX is a season-high 12 G above .500 for the 1st time since the end of 2016 (95-67), and May 21 is earliest date in a season to be 12-over since 2013 (May 15)…from 2020-22, TEX spent a total of one day above .500 (10-9 on 8/15/20).

Win Pct. Team W-L
.708 Tampa Bay 34-14
.660 Baltimore 31-16
.630 Texas/Atlanta 29-17
.604 Los Angeles-NL 29-19

STANDINGS: Rangers hold a 2.0-game lead in the A.L. West for a 5th straight day over 2nd-place HOU…have had a lead of 2-or-more games in the division for 14 straight days (last +1.0 GA on 5/6)…TEX has had sole possession of 1st place in the West for 16 straight, 23 of 24, and 36 of the last 38 days beg. 4/14…season-best +4.0-G lead on 5/14 was largest since end of 2016 (+9.0 GA), just 6th season in TEX history to have a lead of 4.0+ G in the West as early as 5/14…TEX has been alone or tied atop the division for 51 of the season’s first 52 days (exception: 4/8).

SERIES STUFF: By completing a 3 G sweep against the Rockies yesterday, TEX has won all games of a series for a 3rd time this campaign (3-0, 3/30-4/2 vs. PHI; 3-0, 4/17-19 at KC; 3-0, 5/19-21 vs. COL)…club has gone 5-1-1 in last 7 series and 9-2-1 in last 12…team is 10-4-1 overall in series this year, going 6-2-1 at home 4-2-0 on the road…club did not win a 10th series in 2022 until 7/8-10 vs. MIN…TEX won 4 straight series 4/10-23, longest such span since going 5-0-0 from 6/15-7/1/18…TEX is now 4-1-1 in last 6 series at Globe Life Field.

ON THE ROAD: TEX tonight begins a 9-G, 10-day road trip that takes the team thru the end of May…it marks the Rangers’ 2nd-consecutive 3-city road trip (7-3 from 5/5-14 at LAA/ SEA/OAK), and the 2nd of a trio of 3-city trips in 2023 (also 8/21-30 at ARI/MIN/NYM)…club has won 3 consecutive road series for 1st time since 6/9-25/17 at WAS/HOU/NYY…team has won 4 of 5 and 7 of 9 on road after a season-long 4-G away losing skid…club is 13-9 (.591) on road, 3rd-best away win pct. in A.L., 4th in MLB…the only time that TEX has been swept this season came on a 3-day trip to CIN from 4/24-26.

VS. PITTSBURGH: The Rangers are 13-9 all-time vs. Pittsburgh, including a 5-3 record at PNC Park…only previous visits to Pittsburgh came in 2002, 2007 and 2019…TEX was 10-2 in 1st 12 meetings (winning 1st 6-consecutive matchups), but are 3-7 vs. Pirates since 2013.

  • TEX is 9-8 in Interleague play in 2023, winning 4 of last 5 G…are 1-5 on the road vs. N.L. after going 1-2 at CHC (4/7-9) and 0-3 at CIN (4/24-26).

LIGHTING IT UP: TEX leads MLB w/ 6.46 R/G and 297 R… yesterday was club’s MLB-leading 12th game with 10+ runs in ’23, just the 7th time in the Modern Era (beg. 1901) for a team to post at least 12 G with 10+ runs within its first 46 G of a campaign: 13-1930 Brooklyn Robins/1901 Baltimore Orioles/1901 Chicago White Sox, 12-2023 Texas Rangers/2000 Colorado Rockies/1936 New York Yankees/1901 St. Louis Cardinals…TEX’s also leads MLB with 14 inn. of 5+ runs.

  • Club’s 31 runs scored this past series vs. COL marked the team’s most in any 3-game set since 8/31-9/2/18 vs. MIN (32 R) and the most-ever in a 3-game series at Globe Life Field.
  • The 297 runs scored by TEX this season are the 2nd-most over the first 46 G of a season in franchise history (301-1998)…the last ML club with 295+ R over its 1st 46 G of a season? 2000 St. Louis Cardinals (307).

THAT’S WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT: TEX posted wins by 5, 6 and 10 runs in recent 3 G series vs. COL…club’s 15 wins by 5+ R this year lead MLB…the 15 such wins are already 2nd-most for TEX in the past 4 seasons and just 4 shy of last year’s total: 15-2023, 19-2022, 13-2021, 3-2020.

  • The Rangers’ season-best +108 run differential ranks 2nd in MLB (TB is +124), and is the club’s best figure at any point in any season since finishing 2012 at +101.

SEAGER TO IMPRESS: Corey Seager has batted .438 (7-16) with 2 HR, 3 2B, and 8 RBI in 4 G since being activated from the 10-day Injured List on Wed., starting 2 G apiece at SS and DH…Seager has posted consecutive games with 3 H, the 1st Ranger to do so since Marcus Semien on 9/12-13/22 (also 2 straight 3-hit G)…his 8 RBI since being activated lead the A.L. and rank T1st in MLB (also NYM’s Pete Alonso, but in 5 G played during that span).

DANE IS ON THE CASE: Dane Dunning enters tonight’s start with a 4-0 record and a 1.69 ERA (7 ER/37.1 IP) in 11 G/3 GS this season, with his season ERA being the 2nd-lowest in MLB among pitchers with 35+ IP (1.64-MIN’s Sonny Gray)…Dunning also has the 2nd-most innings (37.1) of any MLB pitcher without allowing a HR in 2023 (49.1 IP – MIN’s Sonny Gray)…since sliding into the rotation on 5/5, Dunning owns a 2-0 record with a 1.59 ERA (3 ER/17.0 IP) in 3 starts.

  • Dunning’s 1st outing vs. PIT came in his 4th career game/ start with the White Sox on 9/9/20 at PNC Park, accounting for his 1st Major League win.

UPDATES: Mitch Garver and Travis Jankowski are expected to begin injury rehabilitation assignments with Round Rock tomorrow when they play in Albuquerque…Garver has been out since 4/10 (retro to 4/9) with a mild left knee sprain, missing 38 games…Jankowski has been out since 5/9 (retro. to 5/8) with a right hamstring strain, missing 13 games so far.

SHORTS: Yesterday was the Rangers’ 6th straight win in a day game, as team leads MLB with a .765 win pct. in such contests…TEX owns a 3-3 record on Monday games and an 8-7 record in series openers…Rangers’ MLB-high .339 BA w/ RISP is 48 points higher than the next-closest team
(BOS-.291)…Marcus Semien is tied for the A.L. lead with 18 multi-hit games this season (also TOR’s Bichette)…Andrew Heaney has gone 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA (4 ER/18.2 IP) over his last 3 starts, cutting his season ERA from 5.52 to 4.13… TEX starters have now allowed 3-or-fewer runs in 5 straight starts, as rotation’s 2.59 ERA (24 ER/83.1 IP) over last 13 G beg. 5/8 ranks 1st in A.L. and 3rd in MLB.

(4-0, 1.69)

TONIGHT: The 28-year-old right-hander is scheduled to make his 12th appearance/4th start of the season in tonight’s road trip opener in Pittsburgh…has made 3 starts this month since moving to the rotation after Jacob deGrom went on the IL: 2-0, 1.59 (3 ER/17.0 IP) w/ 2 BB/12 SO…Dunning’s 1.69 ERA for the season is 2nd-lowest in MLB among pitchers with 35+ IP (1.64-MIN’s Sonny Gray)…has 2nd-most innings (37.1) of any MLB pitcher without allowing a HR in 2023 (49.1 IP – MIN’s Sonny Gray)…among A.L. pitchers with 35+ IP this season, ranks among leaders in ERA (2nd, 1.69), opp. BA (6th, .195), and GB pct. (8th, 51.4%)…earned win in last start on Tues. va. ATL (see below), the Rangers’ only win in that series…ranks among staff leaders in wins (T3rd, 4), innings (5th, 37.1), and strikeouts (6th, 23)…has yet to allow a HR in ‘23 and is scoreless in 6 of 11 G…began season with 18.0 scoreless innings…established career highs in many categories last season, ranking 2nd on the Texas staff in starts (29), innings (153.1), and strikeouts (137)…missed time in 2022 for a pair of IL stints: 7/11-25/22 (right ankle impingement) and 9/27/22-end of season (right hip surgery)…had season-ending surgery on 9/26/22 for a right hip labral repair, with the surgery performed by Dr. William Robertson in Arlington…has gone 13- 18 with a 4.14 ERA for Rangers over the last 3 seasons (2021-23) since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a 3-player trade involving RHP Lance Lynn on 12/8/20…pitched 3 seasons at the University of Florida, helping the Gators to College World Series appearances in both 2015 and 2016…is a native of the Jacksonville, Fla. area…Texas is 2-1 in Dunning’s 3 starts in 2023.

LAST START: Earned win in last start on Tues. vs. ATL (W, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R-ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 92 pitches/60 strikes) in a 7-4 Texas victory, Rangers’ lone win in the series against the Braves…season-high 92 pitches…permitted baserunners in each of 1st 5 innings, but only run allowed came in 2nd inning on a Orlando Arcia 2-out single…Arcia also doubled in the 4th inn., only XBH against Dunning on the night…induced GIDP from Sean Murphy to end threat in the 5th inning.

VS. PITTSBURGH: Only outing vs. PIT came in his 4th career game/start with the White Sox on 9/9/20 at PNC Park, accounting for his 1st ML win (W, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO, 78 pitches/51 strikes)…game was played in an empty stadium in the pandemic season…came out for the 7th and permitted a leadoff double to Colin Moran, as Gio Gonzalez entered in relief…Sox won 8-1 behind a pair of HR from C James McCann.

  • Has gone 4-1, 3.52 (21 ER/53.2 IP) over 12 G/9 GS in his career in Interleague play, incl. 1-0, 2.45 (3 ER/11.0 IP) over 4 G/1 GS in 2023…is 4-1, 3.51 (19 ER/48.2 IP) in 9 starts vs. N.L. clubs, quality starts in 4 of last 5 starts…his win over the Pirates is the lone Interleague road win of his career.

AS A STARTER: Has gone 2-0, 1.59 (3 ER/17.0 IP) in his 3 starts for TEX in ‘23, spanning his last 3 outings, exiting all 3 starts with Texas holding a multi-run lead…made 8 straight relief app. to open the year, but a majority of Dunning’s Major League appearances (64 of 74) have come as a starter…he owns a lifetime 13-18 record and 4.29 ERA (152 ER/319.0 IP) in those 64 career starts, with opponents batting .260/.334/.412/.746 (318-1223)…he went 4-8, 4.46 ERA (76 ER/153.1 IP) in 29 starts for Texas in 2022, registering an A.L.-high 17 no-decisions…the 17 ND’s were T3rd-most in MLB and a WSH/TEX franchise record for a starting pitcher…Dunning’s 56 starts in a Rangers uniform over the last 3 seasons (beg. 2021) are tied for the most by a Ranger with LHP Martín Pérez (56 starts).

ON THE ROAD: Dunning earned the win in his last road app./start on 5/10 at SEA (6.0 IP, 2 R-ER), ending a span in which he had gone winless in 27 consecutive road starts with CWS and TEX, the 2nd-longest winless road span as a starter in modern era behind only COL’s Scott Elarton (29 from 2001-05)…only previous career road win as a starter was w/ CWS on 9/9/20 at PIT…the drought set a Texas franchise record, surpassing Pete Broberg in 1972-73 (15)…has performed well both on road (2-0, 1.89) and at home (2-0, 1.47) in ‘23, but fared better at home (4-2, 3.59, .232/.307/.421/.728 in 16 GS) than on the road (0-6, 5.62, .312/.390/.470/.860 in 13 GS) last season.

2023: Opponents have batted .195/.250/.241/.491 (26-133) with 6 extra-base hits (all doubles), incl. opp. BA’s of .172 (10-58) vs. LHB and .213 (16-75) vs. RHB…3 wins are T3rd-most on club (5-Eovaldi/Pérez, 4-Dunning/Gray)…20.1 relief innings still lead all Rangers (all in April)…has 3 relief app. of 3.0+ SHO IP, tied for most in MLB (also TB’s Josh Fleming)…earned win on 4/17 at KC (4.1 SHO IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 SO), as he and Jacob deGrom (4.0 SHO IP) became just the 2nd Rangers duo in the last 40 years (beg. 1984) to each have at least 4.0 SHO IP in the same game (also 5.0-Kameron Loe, 4.0-C.J. Wilson on 8/26/05 vs. MIN)…his win on 5/10 at SEA ended a span in which he had gone winless in 27 consecutive road starts with CWS and TEX, the 2nd-longest winless road span as a starter in modern era behind only COL’s Scott Elarton (29 from 2001-05).


THE PIRATES: lost two of three games against the Diamondbacks in their series this past weekend..Have lost back-to-back games since winning three of their previous four games…Won seven straight games from 4/17-23, their longest winning streak since 2018 (11 games)…Are 1.0 game out of first place in the National League Central behind the Brewers.

KEEPING UP WITH CUTCH’S MILESTONES: Andrew McCutchen comes into today just one hit shy of 1500 in his career as a member of the Pirates (he will become the 12th player in club history to reach that milestone)… McCutchen ranks 12th on the team’s all-time hits list coming into today…Roberto Clemente leads the way with 3000 hits while Tommy Leach is 11th (1603)… McCutchen is also 16 hits shy of 2000 and three doubles shy of 400 for his career.

ABOUT TONIGHT’S STARTER: Luis Ortiz will make this third start with the Pirates since being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on May 9…Ortiz entered this season rated as Pittsburgh’s No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America… Ortiz went 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA (32.1ip/8er), 11 walks allowed, 29 strikeouts, two home runs allowed, .174 batting average against and 0.96 WHIP in seven starts this season at Triple-A…At the time of his promotion to the big leagues, Ortiz ranked second in the International League in ERA and first in both batting average against and OPS.

ON Q: Righthander Quinn Priester tossed 5.0 scoreless innings yesterday in Indianapolis’ 5-1 win against Iowa…Priester is now 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA (24.0ip/3er), 19 strikeouts, 0.96 WHIP and .214 batting average against in four starts this month…Priester ranks second among all pitchers in MiLB in ERA this month with at least 21.0 innings pitched.

WINNING STARTS HERE: Pittsburgh’s starting pitching staff ranks first in the National League and third in all of MLB with nineteen…Tampa Bay’s starting pitching staff ranks first in MLB with 21 wins followed by the Rangers (20)…Last year Pittsburgh’s starting rotation won a total of 21 times for the entire season.

GETTING ON: Andrew McCutchen comes into today with an 11-game on-base streak, going 12-for-37 (.324) with a home run, four RBI, seven walks and .432 on-base percentage…McCutchen’s 11-game on-base streak is the fifth-longest by a Pirate this season…Jack Suwinski has the longest on-base streak by a Pirate this season (17 games from April 9-29).

AGAINST THE RANGERS: This is the first series between Texas and Pittsburgh since a two-game set at PNC Park from May 7-8, 2019…The Pirates have hosted the Rangers for just three series (eight games) since interleague play began in 1997.

THE RENEGADE: David Bednar worked a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday while lowering his ERA to 0.53, which is the lowest among National League relievers and ranks second in MLB behind Baltimore’s Yennier Cano (0.38)…Bednar also ranks third among all relievers in MLB in walks per 9.0 innings (0.53) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (22.00).

EARLY OFFENSE: The Pirates have scored 32 runs in the second inning this season, including one yesterday against Arizona…Pittsburgh’s 32 runs scored in the second inning are tied for the fourth-most in MLB along with the Nationals… The only three teams to score more runs in the second inning are the Braves (40), Rangers (36) and Red Sox (33).

THE OUTFIELD: Pittsburgh’s outfielders are tied for seventh in MLB, and second overall in the National League, with 78 RBI…The only six teams to have more RBI produced from their outfielders are the Rays (95), Red Sox (94), Rangers (94), Astros (85), Dodgers (82) and Mariners (79).

ON THE MEND: Right-handed pitcher Vince Velasquez scattered four hits over 4.2 scoreless innings in his first rehab start in game one of Indianapolis’ doubleheader Saturday vs. Iowa…He threw a total of 63 pitches (42 strikes) in the game… Velasquez has been on the 15-day injured list since May 5 with right elbow inflammation.

COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH: The Pirates rank fifth in all of MLB with a .281 batting average with runners in scoring position…The only four teams to record a higher batting average with runners in scoring position are the Rangers (.339), Red Sox (.291), Cardinals (.284) and Rockies (.282).

AGAINST THE AL WEST: Tonight is the first of six straight games for the Pirates against teams from the American League West…The Bucs will also visit Seattle for just the fourth time in interleague play this upcoming weekend…Pittsburgh’s only other series against the AL West this season came against Houston from April 10-12.

LUIS ORTIZ: The 24-year-old righthander will be making his third start of the season tonight after being promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis on 5/9…Allowed four runs (3er) in 3.0-plus innings while losing a 4-0 decision to Detroit’s Michael Lorenzen in his last start on Tuesday at Comerica Park…Struck out 138 batters in 134.1 innings between Indianapolis and Double-A Altoona in 2022… Entered 2023 as Pittsburgh’s No. 4 prospect by Baseball America.

vs. TEXAS: Has never faced the Rangers.

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