Thursday, April 25, 2024
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MLB Preview: Texas Rangers (29-18) at Pittsburgh Pirates (25-22)

TEXAS RANGERS NOTES:

WINS AND LOSSES: Texas dropped the series opener yesterday vs. Pittsburgh, 6-4, as club kicked off a 9-G, 10-day trip to PIT (0-1 + 2 G), BAL (3 G) and DET (3 G)…loss yesterday snapped team’s 6th different win streak 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…TEX has still won 4 of 6, 5 of 8, 8 of 12 and 11 of last 16 G…TEX is an A.L.-best 15-7 (.682) in last 22 G beg. 4/28, 2nd-highest win pct. in MLB in that span (LAD is 17-6, .739)…TEX is 15-11 in last 26 G, but still 22-13 in last 35 G and 25-14 in last 39 G beg. 4/9.

  • At 29-18 (.617), TEX owns 3rd-best record in A.L. and T3rdbest in MLB (see chart)…club’s 29 wins rank T3rd in A.L. and T4th in MLB (35-TB, 31-BAL, 30-LAD, 29-ATL/NYY/TEX).
  • The 29-18 start marks Rangers’ best 47-G start to a season since 2013 (30-17), and is T3rd-best start in club history.
  • TEX is back to 11 G above .500 for the 2nd time this season (also 28-17 on 5/20)…club was a season-high 12 G over after games on Sunday for the 1st time since the end of 2016 (95-67)…from 2020-22, TEX spent a total of one day above .500 (10-9 on 8/15/20).

BEST RECORDS IN MLB, 2023
Win Pct. Team W-L
.714 Tampa Bay 35-14
.660 Baltimore 31-16
.617 Texas/Atlanta 29-18
.612 Los Angeles-NL 30-19

STANDINGS: Rangers hold a 1.0-game lead in the A.L. West over 2nd-place HOU…it is the 1st time since 5/6 that the team holds a division lead of less than 2 games (14-consecutive days)…TEX has had sole possession of 1st place in the West for 17 straight, 24 of 25, and 37 of the last 39 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 52 of the season’s first 53 days (exception: 4/8).

SERIES STUFF: Club now owns a 4-4 record in series openers on the road in 2023 (8-8 overall)…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…team has won all games of a series 3 times during 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 is 5-2-0 in last 7 series on the road.

LONG ROAD: TEX last night dropped the 1st game of a 9-G, 10-day road trip that takes the team through 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 6 and 7 of 10 on road after a season-long 4-G away losing skid…club is 13-10 (.565) on road, T3rd-best away win pct. in A.L., T5th 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 13-10 all-time vs. Pittsburgh, including a 5-4 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 3-8 vs. Pirates since 2013.

  • TEX is 9-9 in Interleague play in 2023, winning 4 of last 6 G…team owns a 1-6 record on the road vs. N.L. (0-1 + 2 G at PIT, 5/22-24; 1-2 at CHC, 4/7-9; 0-3 at CIN, 4/24-26).

THE BATS ARE AWAKE: TEX leads MLB w/ 6.40 R/G and 301 R…team has 4+ runs in 11 of last 12 games, the most instances in a 12-G span by TEX offense since 12 straight from 7/30-8/12/17…club has 4+ R in 34 G this season, 2nd-most in MLB (35-TB)…TEX leads MLB w/ a .289 BA in May, and A.L.- high .811 OPS is 2nd in MLB, just behind ATL (higher .811)… club’s 123 R this month rank 2nd in MLB (127-STL).

  • The 301 runs scored by TEX in ’23 are the 2nd-most over the first 47 G of a season in franchise history (308-1998)… club leads MLB with 12 G of 10+ R and 14 innings of 5+ R.
  • TEX has MLB-high 4 players with 30+ RBI this season (49-García, 39-Semien, 32-Heim, 30-Jung) and is T1st in MLB (also LAD, TB) in players with 20+ RBI (7)…in ’22, just 10 Rangers ended the year with an RBI total of 20-or-more.

12-HIT ORIGINAL: Marcus Semien last night extended his hitting streak to a season high 12 games, which is currently tops in the Majors for active hitting streak…club now owns an MLB-best 4 of the 21 individual hit streaks of 12+ games in Majors in 2023: 4-TEX, 3-STL, 2-ARI/HOU/MIA.

  • Semien has hits in 18 of 19 G in May at .354/.429/.532/.960 (28-79), along with a 20 G on-base streak…has reached base via H/BB in 22-straight road games.
  • His A.L. ranks: R (1st, 43), H (2nd, 58), RBI (4th, 39), TB (T7th, 93) and BA (8th, .304).

DANE DEALING: Dane Dunning posted 5.2 IP last night in his 4th start of the season (ND, 6 H, 1 R-ER, 3 BB, 3 SO)… has now lasted at least 5.0 innings and allowed 2 R-or-less since moving from the bullpen to a starting role on 5/5…the effort dropped Dunning’s season ERA to 1.67, 2nd-lowest in MLB among pitchers with 43+ IP (1.64-MIN’s Sonny Gray)… also extended his streak of innings (43.0) without allowing a HR in 2023, good for 2nd-most in the Majors (49.1 IP – MIN’s Sonny Gray)…since sliding into the rotation, Dunning owns a 2-0 record with a 1.59 ERA (4 ER/22.2 IP) in 4 starts.

LEADER OF THE PACK: Josh Jung, who has hits in 6-straight games, went yard in the 9th inning last night to bring the Rangers back to within 2 runs of the Pirates…it was his 10th HR of the season, which now leads all MLB rookies, and also extends his record for HR as a third baseman by a TEX rookie (prev. 8, 3x, last Fernando Tatis in ‘97)…starting in 44 of 47 G this season, Jung’s current ranks among A.L. rookies: TB (1st, 83), R (1st, 31), RBI (1st, 30), XBH (1st, 17), SLG (2nd, .474), OPS (3rd, .786), H (3rd, 46) and BA (3rd).

  • Thanks to Jung’s HR: club now has a homer in 6 straight road games, matching the longest away run in 2023 (also 6 G, 4/16-25), and TEX now has 21 HR by players 25-and-younger in 2023, 4th-most in MLB (25-KC/STL, 24-TB, 21-TEX).

NATE THE GREAT: Nathan Eovaldi has posted quality starts in each of his last 6 outings (beg. 4/18), the longest QS streak by a Ranger since Martín Pérez from 4/23-6/5/22 (9 straight)…saw his MLB-leading scoreless innings streak end at 29.2 IP on Wed. vs. ATL, finishing T5th-longest in TEX history (also Jeff Zimmerman, 5/25-8/2/99) and longest by a Texas pitcher since Yovani Gallardo from 6/10-7/7/15 (33.1).

  • After going 1-2, 6.32 ERA (11 ER/15.2 IP) over his first 3 starts of the season, Eovaldi has gone 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA (8 ER/44.2 IP) since 4/18, cutting his season ERA from 6.32 to 2.83, 8th-lowest among qualified A.L. pitchers.

UPDATES: Mitch Garver and Travis Jankowski are expected to begin injury rehabilitation assignments with Round Rock tonight in Albuquerque…Garver is expected to play at DH and Jankowski in the OF…Jacob deGrom threw a bullpen yesterday, with manager Bruce Bochy noting that it went really well.

SHORTS: TEX bullpen has taken 10 of team’s last 13 losses…Adolis García notched his 6th OF assist, tied for the MLB lead with CIN’s Nick Castellanos…TEX starters have now allowed 3-or-fewer runs in 6 straight starts, as rotation’s 2.53 ERA (25 ER/89.0 IP) over last 14 G (beg. 5/8) ranks 1st in A.L. and 2nd in MLB (PIT-2.18 ERA over the same span).

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHER – #17 Nathan Eovaldi, RHP
(5-2, 2.83)

TONIGHT: The 33-year-old right-hander (pronounced ee-VAHL-dee) is scheduled to make his 10th appearance/start of the season in game 2 of 3 here in Pittsburgh…has 5.0+ IP in all 9 starts, allowing 3 ER-or-less in 8 of 9 outings…has made 6 straight quality starts (4-0, 1.61 ERA, 42 SO/7 BB) to drop season ERA from 6.32 to 2.83, 8th in A.L…has 7.0+ IP in each of his last 4 starts, the longest such streak by a Texas pitcher since Lance Lynn had 5 consecutive starts w/ 7.0+ IP from 6/17-7/11/19…ranks among A.L. qualifiers in HR/9 (2nd, 0.45), FIP (3rd, 2.46), BB/9 (4th, 1.49), wins (T4th, 5), SO/BB (5th, 6.10), IP (6th, 60.1)…will be working on 5 days’ rest after he did not factor into decision of Texas’ 5-6 loss on Wed. vs. ATL (see ‘Last Start’)…Eovaldi signed a 2-year free agent contract with the Rangers on 12/27/22…in 2022, his final season with Boston, went 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA (47 ER/109.1 IP) over 20 G/GS…was slowed by a pair of IL stints: 6/9-7/14 (low back inflammation) and 8/19-9/28 (right shoulder inflammation)… was an All-Star with the Red Sox in 2021 and finished 4th in A.L. Cy Young Award voting…his Red Sox stint also included a historic postseason stretch during the team’s 2018 World Series run…has 247 games/228 starts with LAD (2011-12), MIA (2012-14), NYY (2015-16), TB (2018), BOS (2018-22) and TEX (2023)… joined Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only graduates of Alvin (TX) High School to reach the Major Leagues…Texas is 5-4 in Eovaldi’s 9 starts this season.

STRONG START: Has struck out 61 of 233 (26.2%) batters faced while issuing just 10 walks in 2023, as his 1.49 BB per 9.0 innings figure ranks 4th among A.L. qualifiers…has allowed just 3 HR this season, and his 0.45 HR/9 mark is 2nd-lowest in A.L./4th-lowest in MLB…Eovaldi is the 1st pitcher in Washington/ Texas franchise history (beg. 1961) with 60+ SO, 10-or-fewer BB, and 3-or-fewer HR allowed in his first 9 outings of a season (Stathead)…additionally, he is just the 7th ML pitcher in the modern era (beg. 1901) to reach those parameters while also logging 60.0+ IP in his first 9 starts of a campaign (1st since NYM’s Noah Syndergaard in 2016: 60.1 IP, 76 SO/9 BB, 3 HR allowed).

LAST START: Will work on extra 5 days’ rest after he did not factor into the decision of Texas’ 5-6 loss on Wed. vs. ATL (ND, 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R-ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 HR, 93 pitches/60 strikes)…out-dueld Braves’ RHP Spencer Strider (5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R-ER), who surrendered a pair of HR to Adolis García…Eovaldi saw his MLB-leading 29.2 scoreless innings streak come to an end after allowing a 2-R HR to Eddie Rosario in the top of the 2nd inn. (see ‘Streaking’)…permitted season-high 2 HR to Rosario (2-run, 2nd inn.) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (solo, 6th inn.), accounting for 2 of the 3 total HR Eovaldi has allowed in ‘23…exited after the 7th with Texas leading 5-3, but was removed from the ledger after Atlanta plated 3 unanswered runs in the 8th (2) and 9th (1) frames to steal a series-clinching victory.

VS. PITTSBURGH / INTERLEAGUE: Tonight’s outing will be just his 3rd career app. (2nd start) against the Pirates and his 1st-ever app. at PNC Park…has not faced Pittsburgh since a start on 6/13/14 vs. PIT w/ MIA (ND, 4.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R-ER)…did not factor into the decision of Marlins’ 13-inning, 6-8 loss…surrendered a 1st-inning 2-run HR to Starling Marte…Andrew McCutchen batted 3rd and started in CF for the Buccos that day, going 2-for-7 (2-for-2 off Eovaldi)…only other outing opposite the Pirates came in a relief app. during his debut season on 9/17/11 vs. PIT w/ LAD (0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R)…allowed 8th-inn. 1B to McCutchen.

  • 4 of Eovaldi’s 9 starts this season have come against National League foes, and he is 1-1, 4.18 ERA (11 ER/23.2 IP) in those outings…since the start of the 2020 campaign, he is 4-1, 3.20 ERA (18 ER/50.2 IP) over 9 starts in Interleague play (all vs. N.L.), with his only loss in that span coming this season on 4/7 at CHC (5.2 IP, 2 R-ER).

ROAD DOG: Eovaldi has seen far better results this season in 5 starts on the road (3-1, 1.83 ERA) than in 4 starts at Globe Life Field (2-1, 4.15 ERA), ranking among ML road qualifiers in wins (T3rd), ERA (4th), innings (8th, 34.1), opp. OPS (8th, .549), WHIP (8th, 0.93), and strikeouts (T11th, 35)…is scoreless in his last 19.2 IP on the road dating back to start on 4/24 at CIN…opponents have batted .213/.254/.295/.549 (26-122) with 35 SO/6 BB and zero HR in his away outings this season, as he joins teammate Dane Dunning as one of 6 qualified ML pitchers that has yet to surrender a home run on the road in 2023.

  • Has compiled a 7-1 record and 2.34 ERA (24 ER/92.1 IP) over his last 15 away starts since beg. of 2022, ranking among ML pitchers (min. 15 road starts) across that span in win pct. (4th, .875), SO/BB ratio (4th, 6.93), and ERA (6th).

STREAKING: Posted career-best 29.2-inning scoreless streak from 4/24- 5/17, the longest scoreless streak in MLB this season and T5th-longest in Rangers history: 39.0-Kenny Rogers, 5/6-6/1/95; 36.0-Charlie Hough, 8/23- 9/14/83; 33.1-Yovani Gallardo, 6/10-7/7/15; 31.0-Rogers, 4/27-5/20/05; 29.2-Eovaldi, 4/24-5/17/23/Jeff Zimmerman, 5/25-8/2/99…marked the longest scoreless streak in MLB since ARI’s Zac Gallen had 44.1 SHO IP from 8/8-9/11/22.

  • Recorded 8.0+ SHO IP in 3 straight starts from 4/29-5/6, becoming just the 3rd pitcher in TEX history with 3 consecutive outings of at least 8.0 scoreless innings: Martín Pérez (3, 4/13-23/14) and Charlie Hough (3, 8/28-9/7/83)…Eovaldi also struck out 25 batters while issuing just 3 walks over that stretch, just the 6th pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to have a 3-start span with 25.0+ SHO IP, 25+ SO, and 3-or-fewer walks (credit: STATS)…he was the first MLB pitcher to pull the trick since LAD’s Clayton Kershaw from 7/8-23/15 (26.0 SHO IP, 38 SO, 0 BB), and joined WSH’s Walter Johnson (27.0 SHO IP, 25 SO, 3 BB from 4/19-30/1913) as the only A.L. pitchers to ever accomplish the feat.

2023: Opponents have batted .227/.263/.355/.617 (50-220) with 18 extra-base hits (3 HR, 4 3B, 11 2B), incl. opp. BA of .188 (19-101) vs. LHB and .261 (31-119) vs. RHB…has thrown an avg. of 96.9 pitches per outing (6th-highest among A.L. qualifiers), and has accounted for 3 of 5 G w/ 100+ pitches by TEX starters in ‘23 (3-Eovaldi, 1-Pérez/Gray)…ranks among A.L. qualifiers in HR/9 (2nd, 0.45), FIP (3rd, 2.46), BB/9 (4th, 1.49), wins (T4th, 5), SO/BB (5th, 6.10), IP (6th, 60.1)…. has exited with a lead in 6 straight and 7 of 9 starts in ‘23, as high 6.41 run support avg. ranks 8th among A.L. qualifiers…recorded career-high 12 strikeouts on 5/11 at OAK (8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 SO)…tossed 1st 9-inn. CG SHO of career on 4/29 vs. NYY (9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO), 1st CG SHO by a Ranger since Martín Pérez on 5/20/22 at HOU (9.0 SHO IP), and the 1st CG SHO ever thrown by a TEX pitcher at Globe Life Field…made Rangers debut in 16-3 Texas victory on 4/1 vs. PHI (W, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R-ER)…the Alvin, TX native became the 5th native Texan ever to earn a win in his TEX debut (last Kip Wells on 8/2/06 at MIN).

PITTSBURGH PIRATES NOTES:

THE PIRATES: Opened their three-game series against the Rangers with a 6-4 win Monday night…Are 2-2 on their current six-game homestand against Arizona and Texas…Won seven straight games from 4/17-23, their longest winning streak since 2018 (11 games)…Are tied for first place with Milwaukee in the National League Central coming into today.

SHORT HOPS: Last night Tucupita Marcano became the third-youngest shortstop in Pirates history to hit a grand slam at 23 years and 248 days old…The only two younger shortstops in Pirates history to hit a grand slam prior to Marcano were Arky Vaughan at 21 years and 53 days on May 1, 1933, and Dale Berra at 23 years, 171 days on June 1, 1980.

MARCANO OF LATE: Tucupita Marcano is hitting .333 (8-for-24) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in his last 10 games beginning with the action on May 10… Three of Marcano’s four hardest hit balls in 2023 have been hit in the last week beginning his single off Detroit’s Michael Lorenzen on May 16.

ONE OF ONE: Andrew McCutchen’s single leading off the home half of the first inning last night gave him 1500 hits as a member of the Pirates…McCutchen is the only player in Pirates history to record at least 1500 hits, 200 home runs and 175 stolen bases…McCutchen and Mike Trout are the only active players in MLB with at least 1500 hits, 200 home runs and 200 career stolen bases.

MAKE THAT A DOUBLE: Rich Hill gets the start tonight in his first outing since allowing just one hit in 6.0 innings in Pittsburgh’s 8-0 GO

WEST YOUNG BUCS:

4-12 NOTE: Rich Hill gets the start tonight in his first outing since allowing just one hit in 6.0 innings in Pittsburgh’s 8-0 shutout Wednesday against the Tigers at Comerica Park…Since April 12, Hill has gone 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA (38.1ip/10er) in his last seven starts…Hill’s 2.35 ERA since April 12 ranks seventh among National League pitchers behind Alex Cobb (1.79), Josiah Gray (1.98), Drew Smyly (1.99), Mitch Keller (2.00), Logan Webb (2.25) and Zac Gallen (2.28).

WINNING STARTS HERE: Pittsburgh’s starting pitching staff ranks first in the National League and third in all of MLB with 20 wins…Tampa Bay’s starting pitching staff ranks first in MLB with 22 wins followed by the Rangers (21)…Last year Pittsburgh’s starting rotation won a total of 21 times for the entire season…The starting rotation’s 3.68 ERA also ranks seventh in MLB and third in the National League behind the Braves (3.38) and Giants (3.55).

THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK: Austin Hedges enters today with the second-best catcher’s ERA (3.35) in MLB…The only backstop with a lower ERA is Houston’s Martin Maldonado (3.18)…Hedges has caught each of Pittsburgh’s last three shutouts, including Wednesday’s combined one-hitter by Rich Hill, Robert Stephenson, Jose Hernandez and Dauri Moreta.

RUN PIRATES RUN: The Pirates come into today tied for the Major League lead in stolen bases (53) along with the Tampa Bay Rays…Last night was the seventh time this season Pittsburgh swiped at least three bags in a game (the team had a season-high six stolen bases on April 26 against the Dodgers).

BAE, BAE, BAE: Ji Hwan Bae’s double in his first at-bat Monday night extended his current hitting streak to four games (6-for-17, .353)…Bae is also hitting at a .310 clip (18-for-58) in his last 16 starts…Coming into today, the 23-year-old Bae ranks first among all National League rookies in stolen bases (14), seventh in batting (.254) and sixth in hits (32).

GETTING ON: Andrew McCutchen comes into today with a 12-game on-base streak, going 14-for-42 (.333) with a home run, four RBI, seven walks and .429 on-base percentage…McCutchen’s 12-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).

CALL TO THE PEN: Colin Holderman has not allowed a run in each of his last six appearances (5.1ip) since being charged with the only loss of his big league career when he allowed three runs in 1.0 inning against the Dodgers on April 25… Holderman has struck out 10 batters in 4.1 innings of relief this month while allowing three hits in 16 at-bats.

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.

TODAY’S STARTING PITCHER – 44 – LHP RICH HILL
RICH HILL: The 43-year-old lefthander is making his 10th start this evening…Allowed one hit in 6.0 innings while earning the win in the team’s 8-0 shutout at Detroit on Wednesday.

vs. TEXAS: 3-0 with a 3.81 ERA (26.0ip/11er) in seven career appearances (five starts)…Went 1-0 in two starts last year…Earned his win last year on 5/14 at Texas after allowing three runs (2er) in 6.0 innings.

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