Saturday, June 22, 2024
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MLB Preview: Texas Rangers (81-64) at Toronto Blue Jays (80-66)


WINS AND LOSSES: Texas defeated Toronto last night, 10-0, as club is now assured of a series win against the Blue Jays as they continue this 7-G, 7-day road trip through TOR (3-0 + 1 G) and CLE (3 G)…team is riding a 5-G winning streak, longest since a season high 8-G streak to begin August (8/1- 8)…5 straight wins come after snapping a 4-G losing skid on Sat…club is 6-4 in last 10 G and 6-7 in last 13 G after winning 3 of previous 4 contests from 8/26-29…club is 9-16 (.360) in last 25 G beg. 8/16, 5th-lowest win pct. in MLB over that span (KC-.269, 7-19; COL-.280, 7-18; CWS-.308, 8-18; LAA-.346, 9-17)…the 9-16 span began with a season-long 8-G losing streak from 8/16-25, 2nd-longest for Texas since start of ’22 (0-9, 8/27-9/5/22)…club has 81 wins, most since 2016 (95 wins), and a 13-win improvement over 2022 (68)…team has dropped 17 of 28 and is 13-18 since a season-best 8-G win streak (8/1-8), longest for club since going 10-0, 5/9-19/17… have gone 23-25 in last 48 G since a 6-G win streak (7/14-19) out of the break…team is 29-25 (.537) in the 2nd “half”, 7thbest record in the A.L…TEX is 30-27 in last 57 , 31-31 in last 62 G, and 32-33 in last 65 G…team was also 12-19 over a 31-G span from 6/7-7/9 to end the 1st “half”. At 81-64 (.559), TEX has the 4th-best record in the A.L., T6th-best in MLB…81 wins rank T4th in A.L./T6th in MLB. The 81-64 mark is T7th-best 145-G start to a season in Washington/Texas franchise history (beg. 1961), and club’s best 145-G start since 2016 (86-59).

WITH A WIN TONIGHT, Texas would: Win a 6th straight game for a 3rd time this season, first since a season high 8-G winning streak from 8/1-8 (also 6 G from 7/14-19)…TEX would tie BAL, BOS, and TB for most win streaks of 6+ wins in the A.L. this season. Win all games of a series of 4+ G for the 1st time in last 4 seasons (last 4-0, 9/5-8/19 at BAL). Take all games of a series for the 9th time in ’23 and 5th time since the AS break…would be 2nd undefeated road series in ’23: 3-0, 4/17-19 at KC…club did not go undefeated in any road series of 3+ G from 2020-22. Take all games of a series against the Blue Jays for the first time since 5/25-27/12 vs. TOR…it would mark the first sweep of TOR in a 4-G series since 7/8-11/93 at TOR. Win a 6th straight game vs. TOR for the first time since a 6-G win streak from 4/17/-7/30/05.

STANDINGS: The Rangers are in 2nd place in the A.L. West for the 2nd straight day, 1.0 GB of 1st place HOU…club has ascended 2.0 G in division race during current 5-G win streak…TEX was a season-high 3.0 GB for 5 straight days from 9/6-10…club was alone or tied atop the division for 148 of season’s 1st 149 days (3/30-8/26), with sole possession of 1st place for 111 consecutive days from 5/6-8/24…club held season-best 6.5-G lead in West after win on 6/23 at NYY. TEX currently sits alone in the 2nd in the A.L. Wild Card standings for the 2nd straight day, 0.5 GA of SEA and 1.5 GA of TOR…TEX has made the postseason as a Wild Card once in franchise history (2012 at 93-69).

SERIES STUFF: Rangers secured their 2nd straight series win after winning first 3 G here in TOR (also 2-1 vs. OAK, 9/8- 10)…took the series opener on Mon. for the first time in last 4 tries (last 8/28 at NYM), and their 2nd consecutive win in road series openers (4-2 record in last 6 road series openers)…prior to current 3-5-0 series span, club had a 5-0-0 stretch from 8/1-16 that was 2nd-best streak in 2023 (6-0-0, 5/19-6/7)… team is 27-18-2 overall in series in 2023: 14-8-2 at home;
13-10-0 on the road…TEX holds a 4-2-0 record in last 6 road series dating back to the beginning of August…club has taken all games of a series 8 times this season.

SHUT ‘EM DOWN: Jordan Montgomery (7.0 SHO IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 SO), Martín Pérez (1.0 SHO IP, 1 H), and Ian Kennedy (1.0 SHO IP, 1 SO) combined for the Rangers’ 11th shutout of 2023 yesterday, the team’s 1st blanking since a 12-0 win on 8/14 at LAA…TEX’s 10 SHO are 6th-most in the A.L. this season, and their 4 SHO since the beginning of August are T2nd-most in the A.L./T3rd in MLB. TEX’s 10-0 win yesterday was the largest shutout victory on the road since an 11-0 win on 5/9/17 at SD (11-0).

KING OF THE NORTH: After last night’s start, Jordan Montgomery stayed unbeaten (3-0) with a 2.42 ERA (7 ER/26.0 IP) in 5 G/4 GS in his career at Rogers Centre…it marked his 2nd scoreless app. in Toronto, tossing 6.0 SHO IP in his Rogers Centre debut on 6/3/17 w/ NYY…he owns a 5-1 record with a 3.54 ERA (24 ER/61.0 IP) in 12 G/11 GS in his career vs. TOR.

ROBBIE ROCKETS: Robbie Grossman launched his 10th HR of the season last night (90th of his career), marking his 3rd season with 10+ homers (also 23 HR in 2021 and 11 HR in 2016)…batting 3rd in the lineup for the 3rd time in the last 5 G, he has now homered 8 times in consecutive games for his career, first since 8/16-17/22 vs. NYM w/ ATL…the switch-hitter is riding a 4-G hitting streak (.462, 6-13) with 3 XBH and 7 RBI, while his .415 OBP (2nd), .321 BA (8th), and .557 SLG (9th) vs. LHP rank among A.L. qualified leaders in ’23. Grossman has reached base safely in 11 of his last 12 G (since 8/29) with a .333/.467/.606/1.073 (11-33) slash line.
HOMER HAPPY: Robbie Grossman last night became the 10th Ranger with 10-or-more HR this season, matching the club record for most individual players with 10+ HR in a single campaign (also 2019, 2004)…TEX is one of just 5 teams in MLB to have as many as 10 players reach double-digit HR totals in 2023 (11-MIN, 10-ATL/CIN/STL/TEX).

ON THE ROAD: TEX plays TOR (3-0 + 1 G) and CLE (3 G) during this 7-day, 7-game trip…team has won 5 of 7, but has lost 7 of 12, 11 of 20, 15 of 25, 17 of 28, 19 of 31, and 23 of last 39 away games…TEX has a 36-34 (.514) away record in ’23, 6th in the A.L…club began the year with a 19-11 road record and has gone 16-23 (.425) beg. 5/31.

VS. TORONTO: After TEX’s 3 wins vs. TOR in this series (plus taking 2 of 3 vs. TOR from 6/16-18 in Arlington), club is assured of winning the season series against TOR for the 1st time since 2012 (6-3)…TEX has dropped 8 of 15 and 13 of 24 since start of 2019…since start of 2007, Rangers are 23-33 at Rogers Centre, going 4-12-2 in 18 series here over that span (not including Buffalo in 2021).

OFF TO THE LAND: TEX will fly to CLE after tonight’s game to begin a 3-G series tomorrow…TEX is 3-0 vs. CLE this season after taking all games of the series at GLF from 7/14-16… TEX is assured of not losing a 5th straight season series vs. CLE (2017-19, 2021-22)…TEX’s 12-23 (.343) record vs. CLE since start of 2017 is 3rd-worst against any A.L. club over that span (11-26, .297 vs. BOS; 39-79, .331 vs. HOU).

SHORTS: Nathan Eovaldi will make his 3rd start tonight since returning from the 15-day IL on 9/5…he owns a 6-1 record with a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts on the road this season… Nathaniel Lowe’s 3-R HR in the 4th inning last night gave him a single season career high-77 RBI (prev. 76 in 2022) and snapped a 22-G homer-less streak dating back to 8/19… Mitch Garver last night slugged his 1st HR of the season in his 8th G while batting 4th in the order…TEX pitching staff has recorded a 2.40 ERA (12 ER/45.0 IP) during current 5-G winning streak…Chris Stratton’s 25.2 IP w/ TEX since 8/2 lead the Majors…Jonah Heim’s 84 RBI this season are 4thmost by a TEX catcher in franchise history (next is 3rd place Iván Rodríguez w/ 86 RBI in 1996)…TEX is 4-4 this season in games held on a Thursday

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHER – #17 Nathan Eovaldi, RHP (11-4, 2.90)

TONIGHT: The 33-year-old right-hander is scheduled to make his 22nd start of the season in tonight’s series finale…has gone 0-1, 9.82 (4 ER/3.2 IP) w/ 3 BB/4 SO over 2 G/GS since he was activated from the 15-day Injured List on 9/5…posted 2.1 SHO IP in last start on Sat. vs. OAK (ND, 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 47 pitches), an eventual 3-2 TEX victory that began club’s current 5-G win streak…continues to build up his workload after not doing a rehab assignment prior to his return…other outing since his return was start on 9/5 vs. HOU (L, 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R-ER)…the 2 starts mark his first game action since 7/18 vs. TB, as he was on the IL 7/27-9/4 w/ a right forearm strain…his club-high 11 wins are still T9th-most in the A.L., as he became just the 2nd TEX pitcher since ’13 to post 10+ wins prior to the All-Star break (11 by Lance Lynn in ’19)…this is the 3rd double-digit win season of his career (14-2015 w/ NYY, 11-2021 w/ BOS), as he has the 2nd-highest win total by any TEX pitcher since the start of ’20 (trailing only 12 wins by Martín Pérez in ’22)…logged a scoreless 2nd inn. for the A.L. in ’23 MLB All-Star Game in Seattle (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 SO), his 2nd career All-Star selection (also ’21)…is 10-2, 2.47 ERA (30 ER/109.1 IP) over his last 17 starts (beg. 4/18)… remains 1 of 3 A.L. pitchers with multiple CG in 2023, and his 2 CG’s this season are the most by a Ranger since Mike Minor in ’19 (also 2)…Eovaldi signed a 2-year free agent contract with the Rangers on 12/27/22…went 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA (47 ER/109.1 IP) over 20 G/GS in 2022 w// BOS…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 pitched for 6 teams in his career: LAD (2011-12), MIA (2012-14), NYY (2015-16), TB (2018), BOS (2018-22) and TEX (2023)…joins Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as the only graduates of Alvin (TX) High School to reach the Majors…TEX is 12-9 in Eovaldi’s 21 starts in this season.

STILL UP THERE: Eovaldi’s current ranks among A.L. pitchers (min. 125.0 IP): ERA (2nd, 2.90), H/9 (2nd, 7.00), HR/9 (2nd, 0.71), GIDP/9 (3rd, 1.20), opp. BA (4th, .217), GB pct. (4th, 52.0), opp. GIDP (T5th, 17), opp. OPS (6th, .640), BR/9 (6th, 9.90), FIP (7th, 3.59), WHIP (7th, 1.07), and wins (T9th, 11).

NASTY NATE: Has gone 11-4, 2.90 ERA in 21 GS this season…joined Lance Lynn as 2nd TEX pitcher since ’13 with 10+ wins prior to All-Star break (Lynn was 11-4 in ’19). Recorded 111 SO and just 34 BB in 1st 19 GS, the 4th pitcher in club history w/ 111+ SO’s and 34-or-less BB in his 1st 19 GS with the club (Jon Gray, ’22 – 116 SO, 34 BB; Lance Lynn, ’19 – 123 SO, 26 BB; Gaylord Perry, ’75 – 115 SO, 29 BB). Over 16 starts from 4/18-7/18: 10-1, 2.17 ERA (26 ER/108.0 IP), 92 SO/31 BB, .188 opp. BA (70-373)…became the first TEX pitcher to amass 9+ wins and post an ERA of 2.29-or-lower over a 15-start span since Cole Hamels from 6/7-8/25/16 (9-3, 2.17 ERA) 123.2 IP in 1st 19 GS were the most IP by a Ranger in 1st 19 GS of a season since Yu Darvish in ’14 (126.1 IP)…5.0+ IP in 1st 19 GS, most consecutive outings of 5.0+ IP by a Ranger to open a season since Darvish in ’13 (club record-tying 32 GS).

LAST START: Posted 2.1 SHO IP in last start on Sat. vs. OAK (ND, 2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, 47 pitches), an eventual 3-2 TEX victory that began club’s current 5-G win streak…despite just 5 H (and zero XBH), TEX offense scored twice in the 6th and the decisive run on a wild pitch in the 8th to find the win column after having lost 4 straight and 7 of previous 8.

VS. TORONTO: Has gone 1-3, 5.23 (37 ER/63.2 IP) over 12 G/11 GS in career vs. TOR, including 0-1, 7.53 (12 ER/14.1 IP) in 3 G/GS for BOS in 2022…is 0-2, 6.35 (16 ER/22.2 IP) in 4 G/GS at Rogers Centre, but had quality start in last outing here on 4/25/22 (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R-ER).

ON THE ROAD: Has seen better results in 11 starts on the road (6-1, 2.76 ERA) than in 10 starts at GLF (5-3, 3.07 ERA)…has not made a road start since 7/6 at BOS, his return to Fenway Park, when he took ND in Rangers’ 10-6 loss…has won 6 straight decisions on the road since taking loss in 1st road outing 4/7 at CHC, but is 1-0, 5.49 (14 ER/23.1 IP) last 4 away starts since beg. of June, raising road ERA from 1.49 to 2.76.


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays were limited to five singles and a walk as they were blanked, 10-0, by the Rangers last night…Were shut out for the 9th time this season (T-15th in MLB)…Have lost the first three games of this series and are now 27-18-2 in series play for the year (13-9-1 at home)…Need a win tonight to avoid being swept for the 5th time this season…Were last swept in a four-game series from May 1-4 at BOS earlier this year…Have not been swept in a four-game series At home since May 21-24, 2021 vs. TB while in playing at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, FL…Have not been swept in a four-game series at Rogers Centre since May 17-20, 2018 vs. OAK. Toronto has still won eight of its last 13 games, 13 of its last 23, and is 26-21 across its last 47…Enters today one game back of Seattle (81-65) for the 3rd AL Wild Card spot, while 1.5 games behind Texas who holds the 2nd AL Wild Card position.

ERN-ING IT: Ernie Clement singled in the 3rd inning and then again in the 7th inning last night…Finished the game 2-for-3 for his 5th multi-hit effort on the year…Has now gone 19-for-49 (.388) with a double, a triple, a homer and 10 RBI in his 28 Major League games this season…His .388 batting average through his first 28 games as a Blue Jay is the highest in franchise history (min. 50 PA).

SANTI KEEPS SWINGING: Santiago Espinal recorded singles in the 2nd and 7th innings last night as part of a 2-for-3 effort…Marked his 9th multi-hit game of the season, four of which have come in his last 13 contests…Over those 13 games (since Aug. 29), is batting .452 (14-for-31) with four doubles and six RBI (1.049 OPS).

VLAD HABITS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled in his 1st at-bat and finished 1-for-3 last night…Has reached base safely in 25 of his last 28 games while batting .257 (28-for-109) with four doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI, and 12 walks…Has recorded an AL-leading 233 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season (2nd: Julio Rodríguez – 231).

THE D-JAYS: According to Sports Info Solutions, Toronto fielders have recorded a total of 82 Defensive Runs Saved, the most in the Majors…The group is led by an MLB-high 32 runs saved in center field, 14 more than any other team (PHI – 18)…Among all MLB fielders, Daulton Varsho ranks 1st with 27 runs saved (2nd: Fernando Tatis – 24)…Varsho leads all center fielders with 17 DRS while his 10 DRS in left are 3rd most…Alejandro Kirk ranks 2nd for the most runs saved by a catcher (14).

TEN DAYS AT THE DOME: The Blue Jays are in the midst of a 10-day, 10-game homestand (3-3 so far)…Have gone 38-33 this season at Rogers Centre…The .535 win% at home ranks 6th in the AL…After this four-game set with the Rangers, will welcome in the Red Sox (73-72) for three dates over the weekend. Toronto batters rank 5th in the AL in home OBP (.327), 6th in home AVG (.252), 9th in home OPS (.730), and 11th in home SLG (.403)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with 3.63 home ERA (1st: SEA – 3.37), while sitting 3rd with a .228 home opponents’ average and 4th with a 1.20 home WHIP.

ALL GAUS, NO BRAKES: Kevin Gausman gets the ball tonight, aiming for a 12th win…Is coming off 8.0 innings of one-run ball while fanning 10 batters…Was his AL- West 8th start with double-digit punchouts and his 3rd outing of 8.0 frames…Leads the AL with 217 strikeouts (2nd: Pablo López – 213), behind only Spencer Strider 259) for the MLB lead…Currently leads the Majors with a 2.83 FIP and tops all AL pitchers with a 5.2 fWAR.

PITCHING IN: Toronto pitchers have combined for a 3.78 ERA this season, behind only Seattle (3.71) for the MLB lead… The 3.78 ERA is currently 6th best in team history and the club’s best since 2008 (3.49)…Have recorded 1,363 strikeouts, trailing only Atlanta (1,387) and Minnesota (1,370) for the most in MLB…Rank 5th in the AL in opponents’ batting average (.240) and 5th in WHIP (1.24)…The rotation has recorded 64 quality starts, 4th most in the AL (T-6th in MLB).

RISP-Y BUSINESS: The Blue Jays have gone 43-for-117 (.368) with runners in scoring position across their last 13 games, including 12 extra-base hits and 51 RBI (.447 OBP, .925 OPS)…Since the calendar flipped to August, the Blue Jays sport an AL-best .323 batting average (102-for-316) with RISP…Have raised their season RISP average to .260, 6th best among AL clubs, and two points higher than last season’s mark (.258 in 2022).

HITTING IT: Toronto batters have notched 1,295 hits this season, 4th most in the AL (5th in MLB)…Are 3rd in the junior circuit in team OBP (.331), 4th in AVG (.259), 6th in OPS (.750), and 9th in SLG (.418).

VS. THE RANGERS: All-Time: 227-221
2023: 1-5 Home: 128-92
Home: 0-3 Rogers Centre: 78-68

The Blue Jays dropped two of three games when they met the Rangers in Texas in June…Went 4-2 against them last season, taking two of the three games here at Rogers Centre…Need a win tonight to avoid being swept at home in a four-game series by the Rangers for the first time July 8-11, 1993.

Bo Bichette went 3-for-12 (.250) on three doubles while driving in two runs during the three games in Texas earlier this year…Is a career 25-for-87 (.287) with nine doubles, a triple, four home runs, and 13 RBI across 21 meetings (.870 OPS).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. picked up three hits to go with an RBI and a pair of walks in Texas in June…Over 24 career matchups, has batted .275 (25-for-91) with five doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI (.802 OPS).

George Springer leads all current Blue Jays with 112 career contests vs. the Rangers…Has gone 119-for447 (.266) with 16 doubles, one triple, 28 home runs, and 67 RBI for an .849 OPS.

STARTING PITCHER – Kevin Gausman, RHP #34

TODAY’S GAME: Making his 29th start of the season and his 15th at Rogers Centre…Picked up his 11th win of the year his last time out, on 9/9 vs. KC, throwing 8.0 frames of one-run ball with 2 hits, a walk, and 10 strikeouts…Was his AL-leading 8th start with double-digit strikeouts. His 217 strikeouts are the most in the AL (Pablo López – 213), and are the 3rd most ever by a Blue Jay in their first 28 outings of a season (Roger Clemens – 237 in 1997, Robbie Ray – 220 in 2021). Owns a 2.79 FIP since the start of the 2020 season, the best mark among qualified hurlers (2nd: Corbin Burnes – 2.86).

2023 HIGHLIGHTS: Earned his 10th win of the year on 8/28 vs. WAS, giving up 3 runs over 5.0 innings (7H, 2BB, 7K)…Became the 3rd pitcher in team history with backto-back 200-strikeout seasons, joining Roger Clemens (1997-1998) and Roy Halladay (2008-2009). Tossed 6.0 frames of 2-run ball on 8/23 at BAL, giving up 5 hits and a walk with 8 strikeouts…Was his 17th quality start of the year. Named an All-Star for the 2nd time in his career (also: 2021). Took the loss on 6/27 vs. SF, tossing 6.0 frames of one-run ball with 3 hits, a walk, and 12 strikeouts…Fanned LaMonte Wade Jr. in the 4th inning to reach 1,500 career strikeouts, becoming the 21st active player to reach the mark…Was his MLB-leading 7th double-digit strikeout game of 2023. Pitched 7.0 frames of one-run ball on 6/6 vs. HOU, scattering 4 hits with no walks and a career-high-tying 13 strikeouts (also: 13K on 4/29/23 vs. SEA)…Became the 4th player (8th time) in franchise history to punch out at least 13 batters without any walks in a single game (last: José Berríos on 7/12/22 vs. PHI). Tossed 7.0 shutout innings on 4/29 vs. SEA, giving up 5 hits with a walk and a career-high 13 strikeouts…Threw a then season-high 108 pitches (74 strikes) while inducing a career-high 28 swing-and-misses…Got 20 whiffs on his splitter alone, the most on a single pitch in the Majors this season, and the most on a splitter in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Took a no-decision on 4/12 vs. DET, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits over a season-high 8.0 innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts, his most as a Blue Jay…Surrendered a solo home run to Nick Maton with one out in the 4th inning, ending his streak of 15.1 innings without allowing an earned run, the longest stretch to begin a season in franchise history (2nd: Matt Shoemaker – 14.0 IP in 2019).

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Set career-best marks in 2021 innings pitched (192.0), wins (14), quality starts (20), ERA (2.81), strikeouts (227), opponents’ AVG (.210), and WHIP (1.04). Named an All-Star for the 1st time in his career in 2021 and finished 6th in NL Cy Young voting…Signed a 5-year deal with Toronto on 12/1/21. Selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

VS. THE RANGERS: Facing the Rangers for the 2nd time this season and the 11th time in his career (10th start)…Met Texas on 6/16 in Arlington, tossing 6.0 frames of one-run ball (4H, 2BB, 4K)…Over his last 6 meetings (5 starts) with the Rangers, has been on the winning side each time while posting a 2.84 ERA (12 ER/38.0 IP) with 9 walks and 41 strikeouts.

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