Texas Rangers

Rangers still on record pace midway after 8-5 loss as Detroit's Torkelson homers twice

Texas Rangers pitcher Cody Bradford (61) delivers a pitch in the top of the second inning in a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, June 29, 2023.
AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe

The Texas Rangers and their quartet of All-Star starters are still on track to win their most games ever, even after reaching the midpoint of their first season for manager Bruce Bochy with a loss.

Spencer Torkelson homered twice and Andy Ibañez had the go-ahead RBI single for the Detroit Tigers, who won 8-5 on Thursday for a split in the four-game series. Even after losing five of their last nine games, the AL West-leading Rangers (49-32) are on pace for a 98-win season.

“I think you have to be pretty excited when you look at the first half. Granted, yeah, we haven’t quite played as well, clicked offensively as consistent as we have been, but we’re in a good place,” said Bochy, who won three World Series titles with San Francisco. “I like where we're at.”

Not long after the game, Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Corey Seager, rookie third baseman Josh Jung and switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim were announced as American League starters, as selected by fans, for the All-Star Game in Seattle on July 11.

In the series finale, Ezequiel Durán homered in his third straight game and Leody Taveras also went deep for the Rangers. They haven’t had a winning season since 2016, the season of their last division title, and have never won more than 96 games.

“We have a ton of guys having great years, pitchers throwing the ball well. The coaching staff works extremely hard,” Semien said. “There’s a lot of good things going on right now. So, it makes it fun to come to the ballpark every single day.”

Next up is a four-game series at home against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros.

Ibañez, who began his career with the Texas the past two seasons, broke a 3-3 tie as all four batters that faced reliever Joe Barlow (1-1) to start the seventh inning reached base. John King got out of that jam with a strikeout and a double-play grounder, but gave up Torkelson's second homer an inning later.

After yet another Tigers pitcher got hurt, Torkelson put them up 3-2 with his one-out solo shot in the fifth that chased Texas rookie starter Cody Bradford, who had a career-high eight strikeouts and walked three. Torkelson's three-run shot in the eighth, which made it 8-3, was his 11th homer of the season. It was his first career multihomer game.

Mason Englert (4-2), the fourth of seven Detroit pitchers, allowed a run pitching the sixth.

Detroit starter Reese Olson exited in the second inning after a comebacker off his left knee. It was the second time in the series that Detroit's starter was knocked out early because of an injury. Matthew Boyd will have season-ending elbow reconstruction surgery after leaving the series opener Monday after only 15 pitches.

Olson was struck by a sharp one-hopper off the bat of Josh Smith, with the ball then ricocheting into foul territory. The right-hander immediately dropped to the ground and grabbed his left leg, though he was able to get up and gingerly walk to the dugout. The team said X-rays were negative and he had a bruised knee.

Detroit already has 10 pitchers on the injury list, and half of them have started games this season.

TEXAS ALL-STARS

The Rangers are the first team with at least four elected All-Star starters since 2016, when the Chicago Cubs had five NL starters and the Boston Red Sox had four AL starters. The previous record for Texas starters was three. Slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton, third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Mike Napoli started in 2012, when the Rangers were coming off their only two World Series appearances. That was also the last time they had a starter in an All-Star game.

RESTING SEAGER

Seager got what Bochy said was a “needed” day off. Seager, hitting .345 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 49 games, had started 38 consecutive games since his return from the injured list May 17 after missing 31 games because of a left hamstring strain. ... Heim also got a day off with the Rangers in a stretch of 30 games in 31 days going into the All-Star break.

BACK DOWN

The Tigers optioned LHP Joey Wentz (1-9, 6.78 ERA) to Triple-A Toledo, a day after he allowed six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Rangers. “It’s been a grueling stretch for him, but there’s been some good mixed in,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve got to get him right and get him more effective.”

UP NEXT

The Tigers stay on the road, going to Colorado for the first time since 2017 on Friday night for the opener of a three-game series.

Only some standing-room only tickets remain for the Astros series that starts Friday night.

Copyright Associated Press
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