The Texas Rangers stormed into town and dispatched the Blue Jays in the opening game of a big four-game series on Monday.
Although Texas has been in a major slump in recent weeks and Toronto has been on the rise, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the Rangers’ 10-4 win.
You wouldn’t have felt it was a big game either, as the smallest crowd (less than 24,000) of the season was in attendance to watch two teams battle it out for a wild card spot.
Texas opened a close game with five runs in the seventh inning – four of them on a grand slam from catcher Jonah Heim – and moved within half a game of Toronto with three games left in the series.
Jays starter Chris Bassitt has been on the rise, pitching eight innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk in each of his previous two games, but didn’t have the same success on Monday. Bassitt gave up nine hits and walked three in 5.1 innings of work, allowing five earned runs, the third-most he has given up this season. But things got even worse for the Jays when the bullpen took over. Although the Jays’ bullpen had a 3.53 ERA, third-best in baseball, and Texas had a 4.89 ERA (ranked 26th), Genesis Cabrera eased in relief of Bassitt and Chad Green, who struck out one in two-thirds of an inning Allow run. Cabrera, who has been sensational since taking over from St. Louis, allowing just one earned run, struck out three and allowed two hits, including Heim’s grand slam at 3-2.
“It’s a good team. “Good pitching, really good hitting,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider had warned about the Rangers in advance.
The pitching had struggled greatly, but not on Monday. Dane Dunning was solid, if unspectacular, in keeping a batter out into the seventh inning. The dunning only allowed one additional base hit
If you were looking for an ideal photo to describe this game, one of Charlie Sheen playing Wild Thing in the Major League would work. Bassitt fumbled in the first run of the series, the Jays walked seven Rangers on the night and Toronto even managed a run, thanks in part to a Dunning Wild pitch that set up a Cavan-Biggio sacrifice fly.
KEEP THE FAITH
Since improving to a season-high 24 games above .500 on Aug. 15, Texas was 6-16 heading into Monday’s win. Toronto had come back from a big deficit to go 13-9 in the period and moved into the lead of the Wild Card race, but veteran Rangers manager Bruce Bochy didn’t seem too worried about that before the game.
Bochy, who won three World Series with the San Francisco Giants and a pennant with the San Diego Padres, sat on the visitors’ bench Monday afternoon and said all was not lost.
“We have done a lot of things right and still have time to get back to what we are,” said Bochy.
Bochy added that 2023 is “not a story of two seasons, but close”: “We have to remember who we are, not who we were in the last few weeks.”
At least for one night, that’s exactly what they did.
REPLAY NO HELP FOR JAYS
One of the key moments of the game occurred at the end of the fifth period. Texas had a 3-2 lead early in the inning, but Kevin Kiermaier led off with a double. George Springer followed with a single, but instead of playing conservatively, with no outs and the core of the order, the Jays sent Kiermaier home. It made sense since he’s an elite runner and would easily score on a bad throw, but freshman Evan Carter unleashed a laser from left field to bring him to the plate. The Jays challenged the call, but it was upheld.
Toronto failed to score in the inning and Texas chased Bassitt with two more runs in the sixth. If Kiermaier had managed to equalize with no outs, things could have turned out differently.
Carter looks like a keeper
As for Carter, the 21-year-old had a night to himself. Carter, formerly Texas’ top prospect, had only one hit in his first three games, but hit his first career home run in the third, tying the game at 3-3. Toronto would never lead again.
According to MLB.com, Carter ranks eighth among all prospects in baseball, and the fast-riser showed the Jays why.
Carter, a second-round draft pick in 2020, also recorded a single in addition to his big outfield assist.
AROUND THE BASE
The Jays activated Erik Swanson, one of the team’s best relievers, before the game and optioned Jay Jackson. Swanson has appeared in 60 games and is 3-2 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.086 WHIP… so far this season he is 3-2 with a 3.10 earned run average and 1.086 WHIP over 58.0 innings Work… Manager John Schneider on Kirk making it for the fourth straight time: “With Danny Jansen out for the rest of the regular season with a hand injury, we’ll ride him as much as possible.” Danny Jansen won’t be in due to his hand injury return for the regular season…Toronto will start…Brandon Belt was removed from the game due to lower back muscle spasms.
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https://torontosun.com/sports/baseball/texas-rangers-throttle-blue-jays-in-opener-of-massive-series-in-front-of-sparse-crowd The Rangers throttle the Blue Jays in the opener of a tremendous series in front of a sparse crowd