ARLINGTON — A line drive hit 92 miles per hour, right into Nate Lowe’s glove. Standing to his right was a frozen Yandy Diaz, who had no option but to stand and wait to be tagged by the Rangers first baseman.
Breaks like that have eluded Texas for nearly two weeks — a stretch of nine consecutive losses. In this game, the Rangers built their first lead of more than two runs since May 23, and broke seemingly interminable skid with a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field.
The Rangers will still have to figure out their road woes. They’ve lost a club record 15 consecutive away from Arlington in a streak that spans nearly a full month. On Friday, though, Texas was able to enjoy its homecoming with its fourth consecutive home run against a team 14 games ahead of them in the standings.
“It just kind of relieves a little bit of the black cloud or tension in the clubhouse,” said manager Chris Woodward. And we celebrated. I felt like we won the World Series a little bit.”
Four of the Rangers 23 wins have now come against the best team in the AL, which has four of its 23 losses against Texas.
The win also finally allowed the Rangers to surpass last season’s 60-game season win total in this season’s 59th game.
The Rangers got a necessary boost with the return of their ace Kyle Gibson, who pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings on a limited pitch count. Since his first start of the season, Gibson has allowed just 10 earned runs over 65 1/3 innings.
Joey Gallo hit a 433-foot home run to dead center field. It was his 10th of the season and his eighth all-time at Globe Life Field. That homer finally put a Ranger into a first-place tie with Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager for the most all-time at the venue.
“Baseball is a game where the ball just bounces both ways,” Gibson said. “And at some point, we know it’s going to swing our way.”
Before the game, Woodward was asked to compare this losing streak to the one he coached with the Dodgers in 2017. That team went to the World Series and at one point had been on pace to be one of the best regular season teams ever.
That team, though, also lost 11 consecutive games, and 16-of-17. The comparison of that team to this Rangers team isn’t equal. But their striking differences, in some ways, heightened the similarity of what a team goes through when it hits a skid that seems like it can’t shake.
“As a hitter, if you’re 0-for-20, you feel like you’re never going to get a hit again,” Woodward said. “And the second you get a hit, it’s just kind of, ‘I got a hit.’ Same thing as a team. When you feel like you can’t win a game, the second you win a game it kind of relieves all that tension.”
It seemed that Texas might cruise to a win as the game reached the latter innings. The lead was growing and the Rangers pitchers were mowing down the Rays bats.
Getting the win, of course, wasn’t as easy as it might’ve appeared. Ian Kennedy — going for his first save since May 17 — walked two batters and had a 3-1 count on a third.
He’d walked just three batters all season, so it was clear the layoff affected his sharp stuff. But he reared back to strike out Brandon Lowe on three pitches to strand the tying run on third base.
Jose Trevino had a mighty fist-bump behind the plate less than a second after the ball hit his mitt. An exhale. A moment to celebrate. And after nearly two weeks of futility — a win, finally, to enjoy.
As for celebrating like it was a championship, Gallo said that they’d “probably celebrate a little bit more if we won a World Series.” But after that long a layoff, it was worth savoring.
“People probably don’t think we have a good team,” Gallo said. “But we do have a good team. I’ll sit up here and say it. We do. Unfortunately, we had a bad stretch, and it is what it is. But we know we can handle any team in this league.”
- Rangers announced it acquired RHP Tyson Miller from the Cubs on a waiver claim, and optioned him to Triple-A. Miller made three appearances for Triple-A Iowa this season and made two appearances with the Cubs in 2020.
- Texas moved RHP Hunter Wood from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL with a mild UCL sprain that is expected to sideline him for an additional two months.
- The Rangers announced the contract sale of Triple-A pitcher Sam Gaviglio to the SSG Landers of the Korean Baseball Organization. He had a 5.13 ERA in five starts for Round Rock.
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