The Texas Rangers (5-7) put together back-to-back wins for the second time this season, shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays (5-7) on Wednesday night by a score of 5-1.
Offseason acquisition Kohei Arihara had the best start of his young career, earning his first Major League win. He set new career highs with 5 2/3 scoreless innings and five strikeouts, as he worked through the Tampa Bay lineup very efficiently.
Arihara continued a sensational streak by Rangers starting pitching. In the past seven games, Texas starters boast a 1.66 ERA.
"I thought Arihara was great," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. "But the young guys coming in and going right after these guys, I think that's what kind of stands out for me. To see the conviction these guys are starting to get, having success. I think the beginning of the season is testy for younger players, but they're starting to believe that they belong out there. It doesn't really matter who's standing in the batter's box."
Arihara showed some mettle in the second inning after getting into a jam. He allowed back-to-back hits to lead off the inning, putting runners on second and third with nobody out (with an assist by poor baserunning by Tampa Bay's Yandy Díaz). Arihara bore down and retired the next three hitters with a pop up and back-to-back strikeouts.
It was a great night for Arihara, but it wasn't capped off until Kolby Allard crowned him with the post-win cowboy hat.
On the offensive side, Nate Lowe provided an early lead with a line drive solo home run in the second inning, his fourth blast of the season. The Rangers clung to the one-run lead for several innings as Texas lineup was held at bay by Tampa Bay starter Josh Fleming and reliever Chris Mazza. But the bats finally broke through in the seventh inning.
David Dahl provided some huge insurance with a two-out, two-run double off Mazza to extend the lead to 3-0. After an intentional walk of Joey Gallo, Adolis García showed exactly why Chris Woodward is so excited about him.
García drove a ball to the wall in right-center field that hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. While some thought it may have been a home run, García hustled around the bases as the Rays defense played as if it wasn't. García dove head-first at home and was called safe as it appeared his hand touched the plate before the tag was applied, which would have been an inside-the-park homer.
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The Rays challenged the play, and after a lengthy delay, the call was controversially reversed. While it still drove in two runs and was García's first career triple, the call took away his first career home run.
Chris Woodward confirmed after the game that the replay system reviewed where the ball hit the wall along the play at the plate.
"I couldn't tell, obviously," Woodward said. "I'm not looking at the replay, so I've got to trust what they [saw]. They told me they looked at the ground rules and made sure. There are some weird things out there with some railings. I'm not sure exactly what it hit."
John King and Kyle Cody helped slam the door after Arihara's solid start with a combined 3 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. The Rays scored their lone run in the ninth inning on a solo home run by Brandon Lowe off of Cody.
The Rangers will try to take three of four games from the Rays on Thursday night. Texas starter Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will face off with 41-year-old veteran Rich Hill (1-0, 7.20 ERA).