After Texas Rangers pitching gave up 25 runs in two games, they bounced back with a stellar outing on Easter Sunday.
Jordan Lyles and Wes Benjamin carried the Rangers to their first win of the season, salvaging their opening series of 2021 with a 7-3 victory in Kansas City. Lyles breezed through 5 2/3 innings, giving up only two earned runs and struck out eight Kansas City hitters on 76 pitches.
"That was the best game I've seen Jordan pitch in a Rangers uniform," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. "That was exactly what he set out to do. We needed that."
Only a Salvador Perez two-run home run cut Lyles' sixth inning short, but Wes Benjamin took the ball and continued the great day on the mound. Benjamin lived up to his strike-throwing reputation, striking out three Royals in 2 1/3 innings. Former Royal Ian Kennedy gave up a run in the ninth inning, but recorded strikeouts for all three outs in the final frame.
The results looked great on Sunday. But most importantly, the Rangers consistently attacked the strike zone. After giving Kansas City twelve free passes in the first two games of the series, Rangers pitching posted a zero in the walk column on Sunday.
"That was much better," Woodward said with a chuckle. "We executed the gameplan really well. ... It's a good recipe for success. Balls put in play are going to find gloves once in a while, even if they're hit hard. When the ball hits the catcher's glove for ball four, you can't defend that. The more we can limit that and put the pressure on the opposing offense to put them on their heels a little bit, it's more of an advantage we have."
Rangers pitching was backed by another strong performance by the lineup. Nate Lowe got things started with a 465-foot three-run blast into the fountain in the second inning. The Texas lineup showed their grit in the next inning, drawing three straight one-out walks before Isiah Kiner-Falefa drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single and sacrifice fly from David Dahl.
"That's what we're talking about when we talk about being gritty," Woodward said. "We're not giving in. It was a big at-bat for [Taveras] — the biggest at-bat of the game. It allowed us to extend our lead."
The Rangers look to carry this momentum into Monday's game against Toronto, when they open their home schedule in front of an expected 40,000 fans.