ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers have lost the first two games of their 10-game homestand in two different ways. However, one theme remained the same with manager Chris Woodward in his postgame Zoom with the media.
We need to play better baseball.
The Rangers fell to the Twins by a score of 3-2, allowing Minnesota to take the lead on back-to-back wild pitches in the seventh inning. But that's not what got to the Rangers skipper.
Rather, the failure to do damage early in the game is what seemed to frustrate Woodward the most. The Twins had Randy Dobnak on the hill to start the game, who carried an 8.38 ERA into the game. After Rangers starter Kolby Allard pitched a perfect first inning, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off the Rangers' first with a double hit down the left field line. However, the trio of Nate Lowe, Adolis García, and Joey Gallo failed to capitalize.
"I didn't think we executed the best. We scored two off of [Dobnak] through five. But I thought the first inning was kind of the biggest inning, which is something I addressed with the team the other day," Woodward said. "If we get a zero on the board and we get a chance to score a run, we need to play better baseball to score a run. Runner on second, nobody out, we've gotta get the job done."
The two the Rangers managed to score also came off the bat of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who lined a 104.3-mph missile over the wall in left field for a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. It was the Hawaiian native's first homer since May 2, ending a 40-game home run drought.
The Twins, however, answered right back, all thanks to a familiar face. Allard left a backdoor cutter over the plate against former Ranger Nelson Cruz, and the 40-year-old slugger made him pay for it with a no-doubter to center field that tied the game at 2-2.
Allard, despite being on a pitch count to help preserve his health, pitched very efficiently and was able to last six innings on only 75 pitches. The Cruz home run was the only blemish on Allard's final line, which included only four hits, one walk, with six strikeouts.
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John King came in and pitched the final three innings for the Rangers, with only the one run from the wild pitch allowed.
"It was good, honestly," Woodward said of the Allard/King tandem. "It worked out almost exactly to the pitch count we wanted for each of them. We got through it. Unfortunately, we didn't win the game. But overall, I thought both of them were pretty effective."
The Rangers are trying to stretch King out so he can eventually become an option for the rotation at some point. For the time being, King will work as a piggyback, similar to the tandem roles that were established in spring training. King will pitch behind either Allard or Dane Dunning, but could also start ahead of either one of them.
When the tandem roles were initially set up, Chris Woodward preferred to match up righties and lefties together. However, that may not be the case this time around.
"I don't think it matters," Woodward explained. "If we were in a different situation as far as contention goes, then yes. ... Right now, it's more about making sure we get these guys their pitch counts."
With Saturday's loss, the Rangers have dropped five straight games. They are also now a season-high 20 games under .500 at 25-45, and it's the first time Texas has been 20-games under since the end of the 2018 season, when they finished 67-95.
More on SI's Inside The Rangers:
- Curtis Terry Raking In Triple-A, On Rangers' Radar
- More Learning Moments For Young Rangers In 7-5 Loss To Twins
- Rangers To Host COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive On Monday At Globe Life Field
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