For the first time this season, the Texas Rangers have won four straight games on the road. What's more important than wins or losses is the players who are starting to get results after a season filled with growing pains.
On Wednesday, the Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks by a score of 8-5, sweeping the short two-game series in Phoenix. While the Texas lineup was retired in order in the first three innings, the bats came alive in the fourth inning, as the Rangers batted around in the frame.
Trailing 1-0, Leody Taveras led off the inning with a triple hit to the right-center gap. Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1-1. Adolis García flew out to quickly get the second out on the inning, but the Rangers fought back with a fury to take a lead they would never surrender.
DJ Peters singled, then Nathaniel Lowe followed with an RBI triple hit down the right field line. Nick Solak then drove in Lowe with an RBI infield single. Solak stole second base, then moved to third on a passed ball by Arizona catcher Daulton Varsho. Yonny Hernandez walked, then stole second base. Jose Trevino was then intentionally walked to get to pitcher Kohei Arihara, who struck out swinging to end the inning.
The triples by Taveras and Lowe in the fourth inning was the first time it has happened for the Rangers since June, 12 2017 at Houston, when Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo pulled off the feat in the second inning.
The Rangers continued to grind out their at-bats throughout the rest of the game. None, however, was more gritty than Solak's at-bat in the sixth inning. The Rangers second baseman worked a 16-pitch at-bat, finishing with his second infield single of the game. Solak ended up scoring on an RBI double by Yohel Pozo, who was pinch-hitting for Arihara.
According to Stathead, Solak's sixth-inning at-bat is the most pitches in any plate appearance for a Rangers batter since pitches were first tracked in 1988.
"It was one of those goosebump at-bats," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward.
Solak and Lowe both have had their fair share of growing pains this year, but both exemplify the necessary growth that this 2021 team has had to go through. They are learning to work through their struggles, make adjustments, trust the process and trust the results will eventually come.
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Lowe especially has turned a corner of late, and he continued that on Wednesday. He had his second three-hit game in just over a week, finishing just a home run short of the cycle. For Lowe, this is more what the new normal should look like for him.
"[I was] tired of underperforming, honestly," Lowe said about the adjustments he's made. "Instead of calling it a better streak, I'd like to call it, just, 'playing better.' That's what's going on in my head right now."
Up and down the lineup, several Rangers are playing better. The team combined for 11 hits on Wednesday, and seven of the eight starting position players reached base. The team went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and only left six men on base.
"There are just so many good things that happened," Woodward said about the four-game winning streak. "Overall, just gritty, gritty stuff. We didn't hit a bunch of homers, we just out-grinded them."
On the mound, Kohei Arihara had another encouraging start after returning from a lengthy stay on the Injured List. He was able to pitch a tad deeper into the game, though he was unable to finish out the fifth inning. He gave up two runs on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
The bullpen did their job as the offense added three insurance runs in the eighth inning. Only Demarcus Evans struggled in relief, giving up two runs in the ninth inning, which brought Arizona within three runs. Joe Barlow came in to record the final out of the ballgame and his fourth save of the season.
The Rangers (51-88) are off on Thursday. They close out their nine-game road trip with a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics beginning on Friday. Glenn Otto (0-0, 1.86 ERA), Kolby Allard (3-12, 5.00 ERA) and Taylor Hearn (5-4, 3.95 ERA) and scheduled to start for Texas respectively.
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