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'Relentless': Facing Rangers Lineup - War of Attrition?

The Texas Rangers wore down the San Francisco Giants pitching in Tuesday night's 10-6 win.

At the start of camp, Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young vowed that the opposition will "know what the Texas Rangers stand for." Catcher Jose Trevino said this team was going to be "gritty" and be "in your face."

We just caught a glimpse of what that identity could look like.

The top half of the Texas lineup exhausted the San Francisco Giants pitching in Tuesday night's 10-6 win in Scottsdale. With the rolled innings rule no longer in effect, they forced the Giants to utilize the spring-exclusive re-enter rule, pulling starter Johnny Cueto with one out in the third inning. They booted him for good after five Rangers reached consecutively to lead off the fourth inning, scoring two runs without recording an out.

In addition, they made Giants hurlers throw more than 100 pitches in the first four innings.

"It was really cool to see them do that," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Just the quality of the at-bats, honestly. The 2-1 takes that were close, the grinding of the at-bats. I thought early on we could have scored a lot more runs. We left the bases loaded a few times. But I was just really proud of them. Just the way they were relentless. That's what we've been talking about for a long time now."

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, David Dahl, and Joey Gallo were a juggernaut atop the Rangers' lineup. The trio were a combined 6-for-8 with four walks and four RBI. When the top of the lineup does that, you're going to have a plethora of opportunities to drive in runs.

While Chris Woodward has mentioned the possibility of Kiner-Falefa leading off and solidified that Gallo will be hitting third the majority of the time, Dahl's coming out party on Tuesday night could round out a formidable trio in the two-hole.

"He's been taking a lot of really close pitches," Woodward said of Dahl. "I know in the past he's typically been a free-swinger, but the fact that he's controlling the strike zone the way he is — I know him and Joey [Gallo] are tight, and they talked a lot about that — it's putting him in a lot of good counts to hit. If he continues to do that all year, he's going to do some damage. This kid can really, really hit."

While the middle of the lineup struggled for the most part, Nick Solak found retribution for two earlier strikeouts with the bases loaded when he smacked a hard line drive over the wall in right-center field for a grand slam in the fourth inning.

"I thought Solak could've easily given in," Woodward said. "The one thing about him is he just doesn't give in. Then he gets a huge hit there with two outs and two strikes."

Ahead of their final off-day of the spring, Chris Woodward addressed his ballclub, beginning to hammer down on the details that will make this team hard to play against on a nightly basis. 

The season begins two weeks from Thursday, which means the next week-and-a-half is crucial for forming this identity that Young and Trevino spoke of at the beginning of camp. 

"I like where our guys are at physically," Woodward said earlier this week. "They're ready. They're competing. But there's some little things, when we talk about winning, that we need to do a little bit better at times."

If Tuesday night's offensive display was any indication, the message was clearly received.

Promo photo: Kelly Gavin / Courtesy of the Texas Rangers

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Chris Halicke covers the Texas Rangers for Follow him on Twitter @ChrisHalicke.
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