ARLINGTON — After 18 straight days with one game, the Rangers finally have the day off before heading to Houston for a three-game series that begins Tuesday. Texas ended the streak with an 8-2 loss to the White Sox on Sunday at Globe Life Field to split the series.
Aside from a game that saw Nathaniel Lowe show off on both sides of the ball — including a 452-foot Statcast-projected home run — there wasn’t much in Texas’ favor.
Here are some takeaways from the weekend:
1. The pitch was good, but not great
Between Thursday and Sunday, there were ups and downs in the Rangers rotation.
No. 29 prospect Cole Ragans made his debut and took the no-decision in Rangers’ 3-2 win. With Jon Gray on the IL, this opened up a place for Ragans in the rotation. He pitched five innings Thursday without giving up an earned run, walked four and struck out three. He is expected to pitch again in Thursday’s final against Houston’s Framber Valdez. Five innings is a small sample size, so it’s hard to say what role he’ll play as Gray recovers from a left oblique strain.
Friday and Saturday:
Glenn Otto and Dane Dunning threw two of the best starts against the White Sox over the weekend. Although Otto suffered the loss in another one-point game on Friday, it was the first time since late May that he had gone six innings with minimal damage.
Dunning, on the other hand, was dominant from the start. The right-hander pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, which set the tone for the rest of the game, as he has struggled to open in the past. In one of the best outings of his career, Dunning pitched seven shutout innings for his first win since April 30, ending a 15-start winless streak.
Spencer Howard struggled with consistency and suffered his fourth loss of the season. The right-hander was retired after 3 1/3 innings, giving up a season-high and career-high eight hits that led to five earned runs. It was the second straight start Howard had allowed five or more runs in under five innings.
“I felt the first inning, the execution was right,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “The second set, I mean, from that point on, there were a lot of balls in the middle. He didn’t execute his throws well.”
2. Taylor Hearn could be the best in relief
Yes, it’s been said before, but Hearn coming out of the bullpen looks better and better with each outing. He had success early in the game after a first game, as well as late innings.
Hearn helped Dunning win Saturday with two scoreless runs. He entered the game in the eighth and retired the team with 14 pitches, then closed things out in the ninth to preserve the shutout.
As a starter this season, Hearn is 4-5 with a 6.25 ERA in 13 games. As a reliever, he is 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA in five games and 15 1/3 innings.
“This year he’s had some decent starts, I just think in a shorter sample, in a smaller frame, he’s just more effective,” Woodward said. “We can always go back to maybe lengthen it later. But right now he is such a weapon.
3. Meibrys Viloria warms up
Aside from Sunday’s game, Viloria has provided a bigger presence at the plate in the month of August. Entering the Finals, Viloria was 6-for-9 with one home run, one double, one walk and two RBIs in five appearances this month.
The six hits in five games was an improvement over the four hits he had recorded in 10 games combined through the end of June and July. With the way he plays, Woodward said maybe Viloria could see more time behind the plate to give catcher Jonah Heim a break once in a while.
“I talked about it a lot with the staff. I just think it might be a good little race to get Viloria in while he’s hot,” Woodward said.