After a game like the one Texas had last night, the Rangers looked to get something, anything positive out of today’s game. How bad was yesterday’s game? Well, Levi wrote a game story about Rasputin and asked for a day off. Today’s game proved quite different than last night’s disaster.
Starting off the game A.J. Griffin commanded the strike zone well, working quickly and retiring batters without struggling through at bats. When he’s at his best, this is how Griffin works. Throughout his four innings, he looked in control of the game.
It's the Jose Trevino show! To end the top of the 2nd he finished a strikeout caught stealing double play. For the third out in the top of the 3rd Peter Boujos attempted a bunt for a base hit. The attempt wasn’t far enough out and Trevino dove fully-extended and caught the popped up bunt to end the inning. Trevino stepped to the plate in the bottom of the frame and was able to take an 0-2 pitch and line it into centerfield.
(For more on Trevino, read our profile on him in our Top 15 Texas Rangers Prospects list.)
Joey Gallo put up a solid at bat, taking a slider down and away from a lefty and smashing it into right field for a 2 RBI single that extended Texas’ lead to 3-0. His swing looked balanced, like he might be starting to feel more comfortable in the box. Jeff Banister noted how Gallo’s mentality has changed in that he doesn’t fear making mistakes like he did last year. He said Gallo wants to take advantage of more opportunities to learn.
Dario Alvarez pitched two shutout innings in the fifth and sixth. Though he didn’t strike anyone out and allowed two hits, he avoided walking any hitters and pitched well in his outing today.
Keone Kela will embarrass you in front of your family and there is nothing you can do to change it. In the seventh inning Kela, outside of one hit, dominated hitters. His fastball command was on point, paired perfectly with devastating curveball that struck out three hitters in that inning. Swinging, looking, and a dropped third strike.
Coming off an injury panged 2016, Kela wants to remind you of the kind of pitcher he is when everything is working. When he can place his curveball gently at the bottom of the strike zone, Kela is nearly unhittable.
The one player who was given a full day was James Loney. As the DH Loney went 1-4 with a bloop single into shallow center field as his lone hit.
Elvis Andrus made his first start of the spring today after a November 1 surgery for a sports hernia Andrus played through for a significant portion of the season. Defensively Andrus handled his chances but went 0-3 at the plate with a strikeout.
Other tidbits: Scott Heineman and Preston Beck both belted loud opposite field doubles in limited numbers of at bats. Both looked locked in offensively. Matt Bush and Jeremy Jeffress each worked one inning and both looked solid in their respective innings.
While this game played out, the Rangers' split squad faced off with the Oakland A’s at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa. Center fielder Ryan Rua (yes you read it right) went 1-4 and knocked in a pair of runs.
Drew Robinson played shortstop and put up two hits and a walk on the day. Ronald Guzman and Jurickson's younger brother Juremi Profar split time at first base and both hit a double in today’s game.
That game also saw Tony Barnette toss up a scoreless frame. He was the only member of the Texas squad with a scoreless outing as starter Eddie Gamboa and four other Rangers combined to allow eight runs. The last run, given up by Sam Wolff in the bottom of the 9th, ended up being the decider as Oakland walked it off with an 8-7 win.
Wins in spring training bear less weight than individual improvement from players; today the Rangers got both. More games like today's game against Chicago bode well for the Rangers in the long run. Cactus league wins don’t bring trophies, but incremental improvement stands forever. Or something like that.
If you want some Rangers prospect talk this season, be sure to follow Brice on Twitter @80gradewhitt.