The Texas Rangers will try to produce more first-inning magic when they play the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Braves in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers scored in the first inning on Saturday when Corey Seager hit a solo home run in a 3-1 win. It was the first time the team had scored in the first frame since Opening Day.
“Obviously any time you have the lead you feel better,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “The other team is playing from being right from the beginning. Hopefully we can do that more often because we preach that heavily and we know how important that is to the psyche of the ballclub of both teams. We’ve just got to do more of that.”
Seager is starting to heat up. He has homered in three straight games, tying his career high. And rookie Zach Reks was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock, got his first major league hit and went 1-for-3 with an RBI and scored a run.
“It was such a relief,” Reks admitted. “To be part of this game was incredible.”
Reks was hitless in 10 at-bats over six games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021.
The Rangers will start left-hander Taylor Hearn (0-2, 7.47 ERA) in the finale. The Braves have not named a starter. Normally it would be Max Fried’s turn to pitch, but Atlanta is holding him out to start the series against the National League East-leading New York Mets on Monday.
Atlanta has options. It might recall left-hander Kyle Muller, who made eight starts for Atlanta in 2021; he is 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Gwinnett. His last start was April 23 when he struck out eight in four innings. Another option is to use the rubber-armed Jesse Chavez as an opener and go with a bullpen game.
“We’ll talk about it and have someone for you (Sunday),” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Hearn will make his fifth start of the season in the finale of the homestand. Opponents are hitting .353 against Hearns, who last pitched on Tuesday and took the loss against the Houston Astros when he allowed four runs on five hits and one walk and struck out four in five innings.
Hearn has never faced Atlanta. This will be his second career start against a National League team.
The Atlanta offense was kept off-balance by Texas starter Dane Dunning on Saturday, and the Braves were limited to one run for the first time since April 20 against the Dodgers. The loss prevented the Braves from reaching the .500 mark for the first time they were 5-5 on April 16.
“We’re still finding ourselves. We’re fine,” Snitker said. “These guys stay level. That’s their mantra. They’ll come out (Sunday), they’ll prepare and they’ll give everything they’ve got.”
Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. was back in the lineup after sitting out Friday’s game. In two games since making his season debut on Thursday, Acuna is 2-for-9 — both singles — with one RBI, two stolen bases and three strikeouts.
Acuna returned to the team after sustaining a torn right ACL last July.
–Field Level Media