With his Rangers in a hitting slump since the middle of last week, Texas manager Chris Woodward decided to mix it up a bit on Tuesday before the second game of a four-game road series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Instead of taking batting practice on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field, he had his club take BP in the cages inside.
The strategy appears to have worked, with the Rangers winning 8-3 and following it with a 5-1 victory Wednesday.
The teams will conclude their four-game series Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“We’ve said we’re going to do things a little different this year, and they got plenty of swings, you know — trust me on that,” Woodward said. “Some of the best teams I played on, we didn’t take BP for four straight days and we came out and scored 10 runs a game, so these guys are getting plenty of work in.”
Texas got 13 hits on Tuesday. The Rangers also broke their four-game losing streak and saw a runner cross the plate for the first time after 22 scoreless innings.
On Wednesday, they won their second straight by using a four-run seventh inning to blow open a 1-0 game.
In the series finale Thursday night, right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Rangers. He’s made two appearances (one start) against the Rays and hasn’t recorded a decision but has a 1.69 ERA over 10 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash also decided to mix it up on Tuesday, but it had to do with his team’s pitching rather than its hitting.
With right-hander Chris Archer (forearm) placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday and set to miss his scheduled start Thursday, the club called up left-hander Josh Fleming from the taxi squad.
But instead of inserting Fleming in Archer’s spot Thursday, the staff bumped his start to Wednesday and pushed 41-year-old lefty Rich Hill (1-0, 7.20) back a day.
Allowing one run and four hits in five innings, Fleming pitched well but was saddled with his first career loss.
To clear a spot for Fleming, Tampa Bay optioned infielder Kevin Padlo to the alternate site. While playing a solid third base, Padlo was 0-for-6 batting with five strikeouts and two walks in his three games.
Cash was able to keep his bullpen in order despite the two losses. He put the final three innings Tuesday in the hands of Trevor Richards — a bulk-innings right-hander who gave up two runs.
The stint permitted Cash to keep his bullpen arms fresh.
“It helps,” Cash said of using only Richards in relief. “Look, you don’t like to be on that side of those games very often, but it was big what he did. The bullpen had been pretty taxed. Diego (Castillo) two days in a row, Cody Reed three days in a row.
“To be able to avoid those guys and allow (Richards) to finish the game for us was nice.”
In one career start and two relief appearances against Texas, Hill is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.
–Field Level Media