Rangers’ rare one-run win sparks hope for improvement in close games in second half of ‘22

ARLINGTON — The Rangers have reached the midpoint of the season and to celebrate that accomplishment, they’ve put on a show about everything that happened. Because everyone loves when kids put on a show.

Here’s how it went: They quickly dug a big hole with sloppy play, then put together a promising trade, only to then try to hold on to preserve the progress they’ve made.

It pretty much looks like the season so far.

Plot twist: For a change, they maintained their grip. Won a tight game: 6-5 over the center-leading Minnesota Twins. They reach the middle of the season at 38-43, on the pace of 76 victories. That would be an improvement of 16 wins over 2021.

“It’s a good stepping stone for us,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I hope we win by eight tomorrow, but as long as we win, I don’t care. It was a big win for us. »

Was it just a one-night stand? Or a harbinger of things to come?

Look, the numbers say Rangers were unlucky in the first half. They started the day 4-17 in one-legged matches, on pace for what would be a club record 34. Analysts like to say that one-legged matches involve a high quotient of luck, good or bad.

The data says: That’s the payback for winning all those games by one point in 2016 when they went 36-11. As if getting swept away by Toronto in the Division Series that year wasn’t enough.

In 2016, Pythagorean team records, based on runs scored and allowed, suggested that Toronto was really a 91-win team, the Rangers an 82-win team. The Rangers, in the Pythagorean formula, had been a lucky team during the regular season.

This season, the Pythagorean formula suggests Rangers have been unlucky so far. They “should have” gone 41-39 on Friday.

Woodward would rather be good than lucky.

“We didn’t play well sometimes in tight games,” he said. “We just haven’t been exceptional in those games, where it’s like great batting, executing throws, making every quality play we can determine things. There are just a few little things that sometimes bothered us. It’s about improving each area a little bit.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of luck when you lose a close game,” he added. “But when it’s that consistent, it tells you we’re close, but we’re not there yet.”

For one night, at least, they offered some hope that they might still get it.

Texas Rangers third base coach Tony Beasley (27) hugs umpire Angel Hernandez (5) before the...

1/14Texas Rangers third base coach Tony Beasley (27) hugs umpire Angel Hernandez (5) before the game between the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins at Globe Life Field in Arlington on Friday, July 8, 2022 .(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

The game started like the season. The Rangers, who have lost nine of their first 11 games this season, fell into a hole before anyone could lose the first salt shaker on what was dubbed ‘Margaritaville Night’.

Luis Arraez started with a ball on the ground, whose face-off attempt could best be described this way: Nathaniel Lowe fell and moved. He tipped the grounder, then fell while picking it up and threw wildly at Jon Gray first. Before the crowd could even finish booing Carlos Correa, the next batter, he had headed for the visitors’ bullpen.

Minnesota added another run in the third on a pair of Corey Seager and Jonah Heim errors and a Max Kepler single after a draw and a field trip. It was a miracle that Rangers only dropped three points in the bottom of the fifth.

And then, just like the team that fought until .500 at the end of May, the Rangers rallied. In the fifth, they rounded up the types of bats Woodward has considered since taking over as manager in 2019. After Sonny Gray first mowed them down in the order, the second half of the lineup produced a pair of hits and a hard-earned walk from Kole Calhoun to load the bases.

Then they actually capitalized. Mitch Garver, who will undergo season-ending forearm surgery after this series against his former club, was hit by a one-pass forcing shot. Rookies Leody Taveras (fly bag) and Josh Smith (single) each homered to tie the game. And Corey Seager did what he’s paid to do: drove a two-out, three-run homer into the right seats to make it 6-3.

“To be successful at something you’ve struggled with, it’s important to see what it looks like and what it looks like,” Seager said. “We had that tonight.”

Jon Gray immediately came out and allowed a double to No. 7 hitter Nick Gordon and a two-run homer to No. 9 hitter Ryan Jeffers.

This made it a one-turn game.

In the first half of the season, that usually meant bad news for Rangers. Maybe, as they are about to start the second half, they are also about to change the script.

On Twitter: @Evan_P_Grant

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