A day after the Rangers were held to just three hits in a losing effort to the Rays, hitting coach Luis Ortiz preached patience for the development of Texas’ young hitters.
Ortiz compared the process to gardening. He explained that with the right soil and the right amount of water and care, the results will eventually show.
On Tuesday, the offense showed with 13 hits in an 8-3 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Rangers came into Tuesday’s game on a 22-inning scoreless streak after being shut out in back-to-back games and on a four-game skid.
Amid the struggles to get things going, manager Chris Woodward mixed things up for his club. The Rangers didn’t take pregame batting practice on the field and did so in the cages instead.
“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.”
After second baseman Nick Solak was unable to corral a ground ball, allowing a run to score in the first inning, Solak found a way to make up for it.
Solak stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and smacked a double off of Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning to clear the bases, giving Texas a two-run lead.
“Sometimes, you know, you make an error and then you know you’re gonna be thrown right into the fire again,” Solak said. “Here you come up with the bases loaded in a big spot and haven’t gotten the big hit thus far, but it’s gonna challenge you. You just try and get the job done the best you can.”
Just as the team’s offensive drought ended, some personal droughts were also halted. Third baseman Charlie Culberson came into Tuesday with just two hits on the season. With the rest of the Texas lineup going, he got in on the action too.
Culberson ended his day going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. The performance earned Culberson the honor of being the co-recipient of the Rangers postgame cowboy hat along with pitcher Kyle Gibson, who allowed two runs, one of which was earned, in seven innings of work.
Gibson said playing with a more relaxed mindset helped stop the four-game losing streak.
“We got a lot of vets that are also trying to have that mindset as well, and you know, a guy like Charlie comes out and has a big night,” Gibson said. “He had been struggling at the plate a little bit but, I mean, you can tell he’s the same guy day in and day out.”
First baseman Nate Lowe got off to a hot start to begin the year as he found himself among the league’s top RBI producers with 14 through his first five games. But since April 6, he had gone RBI-less and hitless before he snapped an 0-for-19 dry spell with a single in the fourth inning.
All but one hitter in Texas’ starting lineup reached base in the win, and five of the starters had multi-hit games. The Rangers raised their team batting average with runners in scoring position to .341 and a league-best 1.043 OPS in those situations.
“All we can do is prepare every single [hitter] to be ready for the biggest moment,” Woodward said. “When our guys [have] their mouths watering because they can’t wait to get up there with the bases loaded, that’s where we’re going to take that next step, and I thought today was a big part of that.”
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