The Cleveland Guardians can only wish to have the kind of power that the Texas Rangers possess.
The two teams split a doubleheader on Tuesday, Cleveland taking the opener 6-3 and Texas claiming the nightcap by the same score.
The rubber match of the three-game series is Wednesday. It will be up to Cleveland ace Shane Bieber (3-3, 3.12 ERA) to try to keep the Rangers in the park. Right-hander Dane Dunning (1-3, 4.11) will start for Texas.
The Rangers have hit 10 home runs in the past three games, including four on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners and four more in the second game of the doubleheader against Cleveland. They also had four long balls vs. the Boston Red Sox on April 15.
Texas has homered in 11 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Perhaps no one in baseball is hotter than Texas infielder Marcus Semien, who went 7-for-8 with three homers in the twin bill. In his past three games, Semien is 9-for-13 with four homers. He has six homers in his past 11 games after having none in the first 43 contests.
“I think doubleheaders can be crazy like that,” Semien said. “You just show up and the swing feels good and you’re getting pitches to hit and taking balls. I felt that way in the first game, and I didn’t change anything in between games. I just kept the same mindset and felt good.”
Guardians manager Terry Francona said, “He is one of our biggest concerns. He’s a good hitter. It’s fun to watch.”
Except when you’re playing against him. Semien raised his batting average from .196 to .221 in the doubleheader.
Bieber lost his lone career start against the Rangers on June 20, 2019, when he allowed two runs in six innings while striking out eight.
Dunning is 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA in two career starts against Cleveland, 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in one start at Progressive Field.
The loss Tuesday night was just the Guardians’ second in the past eight games, but it dropped Cleveland back below .500.
“Five hundred is not our goal,” Francona said. “It needs to be a jumping-off point. When we play good baseball, we can win. Maybe we don’t hit as many homers, but we can still play winning baseball.”
Cleveland shortstop Amed Rosario didn’t match Semien’s display on Tuesday, but he went 4-for-9 in the two games, raising his batting average to .250.
The Guardians got a perfect eighth inning from right-handed reliever Eli Morgan en route to the win in the opener of the doubleheader.
Francona calls him his “weapon.”
“He’s an easy kid to root for,” he said. “He has a good head on his shoulders. He’s a great teammate.”
Morgan started 18 games last year for Cleveland but has evolved into a top reliever.
“I’ll be ready when I’m called,” he said.
The Guardians have had seven rainouts at home this season, including the scheduled series opener on Monday. They have been forced to play four doubleheaders, and they have five more scheduled.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward has empathy for Cleveland’s situation, but Texas plays in a domed stadium.
“We don’t deal with it,” Woodward said.
–Field Level Media