Run, Rangers, run.
That remains manager Chris Woodward’s philosophy when his Texas Rangers come to bat, an approach that continued with another stolen base during Friday’s 9-7 loss to the host Chicago White Sox.
Rangers fans figure to look for more of the same when the teams meet again in Chicago on Saturday night and beyond, as Texas has stolen 15 bases through 20 games, fourth in the major leagues.
“Overall, these guys know exactly what’s expected,” Woodward said. “They should have no fear of pushing the envelope. We do a lot of homework, so it’s not like we’re just out there running recklessly. A lot of our guys know what they’re looking for. I want our offense to honestly push it a little more. We need more guys on base. If we get more guys on base, we can cause a lot more havoc.”
Texas’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa stole second base in the fifth inning Friday, getting a jump against White Sox reliever Evan Marshall and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Of course, Rangers runners embarked upon their share of trotting along with aggressive baserunning as Chicago opened a nine-game homestand with a narrow victory. Nick Solak hit a two-run home run for Texas in the fourth inning, while Adolis Garcia hit a three-run shot in the fifth and a solo homer in the ninth.
Saturday’s scheduled White Sox starter, Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 5.68 ERA), has struggled with the long ball this season, yielding three home runs in four starts while walking seven and striking out 10 in 19 innings.
The left-hander is 10-10 with a 4.01 ERA in 27 career starts against the Rangers.
After limiting the Baltimore Orioles to four hits in eight scoreless innings Sunday, righty Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.53) will aim to keep rolling for the Rangers.
Gibson has worked at least six innings in three straight starts. In 17 career starts against the White Sox, he is 9-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings.
Yermin Mercedes went 4-for-4 Friday as the rookie designated hitter raised his average to .429.
“I never imagined I would be here,” Mercedes said. “Now we’re here, keep going. Don’t put the head down. Just keep doing what I’m doing every day to keep it at that point. That’s great for me. I’m feeling great, feeling nice because I’m with my people, with my fans and with everybody. So I’m excited for that.”
Jose Abreu returned to his regular post at first base Friday after serving as Chicago’s designated hitter during Tuesday’s 8-5 victory at Cleveland. Abreu hit two home runs as the DH but has told manager Tony La Russa he’s all about playing first base.
“I got it,” La Russa said. “We like him playing first base. He’s a Gold Glover. A day off once in a while as a DH will be fine. He improves our infield when he plays first.”
–Field Level Media