Time: 8:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX
Where to watch: MASN 2, Bally Sports Southwest
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Rangers -130, Nationals +110
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Nationals - Rangers preview and analysis
The Texas Rangers will not go quietly into the night. And sure, they’ve beaten the Philadelphia Phillies now nine straight times, but that shouldn’t matter when the team you’re hosting is one of the best in baseball and is making a charge up the division standings.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are nearing .500 again after taking both games in the two-game sweep against the Phillies at home, and will now host the Washington Nationals for a three-game set that is beyond winnable and could put the Rangers above .500 by the time next week rolls around.
Quite honestly, that would be the best recipe for the Rangers before embarking on a long road trip. Considering how things ended in that four-game road trip against the Detroit Tigers, this is bound to be the perfect medicine. Think about it: Against the surging Phillies, the Rangers sent their top pitchers out there – Martin Perez and Jon Gray – both pitched very well and both got big-time wins. And now, the Rangers are only four games back of the wild card race, and we have to start wondering if this is the group that will buy at the trade deadline.
"I was just proud of our offense today, making Wheeler throw a ton of pitches, working a lot of counts," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Obviously he punched out a lot of guys and we struck out 14 times. But at the same time, we actually had really quality at bats to get those runs."
It was a good night from the Rangers, handing Zack Wheeler his first loss in 10 starts. Brad Miller had a two-run single, and Kole Calhoun also drove in the other two runs for a 4-2 win on Wednesday. Gray went 5.2 innings and struck out five.
“He was really good today,” Woodward said of Gray. “Schwarber is as hot as can be. Gray actually didn't make a terrible pitch, he just left it a little over the plate. Outside of that, you saw the funky swings on some pretty good hitters on their side. Martín doing his job yesterday, and Jon obviously did a great job getting into the sixth inning. The bullpen guys came in and wiped people out. Moore and Santana have been doing that for a while now.”
That’s been the one key to the Rangers getting back to this level: The pitching, especially at the top, has been great. Texas has used its bullpen as deep as it can, and that’s led to Joe Barlow earning 13 saves in 15 appearances. Perhaps the most underrated reliever in the league right now.
Meanwhile, at least the Nationals are coming in with some rest. Their last game Wednesday was halted due to rain. That’s the good news; the bad news being the Nationals lost 7-0 to the Baltimore Orioles in a game that stopped after six innings. And they even let Austin Hays hit for the cycle in six innings. Not sure how that happens, but it’s a great way to sum up Washington’s season to this point.
“I love the way we’re attacking the zone now, I really do, from everybody,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said. “Going into today, I didn’t really think about what we’ve done with our pitching staff, even though in the back of my mind I said, 'We’re pitching better,' as I always talk about.”
If Dave says so, I guess.
Paolo Espino will make his third straight start for the Nationals, and he’ll take on young right-hander Dane Dunning, who has just one win in six decisions with a 4.38 ERA.
If there was ever a time for Dunning to break out of his slump, it might be Washington. Odds may not be in his favor, but with the way the Rangers’ bats were clicking at home against Philadelphia, I wouldn’t put it past the Rangers to get a win here. Rangers win 7-1
Nationals are 46-73 the past three seasons when the line is between +125 and -125.
Nationals are 15-32 against right-handed starters this season.
Nationals are 66-131 as an underdog the past three seasons.
Rangers are 19-29 as a favorite the past three seasons.
Rangers are 6-1 against NL East teams this season.
Cesar Hernandez (A) 2B
Juan Soto (Z) RF
Josh Bell (A) 1B
Nelson Cruz (D) DH
Luis Garcia (Z) SS
Lane Thomas (D) CF
Yadiel Hernandez (Z) LF
Riley Adams (D) C
Ehire Adrianza (A) 3B
SP - Paolo Espino
Marcus Semien (R) 2B
Corey Seager (L) SS
Adolis Garcia (R) CF
Kole Calhoun (L) RF
Jonah Heim (S) C
Nathaniel Lowe (L) 1B
Josh H. Smith (L) LF
Ezequiel Duran (R) 3B
Brad Miller (L) DH
SP - Dane Dunning
Batting average: Josh Bell -- .295
Home runs: Juan Soto -- 14
RBI: Josh Bell -- 44
Wins: Josiah Gray -- 6
ERA: Josiah Gray -- 3.95
Batting average: Nathaniel Lowe -- .274
Home runs: Corey Seager -- 15
RBI: Adolis Garcia -- 45
Wins: Martin Perez -- 5
ERA: Martin Perez -- 1.96
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