ARLINGTON — The Rangers broke up the Half a Billion Boys.
For the first time since they got together, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager did not bat back-to-back when both were in the Rangers lineup Monday night. In a move with designed with dual purposes in mind, manager Chris Woodward decided to insert Adolis García in the No. 2 spot between the two.
The hope was that the Rangers could get off to a faster start against lefty Framber Valdez and that the pitcher’s fastball-heavy mix would allow García to be slightly more aggressive at the plate.
While the Rangers want Garcia to be more disciplined against pitches that he can’t handle, they want to encourage him to stay aggressive in his hot zones. In the club’s first 15 games, Garcia took 13 fastballs over what is considered the heart of the strike zone. That’s an area where he can punish pitches.
“I’d like to get more attack,” Woodward said. “But his DNA from him as a hitter has always been swing, swing, swing at everything that’s coming. And he’s been really good at trying to learn and understand how selective he is. He’s got to trust his training from him and all the things he’s been working on and then he can put on the brakes when he needs to. But he’s got to dip his toe back in the deep end and get back a little more on the aggressive side.”
The first attempt did not get immediate results, but the swap did eventually pay dividends.
In his first at-bat, Garcia took a pair of sinkers out of the zone to get ahead 2-0 then hit a third consecutive sinker to second base for a ground out. In his second of him, García grounded out on the second pitch of the at-bat. He struck out in his third of him, chasing a pair of pitches below the zone.
Valdez, who uses his fastball more often than most others, is a good matchup against to encourage swinging early. He’s allowed hitters a .385 batting average when they put either the first or second pitch of the at-bat in play. The downside: His fastball from him is a sinker and it can lead to a lot of ground ball outs.
After Valdez left though, the rearranged top did get results. In the seventh, as the Rangers took the lead, the Semien-García-Seager troika each had singles in a two-run rally. In the eighth, García’s bases-loaded double gave the Rangers the final margin of victory.
In a pinch: The Rangers are finding another advantage to their outfield platoon arrangement. It keeps those who don’t start more involved because they are relatively certain they will appear in the game at some point.
Take the case of Willie Calhoun, for example. He led off seventh as a pinch hitter for Nick Solak and began the rally with a double. He’s reached base three times in five pinch hit appearances, including a homer. Prior to this season, Calhoun had been 4 for 23 as a pinch hitter with no extra-base hits.
“This is part of the role,” Calhoun said. “The staff does a good job of letting you know what to expect and getting you prepared. My alarm started going off about two innings earlier. You know when you are going to get in. It’s easier to stay engaged.”
Briefly: Yordan Alvarez’s second-inning homer was his 10th in 106 career at-bats against the Rangers. … Adolis García’s leaping, back-handed game-saving catch of Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez’s line drive on Thursday was named the Chevrolet “Electric Play of the Week,” by Major League Baseball. The ball came off the bat at 108 mph and had a .690 expected batting average. It was García’s first time to win the three-year-old award. … García started wearing a molded shield to protect his left hand after being hit on the top of it on Sunday. … All four of the Rangers’ full-season farm clubs were off on Monday.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism