The Texas Rangers need a win Sunday to avoid being swept by the San Diego Padres.
With Saturday night’s 7-4 win, the Padres have won seven straight games against the Rangers. Six of those wins have come in the past two seasons, with the Padres managed by former Rangers aide Jayce Tingler.
And four of those wins have come at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where the teams will meet again Sunday afternoon with left-hander Adrian Morejon (0-0, 4.50 ERA) starting opposite Rangers right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (0-1, 9.00 ERA).
Morejon has thrown three hitless innings against the Rangers in his career.
Foltynewicz, however, is struggling. He had a 10.13 ERA in spring training, where he gave up 15 hits in eight innings. And in his first start of the regular season, he allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in four innings. Historically, he hasn’t had great success against the Padres. He is 1-2 in four starts against the Padres with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.547 WHIP.
But Foltynewicz isn’t the biggest problem facing Rangers manager Chris Woodward. He sees some light at the end of the tunnel with the 29-year-old.
“He pitches better when he’s fired up,” Woodward recently said of Foltynewicz. “That’s good. But he has to calm his emotions and go out and execute.”
Which is a word that Woodward used to discuss a bigger problem. Execute. Woodward said the Rangers stopped executing Saturday after building a 4-3 lead through five innings.
“These are games we have to find a way to win,” he said. “We have to be able to execute when we have a chance to win … slow down the heart rate and take advantage of opportunities. We have to do better.”
Particularly against the Padres, who are led by two men who met while in the Rangers’ organization — Tingler and general manager A.J. Preller.
Tingler was nearing the end of his playing career as a minor-league outfielder in the Rangers’ system in 2006 when Preller, who then was the director of professional and international scouting, approached Tingler about helping launch the Rangers’ Dominican Republic program.
Eight years later, the Padres snatched Preller from the Rangers. And five years after that, Preller dipped back into the family tree and hired Tingler as manager. They are working to reverse years of Padres’ underachievement.
“We have fun on this team,” said center fielder Trent Grisham, who has four hits, including a decisive home run Saturday night, since being activated from the injured list before the series opener on Friday. “When I was away, I really missed the fun.”
The fun could be growing for the Padres as players come off the injured list. Relief pitcher Austin Adams (elbow) returned Saturday. Starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet is expected to rejoin the team next week in Pittsburgh. And catcher Austin Nola (fractured middle finger on left hand) and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (partial dislocation of his left shoulder) could return within two weeks.
“We’re getting closer to being full strength,” Tingler said.
–Field Level Media