Rangers look to start win streak against Rays

MLB

The Texas Rangers ended their nine-game skid Friday night and will look to start a winning streak Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington, Texas.

A 5 1/3-inning scoreless effort by starter Kyle Gibson put the Rangers back into the win column for the first time since May 23 as Texas held on for a 5-4 victory over the Rays.

In his Bally Sports Southwest interview, second baseman Nick Solak credited the boisterous crowd with an assist in the win.

“They make so much noise. It’s really fun to win in front of them,” said Solak, a former Tampa Bay farmhand who went 3-for-4 and is batting .452 against the Rays.

Added Texas manager Chris Woodward: “We had our best pitcher on the mound, with the fans, and it just gave us a lot of momentum. You’d have never known we’d lost nine in a row.”

While the right-handed Gibson led the way, the middle contest of the three-game set will feature two lefties — Tampa Bay’s Rich Hill (4-2, 3.32 ERA) and Texas’ Kolby Allard (1-1, 3.38).

After a slow start to 2021, Hill, 41, has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball over his last seven starts dating back to April 26’s outing against the Oakland Athletics.

In 40 2/3 innings, he swept his curveball up to the plate and fanned 46 batters while sporting a 1.11 ERA. Hill went 3-2 in that span of starts, most recently being the pitcher of record in the Rays’ 3-1 win in the Bronx on Monday — his third win over the Yankees this season.

Named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month earlier this week, Hill has turned his game around after posting a chunky 8.82 ERA in his first four starts — surrendering four earned runs in each of his first four outings.

“Thrilled that he got it,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “Congrats to him. I didn’t go back and look at stats and what pitchers had done, but it was certainly hard to envision anybody had been better.”

Over his 17-year career in the majors, Hill has made just four appearances — two starts — against the Rangers, posting a 1-0 mark and a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings.

The Rays placed first baseman Ji-Man Choi (groin strain) on the 10-day injured list Friday.

A former first-round draft pick (14th overall, 2015) of the Atlanta Braves, Allard has pitched in relief in all but one of his appearances in 2021, making his first start on May 27 in a 5-0 loss in Seattle.

Allard yielded two runs on just two hits in his four-inning outing, striking out four and walking one. But the hits were back-to-back solo smashes by Tom Murphy and Jacob Nottingham — enough to put the 23-year-old Anaheim native on the hook for the loss.

“I felt pretty strong one through four,” Allard said of his 19th career start. “I hadn’t thrown into the fourth this year, so I didn’t think they were going to let me go too much past that, but I felt good pretty much all the way through.”

Over his career, Allard has made one start and one relief appearance against the Rays, resulting in no record and a high 7.20 ERA after allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings pitched.

–Field Level Media

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