After a week of weaker teams, the Rangers ran into the first place Astros. Dallas Keuchel resdiscovered his stuff, which means he was not going to allow much. He went seven innings and gave up two runs.
And in another spirited start, Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up five in six innings, the victim of three long balls.
But the positive story from last night was the returned of Ronald Guzman from concussion protocol. He came back and immediately delivered, going 2-for-4, singling and scoring a run in the third, and doubling and scoring a run in the fifth.
His batting average isn’t where he would want it to be, but he has been quietly productive.
In fact, according to Baseball-Reference.com, Guzman’s current production would net out, over a 162-game schedule, at 19 home runs and 81 RBIs. That’s a pretty good rookie season.
He’s always been a productive minor league hitter, and that is starting to show in the big leagues.
Having his bat in there lengthens the lineup and gives the Rangers one more offensive threat, even if it’s not quite fully baked yet.
The fact that he got two hits off vintage Keuchel is encouraging. He seems to be more in the mold of a Nomar Mazara hitter than the strikeout or nothing types populating the Rangers lineup like Joey Gallo or Rougned Odor.
Ronald Guzman, in fact, makes Joey Gallo expendable. Gallo’s propensity for the long home run still makes him attractive to some teams. The Rangers would be smart to cash in when they can, when his value is still high, and package him for pitching. That probably won’t happen at the deadline because he isn’t what the currently contending teams are looking for, and chances of them dealing a pitcher now is slim. But the Rangers should see if they can turn him into a quality arm in the offseason.
Guzman is a more all-round offensive threat, and a better defender. He seems to have no fear at the plate and has been able to adjust and learn as he goes.
And maybe, just maybe, the Rangers have the start of a thing.
Guzman and Mazara.
Mazara and Guzman.
Either way you stack it, they can be a nice one-two offensive threat in the lineup for the next few years. That’s the kind of thing you can build around.
Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.50) vs. Mike Minor (6-4, 4.64)
Game time: 6:05