Thursday Newsletter time: Nick Solak's 16-pitch at-bat draws raves as Texas Rangers win fourth straight
The second baseman, who is batting .328 since returning from the minors, fouled off 11 pitches before beating out a run-scoring infield hit.
Wins are a good thing, even if it hurts a rebuilding team’s draft position and even if the wins come against underachieving and/or just terrible teams.
The Texas Rangers won their fourth straight game Wednesday, completing a two-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. If the season had ended Wednesday, the D’backs would have had the first pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and the Rangers would have picked fourth.
Their 8-5 victory in a game that took forever to play left them 1 1/2 games better than Pittsburgh in the standings. Manager Chris Woodward wants to win, not tank, so he’s very happy with his ballclub.
One of the players he should be happiest with is second baseman Nick Solak.
Solak didn’t drive in the most runs Wednesday or have the most hits, but his teammates gave him the honorary cowboy at that is awarded after each victory.
Why? Well, how about a 16-pitch at-bat that ended with him legging out an infield single for an RBI.
When Woodward throws out his buzzwords like grit and compete, that at-bat in the Rangers’ three-run fourth inning might be the definition. He noticed it, and, obviously, the players in the dugout took note as well.
“Absolutely,” said Lowe, who tripled ahead of Solak and scored the run. “You feed off of one, two, three foul balls, and then all of the sudden he works another ball and then another couple foul balls and then, oh, you’re in a really quality at-bat and then to beat it out there after however many foul balls was huge. It’s really cool to watch.”
Solak fouled off 11 pitches, including five straight before his chopper to shortstop.
It was the first of two infield hits for Solak. He also threw in a walk and a stolen base, and is hitting .328 (20 for 61) since returning from Triple A Round Rock. His average has climbed 16 points to .241.
That’s not a great season, but he has a chance to finish it off strong and build momentum heading into the offseason and spring training.
And the manager is happy.
“Solak’s at-bat, it was one of those goose-bump at-bats,” Woodward said. “You just keep fouling off pitches, fouling off pitches, and you just knew there was going to be an aftereffect of that.”
Joey Gallo took a seat Tuesday night, with his season average at .196 and his average with the New York Yankees at .130 since being traded to the New York Yankees.
Manager Aaron Boone gave Gallo a day off to “reset.” Fans might want a do-over on the trade with the Rangers, based on the boos they have showered upon the player who was expected to boost the offense rather than drag it down.
The one thing Gallo has battled in his career is himself. He wants to be a productive hitter and puts an immense amount of pressure on himself to perform. He could get away with prolonged slumps with the Rangers because there was an understanding of the kind of hitter he is and the media pool and fan base are far more tame.
“Obviously, playing in New York, you understand that is going to be part of it,” Gallo told reporters. “They want a winning product. It’s just part of the business. We are professional baseball players. You’ve got to go out there and do your job.”
Gallo was back in the Yankees’ lineup Wednesday, batting sixth and going 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored in a 6-3 loss. He’s not the only problem on a team that has lost five straight games, but he’s shouldering much of the blame.
Labor Day weekend was a good one for the Wilsons. Busy but good. If you were in the same boat and couldn’t find the time for the Texas Rangers Newsletter, here are some links in case you missed it.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And again. Enjoy. See you Friday.