Rangers look to ignite spark vs. suddenly hot Marlins

The Texas Rangers displayed signs of breaking out of their May slumber with a modest three-game winning streak.

But their optimistic outlook took a blow Friday in the opener of a three-game series with the host Miami Marlins as the defending World Series champions continue to underachieve.

The Rangers will look to get off the mat on Saturday afternoon when they face the suddenly hot Marlins in the middle game of the set.

Texas has dropped 13 of its last 18 games after falling 8-2 in the series opener.

“Offensively, we didn’t do much,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said afterward. “We just couldn’t get things going. … “You have to play your best ball to beat anybody. We did not do that tonight.”

Corey Seager doubled in the ninth to stretch his hitting streak to 13 games and his on-base streak to 23. But the Marlins kept him in the yard after Seager hit eight homers in the previous eight games.

Overall, Texas had just six hits, and no Ranger had more than one. Josh Smith hit his third homer of the season on a night in which the Rangers were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

“We came out a little sluggish, I’d say,” Smith said. “You just can’t fall behind against a team playing good baseball.”

Marcus Semien went 1-for-4 in his return to the Texas lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had started 349 straight games prior to the day off.

The Marlins have improved their caliber of play with wins in 10 of their last 15 games. Their rise follows a horrendous 11-32 start.

Jesus Sanchez led the way in the opener when he recorded his first three-hit outing of the season. Sanchez hit a three-run homer and also doubled twice during a stellar performance.

Miami has 17 runs in its last two games, beginning with a 9-1 road rout over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday.

“I’ve been seeing a very focused team,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “Everyone has been looking for their pitches and executing on them.”

Sanchez has homered in the past two games while going 5-for-8 to raise his batting average to .245. But he was showing signs of putting things together during back-to-back 0-for-4 efforts earlier this week against the Padres.

“On the West Coast, it felt like something was about to click,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said. “That San Diego series, he was hitting the ball really well. And today, it was loud. The guy can hit the ball as hard as anybody in the big leagues.

“He pretty much won the game for us tonight.”

Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (2-3, 3.35 ERA) will start for the Rangers on Saturday against Miami left-hander Ryan Weathers (3-4, 3.16).

Lorenzen won his first two starts of the season and has since gone 0-3 in six outings. However, he has been stellar over his last three turns, allowing just three runs and eight hits in 19 1/3 innings.

Lorenzen, 32, received a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday when he gave up one run and three hits over six innings.

Lorenzen is 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in 16 career appearances (five starts) against the Marlins. Josh Bell is 9-for-29 with two homers off Lorenzen while Sanchez is 2-for-7 with a homer.

Weathers was 0-3 over a six-start span before silencing the Diamondbacks on Sunday for his win since April 16. He gave up four hits, one walk and struck out seven over six shutout innings.

The 24-year-old has allowed one earned run and nine hits over 21 innings in his last three outings.

Weathers is 1-1 with a 11.12 ERA in two career relief appearances against Texas. Seager, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is 3-for-11 with a homer and two doubles against Weathers, who began his career in the same division with the San Diego Padres.

–Field Level Media