Rangers welcome Padres, hope to draw from Langford’s big day

For the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, the first half of the season didn’t go as planned.

But rookie outfielder Wyatt Langford sent them home on a happy flight from Baltimore Sunday night by hitting for the cycle during an 11-2 rout, capping the feat with a three-run homer in the eighth.

Langford and Texas will try to build on that impressive victory Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas, when they open a three-game series with the visiting San Diego Padres.

Making the accomplishment even more remarkable is the fact that Langford is the first MLB player this year to hit for the cycle. Last year’s first-round pick out of Florida pulled it off in his 60th MLB game.

“In his first year to hit for the cycle, that’s quite a milestone,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “Guys go through their whole careers and don’t get one. We were all pulling for him and he didn’t miss it, either.”

“I was trying to hit a home run,” Langford said, “but in a game like baseball, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Becoming the 10th player in franchise history to hit for the cycle, Langford helped Texas score its most runs in a game since May 8. The outcome capped an 11-16 June that dropped the team eight games behind Seattle in the American League West.

The Rangers will hand the ball to Nathan Eovaldi (4-3, 3.45 ERA) for the series opener. Eovaldi received a no-decision on Wednesday in a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Milwaukee, yielding nine hits and five runs over seven innings with a walk and four strikeouts. In six career starts against San Diego, Eovaldi is 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA.

He’ll face a team that, a 4-1 loss Sunday at Boston notwithstanding, has been on an offensive tear in winning nine of its last 11 games. The Padres have scored 74 runs in that span, getting contributions up and down a lineup that’s been without Fernando Tatis Jr. (stress reaction) for most of that surge.

San Diego will send Dylan Cease (7-6, 3.84) to the mound, fresh off arguably his best start of the year. He gave up just one hit and two walks in seven shutout innings Wednesday against Washington, fanning nine in an 8-5 win that secured a series sweep.

It was just the second win in six decisions for Cease, who’s 3-1 with a 4.82 ERA in six career starts against Texas, fanning 39 in 28 innings.

Cease is being bumped up a day to open the series as the Padres are taking advantage of a less strenuous part of their schedule. They enter July having played the most games of any MLB team at 88 but play the least this month with 22 thanks to a whopping nine off-days, including the All-Star break.

“We’re not going to skip anybody,” San Diego manager Mike Shildt said of his plans for the starting rotation. “We may just reconfigure it a little bit.”

That means rookie Adam Mazur, who last worked on Tuesday night, will go on Wednesday in the series’ middle game. Randy Vasquez, who was knocked out Friday night in the fifth inning after taking a line drive off his forearm, is scheduled to pitch on Thursday.

–Field Level Media