Rangers aim for two-game sweep of D-backs

MLB

There might be reason for cautious optimism around the Texas Rangers, who conclude a two-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday in Phoenix.

The Rangers have won three straight and six of their past nine games, and their pitching has led the surge.

Texas boasts a promising collection of young pitchers, including A.J. Alexy, Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, Kolby Allard, Spencer Howard and Glenn Otto. Alexy who has tossed 11 scoreless innings and allowed two hits in his first two starts.

The string of strong pitching performances continued Tuesday, when Howard and veteran Jordan Lyles combined to allow just three hits in a 3-1 victory over Arizona.

“We’re going to have some competition coming into next year’s camp,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “A lot of these guys are earning jobs. It just speaks volumes about the organization itself and how we’re developing our pitchers.

“If I was a fan, I’d be really excited about what the near future holds.”

The Rangers (50-88) look to carry their momentum into Wednesday’s matchup against Arizona, which has lost four straight and owns the worst record in the National League at 45-94.

The D-backs will turn to Luke Weaver (3-3, 4.11 ERA), who impressed last Wednesday in his first start since May 16 after being sidelined due to shoulder inflammation.

The 28-year-old right-hander allowed one run on four hits over six innings during an 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres. He struck out three with no walks while throwing 79 pitches.

“Everything seemed to be working for him,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “It just was clicking. He stood on his fastball from time to time, and he knew where everything was going. Good to have him back.”

Weaver, who will be making his first career appearance against Texas, owns a 1.32 ERA in five home starts this season compared to an 8.20 mark in four outings away from Chase Field.

Texas will counter with rookie Kohei Arihara (2-3, 6.19 ERA), who faced the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday in his first start since May 8.

The 29-year-old right-hander, who had surgery in late May on his pitching shoulder to repair an aneurysm, tossed 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball while throwing 47 pitches.

“My body feels really good, and my stuff was pretty good,” Arihara said. “I hope to increase my velo a little bit more throughout the season, but it was good. I’m relieved it’s over and I was able to finish it.”

Another reason for the Rangers’ sense of optimism has been the play of DJ Peters, who went 4-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs on Sunday, then added an RBI singles Monday and Tuesday.

The 25-year-old outfielder, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 2, is batting .324 (12-for-37) with four homers and 10 RBIs over his past nine games.

Arizona has lost nine of its past 10 games despite the efforts of outfielder David Peralta, who needs one home run to pass Miguel Montero (97) and move into sole possession of eighth place on the Diamondbacks’ all-time list.

–Field Level Media

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