MLB Rangers turn to Jon Gray to continue starters’ hold on Rays

The Texas Rangers are riding some stellar starting pitching, while the Tampa Bay Rays are looking for someone to step up now that they will be without Wander Franco for at least 10 days.

The two teams will meet Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won the first two.

Rangers’ starters have given up one earned run, and two total, in 13 innings in the first two games of the series. Martin Perez threw seven shutout innings on Tuesday in a 3-0 win.

Glenn Otto on Monday allowed two runs (one earned) in six innings.

Wednesday’s game will feature the pitching matchup of right-hander Jon Gray (1-2, 5.56 ERA) for Texas and left-hander Jeffrey Springs (2-2, 1.62) for Tampa Bay.

Perez, John King and Joe Barlow combined to retire the final 22 Rays’ batters on Tuesday.

“As a staff, we went 22 straight,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Seven perfect innings.”

It’s already been a tough series for the Rays, physically, as shortstop Wander Franco has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right quadriceps strain.

The 21-year-old switch-hitting sensation had been managing playing through discomfort in the leg since mid-April. But in his final at-bat on Monday, a single in the ninth inning, he pulled up rounding first base.

“We want to get Wander right,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I think it’s pretty obvious, he’s been playing through a lot as of late. Hasn’t quite been himself.”

Franco, batting .270 with four home runs and 19 RBIs, had been struggling the past few weeks, hitting .170 over his previous 15 games. However, he had three hits on Monday.

“I think that’s why I hadn’t been playing as well as I have been,” Franco said through an interpreter Monday night.

Taylor Walls started at shortstop in place of Franco, and he had one of three hits by the Rays in Tuesday’s loss.

Woodward, meanwhile, is monitoring the workloads of his players because Texas is in the middle of a stretch of 16 straight games between days off.

On Tuesday, the Rangers players were allowed to arrive a little later to the ballpark.

“We just played a lot of games,” Woodward said. “Any extra hours we can spend away from here, so they can rest their bodies is beneficial.”

Gray will be facing the Rays for the first time.

Springs (2-2, 1.62) will be making his sixth start and 14th appearance on Wednesday. The outing will be a bit of a homecoming for the southpaw, who broke in with the Rangers in 2018.

Springs was a 30th round pick by the Rangers from Appalachian State in 2015, and he went 5-2 with a 4.90 ERA in two seasons (2018-19) with Texas.

He faced the Rangers three times last season, all in relief, and pitched 2 1/2 scoreless innings.

–Field Level Media

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