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Apr 26, 2024 7:08 am

Rangers turn to Nathan Eovaldi in opener vs. Reds

Nathan Eovaldi

The Texas Rangers reside a half-game out of first place in the American League West heading into the opener of their three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

That’s not bad for the defending World Series champions, who have won just one of their last six series.

The Rangers got leapfrogged into the top spot in the division on Thursday afternoon by Seattle after losing the rubber match of a three-game series with the Mariners.

After taking two of three games against both the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays to open the season, Texas has won just one series, taking three of four from the Detroit Tigers from April 15-18. The Rangers have yet to win any of their series against AL West teams, earning a split with Houston but also losing sets to the Astros, Oakland Athletics and the Mariners.

“You want to win series, especially in our division,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said after Thursday’s loss. “They played well today. It was a good ballgame. A bounce here or there, it’s a different ballgame. Still, you have to try and do all you can to get a series.”

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 3.30 ERA), who has lost back-to-back outings, will start Friday night’s game for Texas.

Eovaldi is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati, although two of those came in 2014, when he was pitching for the Miami Marlins. He also faced the Reds last season in Cincinnati and picked up a no-decision in a 7-6 loss, allowing three earned runs on six hits and a walk over six innings while striking out seven.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Graham Ashcraft (3-1, 5.24), who is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one career start against the Rangers. It’s the start of a six-game trip for Cincinnati, a trek that will conclude with a three-game series at San Diego.

The Reds finished a successful 5-2 homestand with a 5-0 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon. Cincinnati began the homestand with a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.

Zack Wheeler held the Reds to one hit over six innings on Thursday, and Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer for the Phillies. Despite the loss, Cincinnati manager David Bell was upbeat afterward.

“It’s been a good homestand,” Bell said. “It would have been great for this one to end up differently.”

The Reds had their chances early against Wheeler, loading the bases in the third inning on walks by Jeimer Candelario and Elly De La Cruz sandwiched around a single by Santiago Espinal. But Wheeler got Spencer Steer to fly out to end the threat.

“We started to get to Wheeler in that one inning,” Bell said. “We made it tough on him. We get a hit there, we’re able to break through, maybe it’s a different game. To his credit, he didn’t allow us to do that.”

The Reds still won the season series from the Phillies 4-3, which could be a key tiebreaker come playoff time.

“Obviously they’re a very good team,” Bell said. “We have a ton of respect for everyone over there and who they are as a team. It’s definitely a sense of accomplishment. We just have to keep going and keep doing our thing and what we need to do to continue to have success and we’ll get to where we need to be.”

–Field Level Media

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