Not to completely rip off the beloved American adaptation of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but…
Welcome to Spring Training baseball in 2021, where it seems like everything is made up, and the points don’t matter.
The Texas Rangers fell to the Kansas City Royals by a score of 3-2 in the Cactus League opener on Sunday afternoon in Surprise. It could have been a lot worse, but Rangers manager Chris Woodward rolled the second and fifth innings with only two outs. The Royals had the bases loaded in both situations.
“Yeah, it sucks. I don’t like it,” Woodward said. “Obviously, we’re going to try to limit that as much as possible.”
As a part of many health and safety protocols implemented to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the MLB’s 2021 Operations Manual allows for managers of a defensive team to end an inning prior to three outs following any completed plate appearance, provided the pitcher has thrown more than 20 pitches. The rule is in effect through March 13.
Both Nick Vincent and Joe Gatto were around the 30-pitch mark when Woodward signaled to roll the innings.
In addition, Sunday’s spring opener lasted only six innings. The game was scheduled for only six innings, in accordance with 2021 spring training guidelines, which allow for shortened contests upon mutual agreement between the teams.
-On the brighter side of things, Joey Gallo got off his spring off to a great start with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Gallo is coming off a rough season at the plate in 2020, and is out to prove that his breakout 2019 season was not a fluke.
-Sunday’s starter Wes Benjamin breezed through his one inning of work, giving up no runs on two hits. Benjamin usually has no problem hitting the strike zone, so Sunday’s game plan was rather simple.
“To be honest, the game plan today was put the ball in play and have them swing at it,” Benjamin said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, working with Jonah [Heim] the first time here.”
-Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzmán turned a number of heads throughout the offseason when he won the Dominican Winter League MVP. With a new sense of confidence, Guzmán carried that over into Cactus League action on Sunday, going 1-for-2 with two quality at-bats.
“I feel really good,” Guzmán said. “I feel like I’m doing the same thing I was doing in winter ball, with the same approach. I feel like I’m on time with every pitch.”
-For the first time since March 11, 2020, the Rangers played in front of live fans. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas played the entire 2020 season without paying customers in attendance.
Fans were not permitted back into ballparks until the 2020 National League Championship Series and World Series — both of which took place at Globe Life Field as a neutral site.
In accordance with the City of Surprise, one-third of Surprise Stadium’s capacity can be filled with spectators throughout Cactus League play. Sunday’s announced attendance was 2,024.
-The Rangers continue their spring slate on Monday, hosting the San Francisco Giants at Surprise Stadium. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start for Texas.