The Texas Rangers left Friday night’s opener of their three-game series with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays with something more to remember than a loss.
Rangers third baseman Josh Jung hit a solo home in his first major-league plate appearance in the third inning of the 4-3 loss. He also had a single and stole a base in his long-anticipated debut, and he’s expected back in the lineup Saturday when the two teams meet again in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers (59-78) also will remember fighting back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning on Corey Seager’s double. Danny Jansen, however, had an RBI single in the top of the ninth to give the Blue Jays (77-60) the win.
Toronto improved to 7-1 on a 10-game road trip that has two games remaining.
Texas has lost 11 of 12, but Jung’s debut injected some needed excitement around the team.
“There were goosebumps,” Jung said. “Just goosebumps. It was pretty special. The biggest thing I had to tell myself tonight was to breathe through it all. But it was a reminder that it was a start.”
“The crowd was definitely energized,” said Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley, who presented Jung with the home run ball after the game. “And good for him for that. There was excitement in the crowd. And excitement in the dugout.”
Jung played in 31 games with Triple-A Round Rock and the Arizona Complex League Rangers (Rookie) this season, batting .266 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He spent most of the season doing rehabilitation work following surgery on Feb. 23 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, an injury suffered while lifting weights in February.
The Rangers selected the San Antonio native in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2019 draft out of Texas Tech.
Jung, 24, entered Friday as the Rangers’ No. 1 prospect and 39th overall prospect in baseball. according to MLB Pipeline.
The Blue Jays are striving to continue to win consistently, avoiding the dips that have plagued them this season.
“What would be nice is if we continue to play complete baseball for more than a six-game stretch,” Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman said before the series opener against Texas. “But I do like the way we are trending and it feels like the guys are really on it right now.”
The Blue Jays had a similar run in mid-August when they went 6-1 on a road trip against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
“We just have to remember that right after we won six out of seven inn Boston and New York, we dropped two series in a row at home,” Chapman said.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Kevin Gausman (11-9, 3.12 ERA) on Saturday,
In eight career games (seven starts) against the Rangers, he is 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA .
The Rangers will start right-hander Kohei Arihara (1-2, 5.29), who has never faced Toronto.
Texas selected Jung and recalled Josh Smith from Round Rock on Friday. Brad Miller (hip strain) was placed on the injured list and Ezequiel Duran was optioned to Triple-A..
Toronto put Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (hamstring) on the IL and recalled Otto Lopez from Triple-A Buffalo.