ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Rangers central field defender Eli White was initially unsure if he would be able to catch. He just jumped as high as possible against the wall.
“Looks like he just kept going up,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “I thought he jumped up too early and he just kept getting up.”
White did make a spectacular leap to pick up Homer from three races in Ji-Man Choi in the first inning, and later he made a long home run when the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Race 9-5 on Monday night.
After White rushed to the warning track and jumped, his upper body was well above the 6-foot wall that stood in front of the Race bullpen in the left center. His left arm was fully extended over his head when he made a grip more than 400 feet from the home stove.
“It was definitely the best game I’ve ever done,” said White, primarily a midfielder for most of his early time as a minor. “It was the game I’ve been dreaming of ever since I moved to the field.”
Glenn Otto (3-2), a right-handed rookie who walked and hit the battered man before, raised his glove to say goodbye to his teammate. Choi even smiled about it.
“If there were any signs that the night wouldn’t go our way, maybe it should have,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “G-Man got a lot of that baseball.”
Otto said he had never seen or participated in anything like it, calling White “one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever been with … maybe Spider-Man.”
White, who rated his vertical jump at 40 inches, smiled when compared to his favorite superhero – and when that moment appeared on television at the club.
Jonah Heim is also hamred, and Cole Calhoun has spent three races for Texas (23-24), which with Tuesday’s victory could reach 0.500 for the first time this season. Mitch Harver was 3 on 4 with gait and double races after missing three previous games with a slight sprain of his left knee.
Rays starter Drew Rasmussen (5-2) went through the first three beats he faced and threw two wild pitches before Calhoun went the other way. When Calhoun launched one ball across the open left side of the home field due to a change in defense, Texas increased the score to 2-0.
After Josh Smith played in Texas for the second single in his first major league, White went straight to center field when the ball flew out of reach of Brett Phillips, who was jumping. White’s second homer of the season gave the Rangers a 4-1 lead.
Smith and White, who finished last two in Texas, both received three strikes each. Smith became the sixth player in Texas with three hits in his MLB debut, the first since Nomar Mazar in 2016.
The Whites had a single in the sixth, ahead of another single and another good game in defense – sliding fishing in the shallow right center to finish the Rays eighth.
“This guy is the best athlete in our organization,” Woodward said. “So it’s not surprising for all of us who know him.”
Otto matched his longest career, making six innings and coming out with a 9-2 advantage. Only one race was earned when the right-hander knocked out four, passed three and threw 60 of 99 shots in his career for punches.
Rasmussen, 5-0 in his six previous starts, has given up five runs in three innings. The first three beats were the only ones he walked on, and he knocked out three.
The Rays had three straight RBI singles games in the seventh inning from left-hander Matt Moore. All five bouncers who collided with Moore reached base (four strikes and a walk). … Choi was easily thrown to finish third when attempting a double on a ball that bounced off the wall to the left. It was the 23rd place in the MLB for Tampa Bay, made at bases this season.
Rays: SS Wander Franco was replaced by a pinch runner after a single in the ninth. He turned hard around the first base, but stopped and cautiously returned to the bag when he felt tension in the right ATV that had been bothering him for weeks.
Rangers: Universal INF / OF Brad Miller was put on a 10-day IL with a right hip hit. He was removed from Sunday’s game in Auckland with tension in his hip.
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (3-2) has allowed no more than one earned run in each of the last seven starts and is leading in major tournaments with an 1.60 ERA. He did not give up the home run in 59 1/3 innings, which was the longest active series in major tournaments since last season. Last July 30, Tampa Bay hit three Homer from Perez when he was exhibiting for Boston.
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