The Texas Rangers couldn't feel much better going into their series opener against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night. The Rangers return home after going 7-3 on a 10-game road trip on the West Coast, capped with an 11-3 victory over the Oakland A's on Sunday
The Braves, on the other hand, have lost five of their last eight and are riding a four-game losing streak. They were just swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto, blowing a lead in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss on Sunday
"We had an opportunity to win the game and we couldn't close the deal," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's frustrating, but this game is frustrating.
As the old saying goes, momentum is only as good as your next day's starter.
Atlanta hopes to get back to its winning ways behind veteran right-hander Charlie Morton. Morton (4-3) is coming off a solid start, allowing two runs over six innings against Boston on Tuesday.
Morton, who will be making his 330th career start, is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA over six career starts vs. the Rangers. He last faced the Rangers in 2018, although he has pitched at Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020. Morton was the Tampa Bay Rays' Game 3 starter for the 2020 World Series, which was held at Globe Life Field amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Morton allowed five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings against the eventual champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Speaking of that Dodgers team, it featured shortstop Corey Seager, who is now with the Texas Rangers. Reports indicate that Seager (hamstring) could be activated off the injured list on Monday
Seager has been sidelined since sustaining the hamstring injury during a game on April 11. Seager was hitting .359 this season before his injury.
Outside of Seager's status, another question mark surrounding the Rangers is who will start the game. As of Sunday night, the starter was listed as TBA
Of note, Cody Bradford did not make his scheduled start for Triple-A Round Rock on Sunday, according to Jeff Wilson of Rangers Today. Bradford is 5-1 with a 0.91 ERA over seven starts this season
"I know nothing, except that Bradford has pitched well enough to be in the majors," Wilson wrote on Twitter.
Bradford, a 2019 sixth-round pick out of Baylor, would be making his big-league debut if he is the starter. That's not the easiest task against a Braves lineup that features one of baseball's hottest players, Ronald Acuna Jr., who has a 1.077 OPS, four home runs and nine RBIs this month
Still, the Rangers have to feel good about their chances these days. This is a team that broke open Sunday's game at the A's with an eight-run eighth inning, highlighted Adolis Garcia's grand slam
The Rangers are 10 games over .500, sitting at 25-15 for their best 40-game start since 2012
As Rangers outfielder Robbie Grossman told The Dallas Morning News after Sunday's game, "It's going to be a fun summer in Dallas.
Texas and Atlanta met for a three-game series last season in Arlington, Texas, with the Rangers going 2-1. Last year's series was the first between them since 2017
--Field Level Media