04 Jun

time to step it up

At 29-31 and 4.5 games out of first place in the American League West, the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers are not where they want to be. Neither is Nathaniel Lowe, the Mississippi State alum who has manned first base for the club since 2021. Lowe is batting just .256 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games after starting the season on the injured list with a strained oblique. He has just eight hits and no homers in his last 46 at-bats and has been sitting lately against left-handed starters. Two years ago, Lowe won a Silver Slugger (.302, 27 homers). His numbers dipped in 2023 to .262 with 17 bombs, but he won a Gold Glove and hit three homers during the team’s run to the championship. Lowe, 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in a 2-1 loss to Detroit on Monday night, figures to be in the starting lineup tonight against Tigers right-hander Jack Flaherty. The Rangers have been beset by injuries this season, including the hard-luck case of ex-MSU star Justin Foscue, who got his first big league hit on April 7 and went on the injured list the next day with a dreaded oblique strain. He is currently on the 60-day IL. … Like Lowe, former DeSoto Central High standout Austin Riley is having a sub-par season for a scuffling Atlanta team that finds itself 7 games back of first-place Philadelphia in the National League East. An All-Star and Silver Slugger winner last year, Riley is hitting .234 with three homers and 19 RBIs. After sitting for 12 days with a side injury, Riley is 5-for-28 with one RBI in seven games since he returned to the lineup. He hasn’t homered since May 3. He has averaged 36 homers the past three seasons. Injuries also have been an issue for the Braves (33-24), whose streak of six straight division titles could be in real jeopardy. They begin a series at Fenway Park against Boston tonight.

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