John Hicks has made quite a first impression with the Texas Rangers, who face the Detroit Tigers in the rubber match of a three-game series on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas.
Hicks, who played for Detroit for parts of the 2016-19 seasons, joined the Rangers after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on June 29.
The 31-year-old catcher went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs on Tuesday in Texas’ 10-5 win, becoming the first player in franchise history to hit four homers in his first four games with the team.
“I don’t know what to say,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “This guy has been a spark ever since we called him up. Can’t say enough about him. He’s earned some more playing time, that’s for sure.”
Detroit saw its three-game winning streak come to an end Tuesday and will need to rely on its bullpen again in the series finale.
Jose Urena, Detroit’s Tuesday starter, lasted just 4 2/3 innings, and the Tigers are planning on another abbreviated outing for right-hander Casey Mize (5-5, 3.55 ERA) on Wednesday.
Mize allowed two runs over three innings in an 8-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
The Tigers are exercising caution with their 24-year-old rookie, who has thrown 91 1/3 innings in 16 starts this season.
Last year, he pitched 28 1/3 innings after making his major league debut in August.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do in September, but we’re going to be very proactive on how we’re going to handle our young pitching,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We addressed this with Casey a while ago. None of us really wanted this day to come because he’s been on such a roll, but we have to be smart with what we’re doing with his workload.”
Texas’ scheduled Wednesday starter, Kyle Gibson (6-0, 1.98 ERA), boasts the American League’s lowest ERA. He will join teammates Joey Gallo and Adolis Garcia at next Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
The 33-year-old right-hander received a no-decision on Friday against the Seattle Mariners after giving up one run on five hits with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
Gibson has gone 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in six starts covering 35 1/3 innings since returning from the injured list on June 4.
The Indiana native is 10-9 with a 5.43 ERA in 23 career games (22 starts) against Detroit while limiting Jeimer Candelario to a pair of hits in 14 at-bats.
The Rangers received a welcome boost Tuesday from outfielder David Dahl, who had three hits and two RBIs in his best game since returning from the injured list on Thursday.
Dahl struggled with Colorado last season after hitting .302 with 15 homers for the Rockies in 2019. He batted sixth on Tuesday behind Hicks.
Detroit center fielder Daz Cameron has missed the past two games due to a sprained right big toe and is listed as day-to-day. Akil Baddoo is 0-for-9 from the leadoff spot while starting in Cameron’s place.
One bright spot in the Tigers’ offense has been the play of catcher Jake Rogers, who homered on Tuesday and is 7-for-23 (.304) with two homers during a six-game hitting streak.
–Field Level Media