ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) All-Star shortstop Corey Seager was ready to get back in the lineup for the Texas Rangers. Dane Dunning could be trying to stay in the starting rotation after the team’s big additions this week.
Dunning had a career-high 11 strikeouts, Seager hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat coming off the injured list and the Rangers maintained their slim lead in the AL West with a 11-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
The Rangers went ahead to stay on Seager’s 16th homer in the first inning, when he pulled a shot to right-center for a 2-0 lead off Dylan Cease (4-5). Seager, who had missed nine games with a sprained right thumb, added an RBI single for the first of five runs the Rangers scored in the second.
“Takes one day of live BP, says he’s good to go and first at-bat ... really, really incredible,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
“At this point, it’s kind of a pain tolerance thing,” said Seager, adding he felt fine. “So I felt like I could go, they were okay with me going, so we went.”
Dunning (9-4) had retired 20 batters in a row, the last five of those strikeouts, before No. 9 hitter Seby Zavala’s two-out homer in the eighth inning for Chicago’s first runs in three games. That was only the third hit allowed by Dunning, who walked only one against his former team.
Marcus Semien and Josh Jung also hit two-run homers for Texas (62-46), which was 3-6 while Seager was on the IL.
The White Sox (43-66) lost for the 11th time in 14 games to fall 23 games under .500 for the first time since being 62-100 at the end of the 2018 season.
Cease allowed seven runs on seven hits over 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing in his 113 career starts, coming a day after trade deadline passed with him still in a White Sox uniform. He is 1-2 over his past 12 starts, but gave up two earned runs or less in seven of them.
A loss in Seager’s return would have dropped the Rangers into second place in their division for only the second day this season. They still have a half-game lead over reigning World Series champion Houston (62-47), which completed a three-game sweep of Cleveland earlier Wednesday.
The White Sox began the game with back-to-back routine groundouts to Seager before an infield single on a slow roller that the shortstop fielded cleanly They then had another single and a walk to lead the bases.
“Isn’t it funny how it always finds you,” Seager said.
Dunning, who made his MLB debut with the White Sox in 2020 before being traded to Texas for Lance Lynn after that season, didn’t allow another base runner until the homer on his 101st and final pitch.
Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and left-hander Jordan Montgomery, their trade deadline acquisitions, are set to start the next two games for the Rangers. There will be some adjustments to the rotation.
Dunning began the season in the bullpen before Jacob deGrom’s season-ending elbow surgery. Andrew Heaney, who had 11 strikeouts while throwing two-hit ball over six innings in Tuesday’s series-opening win, could also be a candidate to move to the bullpen.
“Competition is a good thing. And (Dunning) goes out there and just is right on. And so I’m sure that might have been a motivation,” Bochy said. “Hopefully this gets contagious. ... I think it does fire up everybody, the whole rotation.”
The White Sox have struck out 28 times and walked once in two games in Texas. ... Chicago manager Pedro Grifol was ejected by home plate umpire Adam Hamari in the middle of the third inning for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. ... Semien’s 16th homer was confirmed on replay in the sixth after Chicago challenged the play. The ball skimmed the inside of the left-field pole when coming down.
White Sox: Closer Liam Hendriks, who made a comeback this season from cancer, had surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The typical recovery time after Tommy John surgery is 12-14 months, which means the right-hander could miss all of next season. His procedure was done in Texas by Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister.
Rangers: INF Brad Miller was placed on the 10-day IL because of a strained left hamstring when Seager was activated.
Scherzer, acquired last weekend from the Mets, makes his Rangers debut in the series finale Thursday. The 39-year-old right-hander, the active leader with 3,314 career strikeouts, was 9-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 19 starts for New York this season. RHP Touki Toussaint (1-3) pitches for the White Sox.
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