Marcus Semien is leading off every day for the Rangers, and leading the AL in hits and runs

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien is at the top of the Texas Rangers lineup every game, and always impressing the American League hitting leader who bats right after him.

“Just the consistency,” said Rangers shortstop and No. 2 hitter Corey Seager, who himself has 30 home runs and a league-best .336 batting average. “He doesn't really have bad at-bats.”

Semien just became only the fourth player in the majors this season to twice have a four-hit game that included two homers. Both came in a span of four games ahead of a huge series between AL wild-card contenders that starts Monday night, when the Rangers play in Toronto against the All-Star second baseman's former team.

Going into the opener of that four-game series against the Blue Jays, Semien was among only six players in the majors to appear in every one of his team's games — with Seattle third baseman Eugenio Suárez the only other AL player to do it. Semien was hitting .281 with 24 homers and 87 RBIs while leading the AL with 166 hits and 109 runs scored.

“My swing feels good. I always work to make sure my eyes are looking in the right spots and my swing is in a good place,” Semien said. “When both are good, usually it’s better for me.”

And for the Rangers, who are trying for their first winning season and playoff appearance since 2016.

After hitting 45 homers in his only season with the Blue Jays in 2021, Semien signed a $175 million, seven-year contract with Texas. That came at the same time Seager joined the Rangers on a $325 million, 10-year deal.

Semien set a Rangers franchise record Sunday with his AL-best eighth leadoff homer this season. He and Seager went back-to-back on consecutive pitches in the sixth inning of that 9-4 win over Oakland, Semien's other former team.

That was only their sixth victory in a 22-game span that knocked the Rangers (78-64) out of the AL West lead, but got them back within .003 of division foe Seattle (79-64) for the AL's third and final wild-card spot, and only 1 1/2 games behind Toronto (80-63) for the second spot. With 20 games left over the final three weeks of the regular season, they trailed AL West leader Houston by three games.

Both of Semien's homers Sunday, a week before his 33rd birthday, came on the first pitch. So did his leadoff homer off three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander for the first of his two long balls against the Astros in his four-hit game last Wednesday.

“I just want to get a strike early,” Semien said. “There’s been years past when I was a little bit too patient on the first pitches and I got behind. So just trying to get something I can drive.”

Semien also wants to play every single game. He played all 162 games for the A's in 2019 and the Blue Jays in 2021, and was in 161 last year for Texas. He led the majors in plate appearances each of those seasons, and his 664 lead the way again this year.

“It says a lot about the man. I mean, he’s got the ability to go out there every day,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “It's nice to have, for a manager, when you have guys like that, that you can throw out there every day and they take care of themselves and have the ability to keep that focus and be able to handle the everyday mental and physical grind. ... He's just wiry strong, just doesn’t wear down. He’s just tireless.”

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