Command problems lead to forgettable afternoon for Scheppers on Opening Day

Posted Monday, Mar. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Tanner Scheppers will never forget his first start in the big leagues, which came on Opening Day.

But he would like to.

Scheppers had a forgettable debut in the Texas Rangers’ rotation, allowing seven runs on eight hits over four innings in what became a 14-10 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon.

“It was a dream come true, something I’ll never forget,” Scheppers said of getting the season-opening nod. “But something I’d like to forget. Overall, just a bad outing.”

Scheppers downplayed any notion of Opening Day jitters or nerves playing a role in his subpar outing. All seven runs were scored with two outs, and that’s something Scheppers knows he must improve upon. The 27-year-old right-hander also understands the importance of delivering a shutdown inning once the offense gives him a lead, which he failed to do as well.

Things began unraveling in the second inning after Scheppers opened the game with a 1-2-3, nine-pitch first.

Scheppers started the second by walking Ryan Howard before retiring the next two. However, he followed that by issuing another free pass to Carlos Ruiz on four pitches, giving up an RBI double on a weak liner to left by Cody Asche and then walking No. 9 hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. on five pitches.

So the bases were loaded with the top of the order coming up. Scheppers allowed a run-scoring single to Ben Revere, and the biggest blow came next when Jimmy Rollins sent a grand slam over the right-field fence.

“I started to get too fine and made some bad pitches,” Scheppers said. “I need to bear down and make better pitches. That’s about it.”

Said manager Ron Washington: “The walks were the things that killed him. If he was able to not put those guys on the bag, it might have been a different story.”

Scheppers worked out of trouble in the third inning after putting runners at second and third with no outs. He got Domonic Brown to pop up, Ruiz to ground into a fielder’s choice and Asche to ground out to get away unscathed.

The offense, meanwhile, was in the midst of bailing him out by scoring four runs in the second and three more in the third to take a 7-6 lead.

But Scheppers didn’t keep the lead intact in the fourth by allowing another run-scoring hit with two outs. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley singled to right to score Revere, tying the game at 7-7.

“They gave me the lead. I got to go out there and put up a zero,” Scheppers said. “And I didn’t.”

Scheppers threw 93 pitches in his debut, and his final stat line wasn’t pretty, particularly the three walks. He had never walked more than two over 115 career relief appearances.

But nobody is concerned about Scheppers’ ability to recover and get ready for his next scheduled start at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

“He’s fine,” catcher J.P. Arencibia said. “He’s got an unbelievable head on his shoulders. He’s a very confident pitcher and he’s a competitor, so I think he handled himself well.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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