The worst news for Jerome Williams on Friday night had nothing to do with what he did on the Progressive Field mound, and that wasn’t very pretty.
Fellow right-hander Nick Tepesch, nearly seven years younger and considered part of the next wave of home-grown Texas Rangers pitchers, threw a bullpen session before the game and reported no problems with his left knee.
No soreness like the kind that forced him out of his start last weekend. Everything, he reported, was normal in the knee that bumped him from the opener against Cleveland and gave Williams a second start after a promotion last week from Triple A Round Rock.
A healthy Tepesch gives the Rangers six starters for five spots. Unless they want to take the advice of Yu Darvish and go to a six-man rotation for the rest of the season, Williams will be out of the rotation and possibly out of a big-league job.
That decision is pending. Williams, though, didn’t help his cause much against Cleveland, which collected 13 hits and scored 10 runs against him in four-plus innings en route to a 12-2 cakewalk.
The performance, which included three walks was a reversal from his Rangers debut last weekend, when he allowed one run on five hits in six innings to division-leading Oakland.
“I wasn’t executing pitches, and that’s when they were getting their hits,” Williams said. “You tip your cap to them, but that’s on me. I didn’t execute, and that’s what happened when you don’t execute.”
The Indians scored once in the first, two in the third and fourth, and delivered the knockout blow in the fifth as they scored six times.
Williams faced five batters, allowing a walk, two singles and two doubles, and all five eventually scored.
Former Rangers outfielder David Murphy went 4 for 4 with two RBIs, infielder Mike Aviles went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, and All-Star outfielder Michael Bradley went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
“He just didn’t command the baseball tonight like he did against Oakland,” manager Ron Washington said. “There were a lot of pitches out over the plate, a lot of deep counts, he didn’t have a changeup, he didn’t have his breaking ball, and when he missed, they hit the ball.”
The Rangers’ offense, meanwhile, managed just an unearned run in six innings against hard-throwing right-hander Danny Salazar.
Murphy cut down Adrian Beltre at home to end the second with what would have been the tying run. The only run against Salazar came in the fifth after Robinson Chirinos, who had doubled and gone to third on a Murphy error, trotted home on a Rougned Odor grounder.
The Rangers tacked on a meaningless run in the ninth as Elvis Andrus singled home Daniel Robertson. By then, Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo had been given the rest of the night off with the game out of hand.
They exited a few innings after Williams, whose future role isn’t immediately clear.
Washington said that Tepesch will throw another bullpen session Sunday. If all goes well again, he will start Wednesday at Chicago and leave Williams without a defined role.
“We just have to wait and see,” Washington said. “I know he could be a long guy. He can also be a spot starter.”
The Rangers have one of those already in Scott Baker, who finished the lopsided loss with two perfect innings. As inconsistent as the starters have been, maybe another isn’t a bad idea.
As Washington said, the Rangers have to wait and see on Williams. What they saw Friday wasn’t very pretty.