The only way Friday night could have gotten any worse for Justin Grimm after the first two innings was if he had somehow injured himself.
That’s what happened, of course.
After all, these are the 2013 Texas Rangers, who have placed four of the five members from their season-opening rotation on the disabled list and now could be without one of their reserves.
Detroit scored five runs in the first inning against Grimm and blistered him for seven before he left after 31/3 innings en route to an easy 7-2 victory over the Rangers to open a three-game series at Comerica Park.
“Discouraging? Yeah,” said Grimm, who exited with stiffness in his right forearm. “I try to take care of myself the best I can. I don’t like being hurt. It’s definitely not what this team needs — another injury.”
Grimm said that his forearm would stiffen when it wasn’t active, but he didn’t feel any discomfort while pitching. He expects to be examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister, but his turn in the rotation won’t be needed again until the Rangers’ third start after the All-Star break July 21.
If he ends up on the DL, he would join left-hander Matt Harrison (back surgery) and fellow righties Yu Darvish (fatigue), Alexi Ogando (shoulder inflammation) and Nick Tepesch (elbow inflammation).
Colby Lewis (forearm, triceps) has been on the DL since last July.
Ogando could return by July 21 if his next rehab outing goes well, but the Rangers would prefer that he make two more starts in the minors. Darvish will return July 22, but Tepesch still isn’t pain-free. Lewis is likely looking at a mid-August return, and Harrison is hoping for late August.
“We pretty much have a whole pitching staff on the DL,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “You expect a guy or two to go down. That’s the nature of the game, but you don’t expect them to all go down at one time.”
Pierzynski homered and went 3 for 4 for the Rangers, who have lost three straight games. They could get only two runs in six innings against Doug Fister, who had allowed six in three of his previous four starts.
But Grimm had left the offense down a touchdown after two innings. The first six Tigers reached before Grimm recorded his first out, and they were 9 for 12 against him to build a 7-0 lead after two innings.
He retired five in a row before Miguel Cabrera dropped a single between Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin in left-center field. Manager Ron Washington and trainer Kevin Harmon came to the mound, and Grimm walked off moments later.
The loss dropped Grimm’s record to 7-7 and pushed his ERA to 6.37. His ERA since June 1 is a major league-worst 9.91, but the performance Friday was not related to the injury.
“Location did that,” Washington said. “He left too many balls out over the plate. You certainly can’t let these guys get extended. You have to keep them tied up, and he couldn’t do it.”
Denton native Austin Jackson got the Tigers going in the first with a double to right and scored easily as Prosper resident Torii Hunter followed with a double to left.
Cabrera walked, Prince Fielder singled, and Victor Martinez walked to make it 2-0. The next hitter, Jhonny Peralta, added another double to drive home two more runs, and Alex Avila capped the five-run inning with an RBI single two batters later.
Jackson and Hunter started the third with consecutive singles, and Cabrera’s sacrifice fly scored Jackson. Martinez doubled with two outs, and Hunter was safe at home as he sneaked his hand onto the plate just before Pierzynski’s tag.
The Tigers managed only two hits after the second inning — Cabrera’s blooper on Grimm’s final pitch and an infield hit by Fielder in the seventh to end a string of nine straight batters retired by Joseph Ortiz.
Ortiz, recalled Thursday to take Darvish’s spot on the roster, allowed just the one hit in 32/3 innings.
“He did a really good job,” Washington said.
Both Rangers runs came in the fourth inning, which Pierzynski started with his ninth homer. Profar singled in Elvis Andrus with two outs, and the next two Rangers reached to load the bases before David Murphy struck out.
They had only three hits the rest of the way.