Wandy Rodriguez likely earned at least one more start for the Texas Rangers as they attempt to juggle the Derek Holland injury and Ross Detwiler ineffectiveness in their rotation.
Rodriguez was good enough, much better than Detwiler has been, over five innings in his first big-league start since May. He left with a lead, giving way to eighth-inning specialist Tanner Scheppers in the sixth inning.
While the decision to promote Rodriguez helped the Rangers on Friday night at Angel Stadium, a temporary new pecking order in the bullpen stood out as the Los Angeles Angels rallied to a 3-2 victory.
Scheppers did his part, working a scoreless sixth, but Keone Kela surrendered a two-run homer to David Freese an inning later and the Rangers saw their last-gasp effort in the ninth fall short on a fortunate stab by third baseman Freese with two outs and the trying run at third base.
It’s not the first time Kela pitched with a lead in the seventh inning, with Shawn Tolleson and Neftali Feliz in tow. That was while Scheppers was on the disabled list and before his eighth-inning walk fest Sunday in Seattle.
But it was surprise nonetheless as the Rangers lost for the fourth time in five games.
“The mix of Kela, Tolleson and Feliz has been one that has worked well for us, and I felt like it was time to put Scheppers in,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We had talked after the game in Seattle to be able to use [Tanner] in some other slots, too.”
There were deficiencies in other areas, as is becoming the norm with the Rangers. They managed only three hits, and needed consecutive walks in the third by Garrett Richards to fuel a two-run inning.
A Mitch Moreland groundout and an infield single off Richards by Prince Fielder drove in the runs.
The Rangers saw Delino DeShields reach third with two outs in the ninth after he stole second and advanced on a throwing error. After Shin-Soo Choo walked, Elvis Andrus sent a grounder to third on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, and Freese snagged on a tricky hop to end the game.
“It took a premium glove play by a third baseman to keep us from scoring the tying run,” Banister said.
Rodriguez gave the Rangers a chance even though he walked three, hit one, threw two wild pitches and gave up several hard-hit balls. But he got better as he settled into his first start in 11 months and made pitches when he needed them.
He expects to start again Wednesday. While Banister wouldn’t commit to Rodriguez, he said that the left-hander made a “compelling case.”
“I felt excited and happy, too, because it had been a long time,” Rodriguez said. “I had a good one. I think I’ll pitch in five days because I didn’t throw a bad game.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760
Pitching: Wandy Rodriguez likely earned another start with the Rangers after allowing one run on five hits in five innings. The downside is that he walked three, hit one and threw two wild pitches. … Tanner Scheppers pitched a scoreless sixth, two inning earlier than he normally appears. That led to Keone Kela pitching the seventh, an inning that had been reserved for Shawn Tolleson. Kela allowed a two-run homer to David Freese that gave the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Hitting: Prince Fielder keeps churning out the hits. He had two singles, including one off Angels pitcher Garrett Richards to bring in the Rangers’ second run in their two-run third. Mitch Moreland drove in the first run on a groundout. … The Rangers had only one other hit, a second-inning double by Elvis Andrus. … Leonys Martin saw his five-game hitting streak snapped.