Tanner Scheppers and pitching coach Mike Maddux spent part of their Sunday morning reviewing video from the right-hander’s latest outing, which saw his control deteriorate Saturday night for the second time in a week.
Scheppers hit Mike Trout on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases with two outs in the seventh, and then walked Albert Pujols on four pitches. Anthony Bass came in to get the final out of the seventh in a 4-1 Angels victory.
Scheppers took some comfort knowing that he made good pitches to Trout, but also recognized that he needs to make adjustments quicker.
“I’m beating myself out there,” Scheppers said. “The free bags are catching up with me, and it’s not what I expect of myself.”
Scheppers walked three April 19 at Seattle to jump-start a Mariners rally that propelled them to an 11-10 victory. The outing, just his second of the season, led to the Rangers dropping him out of the eighth-inning setup role he filled so capably in 2013.
He will continue to pitch in lower-leverage situations until he has solved his woes, which he said are twofold. He has difficulty staying on top of the ball, and his left shoulder can fly open during his delivery.
His aborted spring camp, hampered by the sprained right ankle that put him on the disabled list to start the season, could be playing a role in his inability to find a rhythm.
“I’d be lying to say I’m exactly where I want to be,” Scheppers said. “It’s just a few little adjustments. I’m trying to find my rhythm. I fully trust that it will get back to where it was and I’ll start making my pitches.”
The Rangers used their 18th different batting order in their 18th game Sunday, though the first seven spots in the lineup were the same for a second consecutive game.
Manager Jeff Banister was quick to point out that many factors dictate lineups, from giving players days off to the throwing arm of the opposing starting pitcher.
More than anything, though, the Rangers’ lack of offense is leading him to manipulate the lineup.
“I’m still trying to find the right rhythm and looking for guys to spark and continue to battle,” Banister said. “Until guys spark, you have to find something that is going to produce offense for you.
“I don’t know that staying status quo when you haven’t produced offense consistently, I don’t think that’s the most optimal thing to do.”
The Rangers entered Sunday with the worst batting average (.211) and fewest hits (121) in the majors.
Center fielder Leonys Martin made the second out at second base in the third inning Saturday night when his foot came off the bag as he was standing up after sliding back on a pickoff try.
His toes were centimeters off the base after losing his balance, but it was apparent on replay that the Rangers should not challenge. Banister told Martin during the game that those kinds of mistakes are preventable and can’t be made if he wants to be an elite player and if the Rangers are going to be an elite team.
“To me an elite, championship organization, those are the type of plays that you don’t have,” Banister said. “Those are little things that we need to clean up and work on and not have as part of our game.”
Martin had two outfield assists in the sixth inning, becoming the first Rangers player to do so since Matt Kata on May 3, 2007.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760