Texas Rangers

Rangers’ offense continues to struggle as early runs hold up for Mariners

Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers, right, looks at the ball after hitting Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, foreground, with a pitch during the seventh inning Saturday.
Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers, right, looks at the ball after hitting Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, foreground, with a pitch during the seventh inning Saturday. AP

The Seattle Mariners jumped on Yovani Gallardo for two runs in the first inning and held on for a 3-1 victory against the Rangers on Monday at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers had chances to tie and take the lead in the fourth after cutting it to 2-1 when Prince Fielder scored on a throwing error, but Shin-Soo Choo grounded out with runners at second and third to end the inning.

In the seventh, Elvis Andrus singled and was at third with two outs when Robinson Chirinos flew out to end the inning. Leonys Martin led off the eighth with a single and stole second with no outs but Jake Smolinski, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre popped out, struck out and grounded out to strand Martin.

Scheppers optioned

Right-hander Tanner Scheppers will get another chance to regain his control out of the bullpen but it will be with Triple A Round Rock. Scheppers was optioned to Round Rock to make room for left-hander Alex Claudio. Scheppers has mostly struggled in five appearances this season (four innings) after getting a late start with an ankle injury in spring training. In his last appearance on Saturday against the Angels, Scheppers allowed a run on two hits and a walk.

Claudio is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 6 relief appearances (92/3 innings) for the Express this season. He had a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings during spring training.

“We felt like Tanner needs to go and continue to work. Continue to log in some innings,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.

The Rangers hope some time in Round Rock will allow Scheppers to regain his control and smooth out some flaws in his pitching mechanics. Banister said “unplugging” from the stress of the big leagues will help Scheppers.

“The production [level] does count here. Every night,” Banister said. “I don’t foresee this being a long-term deal.

“Tanner will be and is one of the best we have. But you need for it to have some consistency. It’s better to work on it at a level that you can slow it down a little bit.”

Plus, Banister said, it finally gives the bullpen a left-handed option.

Claudio, 23, made his major league debut in 2014. He had a 2.92 ERA in 15 relief appearances in August and September.

Rua’s return closer

Outfielder Ryan Rua still wears a boot on his right ankle after a sprain and small fracture in his right heel. He expects team physician Dr. Keith Meister to take a look at his progress from the April 10 injury.

Rua did not know how much more time he’d miss. General manager Jon Daniels said he hopes Rua is available in the second half of May.

“Feels better each day,” Rua said. “Still wear the boot for long distance. If it’s taped I don’t have to wear it. I’m anxious to get out there and see how it feels running and cutting. I don’t want to push it.”

The time off the field has been tough, Rua said.

“I’ve been bored out of my mind,” he said. “I’ve been coming [to the ballpark] for two or three hours a day and then going home. Luckily, the games are on TV and the NBA playoffs are going on so I have something to watch. It’s been tough.”

Detwiler returns

Left-handed starter Ross Detwiler is back in the rotation after a week off to iron out a hitch in his windup. Detwiler (0-2, 10.95 ERA) starts Tuesday against the Mariners. In his windup, Detwiler’s weight was often shifting too much on his back foot, which was affecting his delivery and command.

“It’s something that kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t realize I was even doing anything,” Detwiler said. “Obviously, the results were not what I wanted so I went back to video and tried to figure something out. It was pretty apparent.”

His control was better during two bullpen sessions after the correction.

Banister hopes it continues Tuesday.

“You’ve got to be able to do those things in a game,” he said. “Will it make a difference? We’ll see tomorrow. That’s why you work on it. Unplug him for a couple of days and see if that helps him out. I’m betting it does.”

Stefan Stevenson

817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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