Texas Rangers

Progress for Smyly, a tough game for bullpen, and will Rangers stop pitching to Davis?

Smyly was better but wants do-over on sixth inning

Drew Smyly had his best start of the season Friday for the Texas Rangers, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Oakland Athletics.
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Drew Smyly had his best start of the season Friday for the Texas Rangers, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Oakland Athletics.

The Texas Rangers won’t have to worry next season about what they’re going to have to worry about Saturday.

Rain is in the forecast. Heavy in the morning, some relief in the afternoon, and then more as the 7:05 p.m. first pitch approaches.

The tarp was on the field when the grounds crew shut off the lights for the night.

Globe Life Park drains well, so bet on the Rangers and Oakland A’s playing.

Next season, of course, Globe Life Field will have a roof and the Rangers will not have any issues with rain. If a game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., it’s going to start at 7:05 p.m. (or 7:07 or 7:08).

Then again, anything seems to be possible with the Rangers.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-6 loss.

1. Yeah, the sixth inning was bad for the Rangers and Drew Smyly in particular, but his performance over five-plus inning rates as progress. Make that significant progress.

“It was really a positive night for him,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He pitched really well. Unfortunately, his stat line doesn’t look as good as it should because he dominated for them five innings. It’s something to really build on for him.”

Smyly didn’t pitch past the fourth inning in his first two starts, and he constantly found himself pitching out of trouble. He was regularly falling behind hitters, though somehow surviving most innings that didn’t involve Mike Trout.

Through five innings Friday, he had allowed only one run on three hits with no walks. The Rangers led 6-1 thanks in large part to a three-run homer by Elvis Andrus in the fifth.

Then the sixth arrived. He was at only 73 pitches, an economical number, but threw 20 without retiring any of the three batters he faced. They all scored.

He might have just been worn out, which is understandable.

“I haven’t been in the sixth inning in a while,” said Smyly, who went two seasons without pitching in an MLB game.

Smyly should be able to coax himself through an extra inning next time, assuming he again pitch efficiently. But efficiency is what he has been seeking, and he got it thanks to his ability to land multiple off-speed pitches for strikes.

He was encouraged, though he took the blame for starting the downfall in the sixth.

“I wish I could get that sixth inning back,” he said. “But the first five innings, I was definitely more efficient today. It’s definitely one I can take with me and try to get better in the next start.”

2. The problem is that the bullpen had its worst game of the season. The relievers allowed more runs on Opening Day, but not the guys who are being counted on to be very good with leads.

Jesse Chavez’s struggles continued, though Woodward said that some of his misfortune is the result of bad luck. He replaced Smyly, allowed all three of the runners he inherited to score and then coughed up another of his own.

Shawn Kelley, facing one of his former teams, allowed the game-tying homer to Ramon Laureano in the seventh. Chris Martin allowed the go-ahead homer to Khris Davis in the eighth.

(Jeffrey Springs, who has been reliable earlier in games, allowed a run in the ninth.)

At least Jose Leclerc didn’t have to pitch. He warmed up, though.

“It just comes down to executing and doing our job,” Martin said. “The last couple days we haven’t done our job, but that’s baseball. That’s how it goes. We’ve got another one tomorrow.”

Woodward concurred. Those things happen from time to time, but if the Rangers find themselves in a similar situation Saturday, the same guys who coughed up the lead Friday will be back in there.

“We had our best guys in there,” Woodward said. “I’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”

3. Davis’ home run was the 29th of his career against the Rangers, though it felt like the 290th, and he moved within one of Trout for the active lead against the Rangers.

Like Trout, Davis has the Rangers considering if they should walk him if he comes up with a game on the line.

“We talked about it beforehand,” Woodward said. “We’ve to be a little more careful, especially in a tie ballgame.”

The pitch was a slider, and it wasn’t a good pitch. But the thought was that Davis was looking for it because of how well he did hit it.

“I regretted that one,” Martin said. “I know the track record. You tip your hat.”

At least the Rangers broke Davis’ streak of consecutive games with multiple home runs. He hit two home runs in each of the A’s final two games at Baltimore and had already swatted 10 this season in 18 games.

So, the Rangers aren’t the only team paying the price for pitching to him. It just seems that way.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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