Texas Rangers

Rangers’ offense gives Joe Palumbo comfortable cushion in MLB debut

Left-hander Joe Palumbo didn’t look intimidated during his first major league start Saturday afternoon.

But even if he was, the Texas Rangers’ offense made sure he had a comfortable lead.

The Rangers, who beat the Oakland Athletics 10-5 in the first game of a split doubleheader at Globe Life Park, scored three times in the first and twice in the third to give the left-hander a 5-0 lead after three innings. It’s the 12th time Texas has scored 10 or more runs in a game this season. They had 14 such games in 2018.

The A’s scored four times in the fourth and Palumbo, 24, left after throwing 66 pitches in four innings. He struck out four and walked none.

Matt Olson’s two-run homer in the fourth ended Palumbo’s string of relative easy innings. He retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced.

“It’s unfortunate it ended up that way but that was really, really impressive in my eyes to see the start of the game, the command, the way he used his fastball,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “That’s not an easy lineup for a left-handed pitcher to face. You see a lot of left-handers struggle against that lineup. First time around, pretty dominant. Especially with the fastball, they were late on it. Used his curve ball for strikes. I was pretty impressed.”

Nomar Mazara and catcher Tim Federowicz each had homers. Mazara’s two-run shot in the third gave Texas a 5-0 lead. He also doubled. After the A’s pulled to within 6-4, Federowicz’s three-run homer helped push the lead back up to 10-4. It was the ninth career homer in Federowicz’s seven-season career. He was acquired from the Indians on Friday for a player to be named later or cash considerations to help fill the void by catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa going on the injured list.

Elvis Andrus had three hits, including two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. Adsrubel Cabrera had two hits and two RBIs.

“It was just awesome. I’m kind of speechless about it,” Palumbo said. “It was great to get out there, get the first one out of the way. I’m looking forward to the future and seeing what I can do. I thought I made the wrong pitch. If anything, if I’m going to throw a curveball in that situation, I got to bury it, but I probably should have thrown another fastball to him. He was kind of late the whole day. But you can’t go back.”

The Texas bullpen pitched well behind Palumbo. Jeffrey Springs allowed a run on two hits in three innings of relief. Right-hander Phillips Valdez pitched a perfect eighth in his first MLB appearance. He stayed in and threw a scoreless ninth to close it out.

“The biggest thing is just kind of sticking to what they’ve been doing,” Federowicz said of working with two pitchers making their MLB debuts. “I know I didn’t really know them, but I’ve worked with a lot of young pitchers, especially coming from Triple-A. I kind of know how to work with them a little bit more, but they both did a great job, threw a lot of strikes. It sucks for Joe that he kind of ran into a little bit of trouble. But he’s got great stuff, and is going to be very successful here.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.