The Texas Rangers tried their second “bullpen game” Friday night.
This time, it worked.
The Rangers used four relievers in their 7-1 series-opening win against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. Mike Minor faces Tanner Roark in Game 2 at 6:10 p.m. Saturday.
The four pitchers, including starter Jesse Chavez, combined to hold the Reds to one run on four hits. Chavez was especially superb over the first three innings. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced while striking out four. He also collected a single, the second hit of his career.
Brett Martin followed Chavez with two scoreless innings and Jeffrey Springs threw a perfect sixth. Drew Smyly allowed the lone run, a solo homer by Nick Senzel in the eighth, but he closed the game by pitching the final three innings to earn his first save. Martin earned his first big league win.
“It’s just another dream come true,” Martin said of the win. “It’s cliche, but everybody dreams about pitching in the big leagues and to also get your first major league win. To get it out of the way. Hopefully, there’s many more to come.”
Smyly, who was working out of the bullpen for the first time this season after struggling as a starter, earned his first save since 2013 when he was with the Tigers.
“I’m just trying throw up zeroes every time I go out,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t feel any different from my last start. The results were pretty different. It’s just baseball. I’m being much more aggressive, using my legs.”
The Rangers lost their first “bullpen” game 6-5 at Oakland on April 24.
Texas scored twice in the first, including Elvis Andrus stealing home on a double steal.
“I knew [Asdrubal] Cabrera was stealing. The idea was [third base coach Tony] Beasley’s, the guy throws to second, let’s steal another run,” said Andrus, who stole home for the sixth time his career, including the second this season. “It’s not the first time for me. The key is anticipating the throw. As soon as the catcher let go of the ball, I took off. It was a lot closer than I thought it would be.”
Rougned Odor’s grand slam in the fifth pushed the lead to 6-0. Delino DeShields’ sacrifice fly to right in the sixth made it 7-0.
“He threw me a couple of sliders down and away and I fouled them off,” said Odor, who . “But I stayed with my approach and he threw me a slider up and in and I made good contact and hit it out.”