Texas Rangers

Brock Burke did something no Texas Rangers’ left-handed pitcher has ever done

Brock Burke on sparkling MLB debut: ‘It felt nice’

Texas Rangers left-hander Brock Burke held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on four hits over six innings in his MLB debut Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
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Texas Rangers left-hander Brock Burke held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless on four hits over six innings in his MLB debut Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.

Brock Burke couldn’t have asked for a much better debut.

The left-hander held the Los Angeles Angels to four hits over six shutout innings and was in line to win his first-career start Tuesday night at Globe Life Park before a game-tying homer by Brian Goodwin against Jose Leclerc sent it into extra innings tied at 2-2 and knocked Burke from the pitcher of record.

The Rangers won it 3-2 when a fielding error by Angels’ first baseman allowed Delino DeShields to score from second base in the 11th inning.

Burke, who turned 23 on Aug. 4, struck out four, walked two and allowed two hits each to Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols. Pujol’s double was misplayed by left-fielder Willie Calhoun. One of the singles was an infield single to third and another skipped off Burke’s glove. In the sixth, with his pitch count in the 90s, Ohtani and Justin Upton reached on a single and walk but Burke induced a fly out to right from Pujols to end the inning.

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” Burke said. “Little nervous in the first inning but it kind of went away. I was able to do what I normally do and go out and pitch.”

He’s the fourth Rangers’ pitcher and first since Brian Sikorski in 2000, to throw at least six scoreless innings in his debut start. Burke is the only left-hander to do that in club history. He’s rated the No. 7 prospect in the organization by MLB.com.

The Rangers scored twice in the fifth inning. Rookie Nick Solak, who collected his first major league hit in Game 1 of Tuesday’s double-header, homered with one out in the fifth to give Texas a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, Jose Trevino doubled and scored on Danny Santana’s single to left. Ohtani’s double scored David Fletcher to pull the Angles to within 2-1 in the eighth against after Kelley replaced Martin with one out and none on.

Solak is the one who sent a one-hopper past Pujols in the 11th to score DeShields with the winning run.

“I definitely wanted to get through the sixth clean,” Burke said. “Tried to make a couple of pitches that didn’t fall. The plays behind me really helped with the confidence. I knew if I made pitches they would make the plays behind me. I didn’t have to be perfect with every pitch because of the defense behind me. Tried not walk people and let them do their jobs.”

He threw 99 pitches, the most he’s thrown this season. He had only made two Triple-A starts with Nashville before being called up. The most pitches he’d thrown this season was 88. The threw more than 100 pitches in a game four times in 2018.

Burke missed almost two months (April 23-June 16) while recovering from a blister and left shoulder fatigue in the minors. The Rangers acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2018 in a three-team, sever-player trade that included Jurickson Profar going to the Oakland A’s.

“I think the poise, that’s what I saw in spring training,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We were all making jokes about it, that he’s out there kind of yawning, firing thunder bolts from his arm like it’s nothing. It was a lot of the same thing tonight. It just seemed like nothing really shook him.”

Texas Rangers rookie Nick Solak, who made his MLB debut on Tuesday, collected his first hit and home run.

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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.