It was a game calling for an ace. The Texas Rangers, losers of five of their past six games, needed Cole Hamels to be the pitcher that he’s been for most of the past year.
It didn’t happen and the Rangers’ offense was again fending for itself as their starter struggled to put up much of a fight for the seventh consecutive game. The bullpen, however, combined for another scoreless outing and the Rangers snapped a two-game losing streak with two runs in the sixth for a 6-5 win Friday against the Minnesota Twins at Globe Life Park.
It was the first time Hamels has gone less than five innings in consecutive starts since last July before he was traded to the Rangers.
It’s the seventh consecutive game the Rangers’ starter failed to go at least five innings. It’s the first time a major league team has had starters fail to go at least five innings in seven consecutive games since the Colorado Rockies in 2012.
The past week has been so poor from the mound that two position players took turns trying to protect the bullpen.
After the game, the Rangers announced Triple A Round Rock right-hander Kyle Lohse, 37, was called up to start Saturday’s game. Right-hander Nick Martinez was optioned to Round Rock, along with Chi Chi Gonzalez.
Left-hander Alex Claudio was called up for bullpen help in place of Gonzalez.
Lohse, who last pitched in the majors with the Brewers in 2015, is 3-5 with a 5.06 ERA for Round Rock. He’s allowed five earned runs combined in his past two starts of six and seven innings. He’s spent 14 seasons in the majors since 2001.
“We need professional starts and we’re going to find where those professional starts are for us,” manager Jeff Banister said after the game. “This is a production league. If you’re a starting pitcher you need to be able to get your club in a position capable of winning, keep games close.”
Banister said Martinez and Gonzalez are still options after the All-Star break.
“They’re obviously still in that mix for us to start,” he said. “but we have to be better in that category than we have been lately. We’re going to give an opportunity for Lohse to come up here and give us the best professional start he possibly can.”
Hamels tied a career high with six walks and has allowed 10 earned runs in his past two starts. He threw 72 pitches through three innings and finished with 109.
After Miguel Sano’s three-run homer with one out in the fifth, Hamels walked the next two batters, including Kennys Vargas on four pitches.
Tony Barnette replaced him and earned the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Matt Bush pitched a scoreless eighth and Sam Dyson earned his 18th save with a scoreless ninth.
“I think they were all big from our bullpen tonight,” Banister said. “Tony has been very good for us in similar situations. I think his biggest inning was his last. We needed for him to get through that so we could get to Bush and Dyson.”
Hamels was 5-0 in games following a Rangers loss until Sunday against the Twins. He didn’t earn the loss Friday but since joining the Rangers in July, Hamels is 5-1 in eight starts following a Texas loss.
“It’s nothing that I pride myself on, the last two starts, but I know it’s easy to forget I’ve been there before and I’ve had situations I’ve had to overcome,” Hamels said.
“I have to get back to being aggressive. I feel like everything is there. I physically feel great. It’s just a matter of locating each and every pitch I have to both sides of the zone and stay focused on that.”
For starters, starters have struggled
Chi Chi Gonzalez
Rangers vs. Twins
8:05 p.m. Saturday, FSSW