ARLINGTON, Texas — After taking three of four games from the defending American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers came home with a thud.
Texas dropped the first of a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 5-2, dropping them to 6-8 on the season. At first, it looked like the Rangers were about to see a repeat of last Friday when Joe Musgrove threw a no-hitter against them.
The team got home late from their four-game series in Tampa Bay last night, but that isn't an excuse for Chris Woodward's team.
"I'm not going to make excuses for our guys. We've gotta be better," Woodward said. "That's professional baseball. You're going to have to deal with stuff like that. I felt like that guy came at us and attacked us. We just didn't attack back. A lot of called third strikes. A lot of chase at the top of the zone. We didn't really have tough at-bats tonight."
Baltimore starter Jorge López no-hit the Texas lineup through four innings, with his only blemish being a walk to Joey Gallo. Eventually, David Dahl and Nick Solak broke through, leading off the fifth inning with back-to-back home runs. However, the lineup couldn't crack the Baltimore bullpen, as they were shutout for the final four innings of the ballgame.
These are the symptoms of a young team going through its growing pains. It's not easy to constantly grind out at-bats for 162 games over six months. It's a message that Woodward and his staff are committed to drilling into the heads of their players.
"These are the games I keep talking about that we've gotta avoid," Woodward said. "If we're going to be a contending club, we can't do those things. We can't just give in like that. Our guys were fighting at the end and got the tying run to the plate. But I thought the game was lost in the beginning. For four innings, we did nothing. Literally nothing."
On the mound, Rangers starter Mike Foltynewicz started strong, hitting 97 mph and commanding both sides of the plate with his fastball. However, Baltimore caught onto his stuff and began to tee off on him. His fifth inning was especially painful, giving up back-to-back hits to lead off the frame, giving up a sacrifice fly, then serving up a two-run home run to DJ Stewart, which gave Baltimore a 5-0 lead.
Kolby Allard was a bright spot for the Rangers, pitching three perfect innings in relief of Foltynewicz, striking out five batters in the process. In Allard's previous outing, he threw another perfect inning, striking out the side.
With the potential of multiple roster moves to be made on Saturday to make room for Willie Calhoun and Brock Holt, Allard is pushing to stay in Arlington.
"He's forcing our hand," Woodward said. "Today, nine straight batters out. He was commanding the baseball, attacking the strike zone, [and] used his curveball. I love that he used his curveball there at the end for early strikes to start some of those hitters and finished off the last hitter with the breaking ball. Those are things we've asked him to do so he doesn't get to fastball/cutter-heavy. And he's doing that."
The Rangers look to rebound on Saturday with Dane Dunning (1-0, 1.00 ERA) squaring off with Baltimore right-hander Dean Kremer (0-1, 10.50 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
The back-to-back home runs by David Dahl and Nick Solak in the fifth inning is the first time the Rangers accomplished that feat since September 26 last year against the Houston Astros. The combination for that back-to-back: Jeff Mathis and Leody Taveras.