Opening Day 'Free For All': Rangers Pitching Falters in Loss to Royals

The Texas Rangers dropped their season opener in a 14-10 loss against the Kansas City Royals in a game that nearly last four-and-a-half hours.
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Thursday's season opener in Kansas City could not have gone any better for the Texas Rangers. They sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored five runs before they even asked their Opening Day starter to take the mound.

But it all went downhill from there — all the way down to a 14-10 Opening Day loss in Kansas City.

Rangers starter Kyle Gibson was booted after only 1/3 of an inning, and was charged with five earned runs after the Royals tied the game before the Rangers could get back to the plate.

"At that point, it was a free for all," said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. "Once it was 5-5, you could kind of sense that and feel that. 'Okay, this is going to be a long game.' 

"I think from the beginning, if we would have set the tone right there, maybe had given up only one or two right there, with a two- or three-run lead still, I think the game changes at that point. We've gotta do a better job in that first inning."

The Rangers did grab the lead again, scoring a run in the second inning and two more in the top of the third to build an 8-5 lead. However, Taylor Hearn (who relieved Gibson) ran out of gas near the end of his 2 1/3 innings, and Kyle Cody struggled in one inning of work. 

The Royals pulled within one on the bottom of the third, then took the lead in the fourth inning and never looked back.

In a game that lasted four hours and 26 minutes, the Rangers' hitting and pitching were on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Kyle Gibson's struggles was just the tip of the iceberg regarding the pitching staff. Of the seven pitchers deployed by the Rangers, only Josh Sborz and John King posted zeros in the run column. 

What's just as alarming from a process standpoint is the eight walks issued. It's only one game, but it certainly isn't something Chris Woodward is going to ignore.

"Those are things we have been preaching heavily not to do," Woodward said. "It led to them getting back in the game. ... There's a lot of things we need to improve on after today. Today was a weird day. If it happens again, and we continue to walk guys and pitch around the strike zone instead of in it, then it's obviously something we're going to have to thoroughly address."

On a much brighter side, Texas tallied 15 hits, highlighted by strong performances from Nate Lowe, Joey Gallo, and David Dahl.

Lowe went 2-for-6 and became the fourth player in Rangers history to drive in at least four runs on Opening Day. With the exception of a home run, Gallo had a very typical day, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and three walks. Dahl, a historically strong Opening Day performer, helped set the table with three hits, becoming the only active player in Major League Baseball with three three-hit games on Opening Day.

"I've had some good Opening Days so far," Dahl said with a smile. "There's a lot of nerves, and I feel like I do a good job calming them. I kind of just take it as another game. It's game one of 162. At the end of the year, no one is going to remember what you did in game one. That's kind of the approach I try to take."

Starting centerfielder Leody Taveras was the only Rangers hitter to not record a hit. In a game to forget, he went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. Woodward didn't seem too phased after only one game. 

"He had a tough day today," Woodward said. "That's baseball."

The Rangers will attempt to put this one behind them on Saturday, when they take on the Royals in game two of the series. Kohei Arihara will be making his big league debut for the Rangers, while the Royals will send out a familiar face in Mike Minor.

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Chris Halicke covers the Texas Rangers for Follow him on Twitter @ChrisHalicke.
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