Corey Kluber Exits Rangers Debut After First Inning in Sunday's Loss to Rockies

Chris Halicke

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since originally published.

ARLINGTON, Texas — The anticipated debut of Corey Kluber in a Texas Rangers uniform was cut drastically short after feeling tightness in the back of his right shoulder.

After only one inning of work, LHP Joe Palumbo replaced Kluber on the mound for the Rangers. Kluber faced the minimum over 18 pitches in the first inning with a strike out and a walk.  

Kluber felt his shoulder tighten up after the first few pitches and it continued to tighten as he worked through the inning. He was examined by Dr. Keith Meister and will be further evaluated on Monday. 

"Any time your starting pitcher comes out after one inning you are obviously concerned," Woodward said. "Hopefully he comes in tomorrow feeling better but we are obviously taking all the precautions in the world."

Despite the injury to Kluber, the Rangers put runs on the board in the second and third innings. Joey Gallo hit the first home run in the history of Globe Life Field to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Nick Solak followed with an RBI single in the third. 

Gallo's home run was typical with his reputation—a 437-foot moonshot.

"Obviously to hit a home run always feels great, but it's kind of a different type of home run, being the first one ever here. So that made it a lot more special," Gallo said. "I guess I just gotta hit balls like that to get 'em out of here. So if I can keep doing that, I'll be alright."

Joe Palumbo's relief of Kluber could not have started any better. He was lights out in the first two innings, striking out four batters. He struggled mightily in the fourth inning, giving up two runs and loading the bases before recording an out. Jesse Chavez came in and minimized the damage, but the Rockies took the lead on a Ryan McMahon sacrifice fly and never let it go.

The Rangers now fall to 1-2 on the season and have only managed to score five runs in the first three games. The largest amount of concern with the Rangers heading into the season revolved around the lineup, which has proven true in the first series.

"Obviously, we've got to be better offensively to have a chance," Woodward said. I trust our guys and we'll continue to monitor every game and make adjustments. That's what we have to do. It's something we're going to talk about the day after tomorrow. We've got a new game two days from now. We've got to be better offensively."

The strength of the 2020 Rangers team rests on their revamped pitching rotation. If Kluber's injury keeps him out for an extended period of time, it would be a huge loss for Texas. Before Sunday's injury, Kluber's next start was expected to be on Saturday, August 1 against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. 

If Kluber does miss any time, the next man up will be either Joe Palumbo or Kolby Allard. Both are young pitchers in the Rangers organization that earned spots on the team's Opening Day 30-man roster to give them some left-handed options out of the bullpen. Both are built up to start games.

"Obviously, we don't know the situation, but it would be a huge loss if he misses time. I'm not going to sugarcoat it," Gallo said of Kluber. "But we've got guys we believe in and we will trust them. But to say losing Kluber wouldn't be a huge loss would be a lie."

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