On this date in Texas Rangers history, pitcher Charlie Hough won his first game of the 1986 season, claiming a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers at Arlington Stadium.
On May 6, 1986, Hough and the Rangers were trying to get back to .500 as they hosted the Tigers, which were less than two years removed from winning the 1984 World Series.
Hough wasn’t just winning his first game of the season — he was pitching his first game of the season, having missed the first month. Hough was sharp, giving up just two runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking two. He pitched into the seventh inning before giving way to Mickey Mahler, who held onto the lead for Hough, before Greg Harris pitched two innings for his fourth save of the season.
Hough left with the lead after the Rangers scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, after falling behind 2-0 earlier in the game. Hough had Pete Incaviglia to thank for that, in part, as the rookie hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to help build the lead. Scott Fletcher was the only Rangers player that night with two hits.
One has to wonder ‘what if’ when it comes to Hough’s 1986 season. He wrapped up the season with a 17-10 record, including six complete games and a 3.79 ERA. Plus, it was the only All-Star season of Hough’s career, as he made the team at midseason. Had he not missed a month, he might have claimed a 20-win season for the first time in his career. Hough actually came the closest to that the following season in 1987, when he won 18 games.
Hough delivered metronomic consistency to the Rangers after existing largely as a reliever for the first decade of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the age of 34, the Rangers made Hough a full-time starter for the first time in 1982. Hough won 10 or more games for nine straight seasons. He was, without question, the team’s best pitcher throughout the 1980s.
His win on May 6 was just the start of the second-best season of his career.
Promo photo: Kelly Gavin / Courtesy of the Texas Rangers
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