Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

After 5 straight wins, Sampson again struggles

@Sullivan_Ranger
June 19, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Adrian Sampson is being confronted with a significant challenge in his mission to establish himself as a big league pitcher. After enjoying a five-game winning streak, Sampson has run into a couple of clunkers in his last two starts. Sampson allowed five runs in three innings,

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Adrian Sampson is being confronted with a significant challenge in his mission to establish himself as a big league pitcher. After enjoying a five-game winning streak, Sampson has run into a couple of clunkers in his last two starts.

Sampson allowed five runs in three innings, and the Rangers stumbled to a 10-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park. Reliever Drew Smyly also gave up five runs, including three straight home runs to Jake Bauers, Roberto Perez and Tyler Naquin in the seventh inning.

Box score

Sampson’s outing comes after allowing six runs in five innings against the Red Sox last Thursday. Prior to that, Sampson had gone 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA in five outings.

“It gives me a little internal challenge,” Sampson said. “Just stuff I need to work on and refine on days when I am not pitching and just go in there and keep the same routine and get after it the next outing. Everyone goes through struggles. You look at it, how is it going to look at the end of the season. Just two bad games in a row. Stop the bleeding and get the next one.”

Sampson is right that just about every pitcher goes through rough patches during a season. If a veteran pitcher like Mike Minor or Lance Lynn did so, the Rangers would likely shrug it off as just two rough outings.

But Sampson is in his first full season in the Major Leagues, so there could be more of a tendency to look for red flags being raised over this. Pitching coach Julio Rangel will no doubt be doing extra homework between now and his next scheduled start on Sunday against the White Sox.

“We are going to have to dig into that because he was hit pretty hard,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Feel like his sharpness is kind of not there. I know he has had times where his slider has been sharp and times when it has been a little off. I know Julio will dig into it tomorrow and see if anything stands out.”

Over the past two starts, Sampson has had a 60 percent hard-hit rate on balls put in play with an exit velocity of 95-plus miles per hour. The league average is 37 percent.

“It just didn’t look like it had a whole lot of life, even from the first inning on,” Woodward said. “Just seemed like he was fighting, not only his mechanics but his ability to execute pitches. They were getting a lot of good swings off him. When he is right, you don’t see that.”

The first run off Sampson came in the first inning when Oscar Mercado tripled with one out and scored on a single by Jason Kipnis. Mercado also started a third-inning rally for the Indians, this time with a lead-off grounder to first baseman Ronald Guzman who misplayed it for an error.

Mercado advanced to second on Carlos Santana’s grounder and Kipnis drew a walk. Jose Ramirez then pulled an 0-1 sinker deep into the right-field bleachers for a three-run home run. A double by Bauers and a single by Naquin added another run off Sampson.

He was pulled after three innings in what was his shortest start of the season. Sampson, who missed a full year in 2016-17 recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, said there are no physical issues.

“I felt pretty good,” Sampson said. “In the bullpen I was missing a little bit, and it kind of dragged out in the game. Missing spots by a lot. A lot of them weren’t close. Just one of those days you’ve got to forget about it and move on.”

The Rangers runs came across on two home runs. Rougned Odor had one in the fifth inning off of Indians starter Zach Plesac for the Rangers' first hit of the game, and Willie Calhoun had a two-run shot in the ninth.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.