When it was over, the Rangers' late-inning comeback fueled by Tejeda fell short, and they dropped their third straight with a 6-4 loss to the Athletics.
Tejeda, who spent the past three seasons playing ball at the Class A level, made his Major League debut against the Athletics and went 2-for-4 with a home run, stolen base and three RBIs. Tejeda was filling in for injured second baseman Rougned Odor.
“I felt really good,” Tejeda said. “I felt really confident going out there. I’m thankful I got the opportunity. My mentality was to go up there with a positive attitude and look for a good pitch I could put the bat on.”
Manager Chris Woodward said he was hoping Tejeda would bring some excitement to a struggling team.
“Everybody loves it when guys make their Major League debut,” Woodward said. “I knew this kid was going to bring some excitement because he has no fear. I knew you’re going to see a live bat, was hoping they were going to throw him strikes, and they did.”
The problem for the Rangers was that Tejeda’s first-game milestones came after the Athletics had taken a 5-0 lead through four innings against Minor.
Kiner-Falefa then reached on a leadoff single in the seventh and Tejeda, swinging at the first pitch for the third straight at-bat, smashed a changeup over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. The shot had an exit velocity of 108.4 mph.
Tejeda was the ninth Rangers player to hit a home run in his first Major League game and the first since Nomar Mazara on April 10, 2016. He is also just the ninth Major League player since 1901 to hit a home run and steal a base in his first Major League game.
Tejeda got one more chance but this time there was no fairy-tale moment. The Rangers, trailing 6-4, loaded the bases in the eighth on consecutive singles from Frazier, Nick Solak and Kiner-Falefa against Athletics reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
That brought up Tejeda, but this time he popped out weakly to shortstop Marcus Semien and the Rangers' rally died.
“He's scary,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said, of Tejeda. “He can run. He can hit for power. There's a reason you bring a kid from A ball to the big leagues. That's a pretty exciting prospect to have there. Thank goodness we held him down that last at-bat. We had our eye on him, and where it was at the bottom of the order with him up. There was nowhere to put him with the bases loaded, and Yusmeiro made a great pitch. He looks good, though."
Minor, trying to break a two-game losing streak, started out strong on Thursday, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced through three innings. The only hit was a home run by Matt Olson in the second, but Minor’s fastball was clocking at 92-93 mph.
Then the Athletics caught him for four runs in the fourth to take a 5-0 lead. Minor went out for the fifth and retired the side in order, striking out two. But the Rangers became concerned when they saw the velocity on his fastball drop to 88-89 mph.
“I had the long inning and then came out for the fifth. I started warming up, and it’s been like that the past couple of games, where I felt I hit a wall,” Minor said. “Velocity was down. That’s when I came back in, and they asked me how I felt. I said, 'I feel fine, I just don’t have any gas in me.' I felt fatigued.”
Minor was at 83 pitches and the Rangers discussed the possibility of sending him back out to see if it would help build stamina. Instead, Minor came out of the game.
“I was excited to see that we got to 83 [pitches],” Woodward said. “So I don't know if it's just a matter of getting more games. Maybe it's just a stamina thing. I want to make sure he was OK physically, wanted to know if he didn't feel right, or tight. As long as nothing about his arm was going to risk injury, that was the big thing.”
Minor recorded his 1,000th strikeout in the fifth inning. Otherwise, the loss left him 0-3 with a 6.89 ERA over three starts.
“I don't like to do this right now,” Minor said. “You know, I don't like going out there and throwing with less velocity and minimal stuff. It's embarrassing to be out there and to give up runs like that, especially for three bad games in a row. I don't feel like I'm at my best, and I'm having to grind out there to get through the innings.”