Burke raises hopes with second strong start

Rookie lefty impresses again, allowing just one run in six innings

August 25th, 2019

CHICAGO -- The Rangers left Chicago with just one win in four games against the White Sox, but they saw two excellent performances from their rookie starting pitching.

That may not be much of a consolation in the moment, but it could bode well for the future and that is foremost on the Rangers’ agenda right now. At some point, better hitting on the road may climb higher on the agenda too.

Left-hander allowed just one run over six innings in his second Major League start, but the Rangers managed only one hit against five White Sox pitchers in a 2-0 loss at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon.

Burke’s outing came one day after left-hander threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Rangers’ 4-0 victory on Saturday night.

"The guy from today and from last night, they pitched very well,” White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu said. “You could see they have a lot of talent.”

Burke allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out five. Four of the five strikeouts came on his fastball as did seven of 10 swing-and-misses. Burke’s fastball averaged 92.3 mph with a high of 94.8 mph, and his extension (EXT) is also a crucial asset.

Extension quantifies how much closer to home plate a pitcher's release point is than the pitching rubber. The longer it is, the better, and Burke averages seven feet of extension, which is tied for the third best by a left-hander in the Major Leagues this season.

“It’s something you just can’t teach,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He is pretty deceptive. His arm is late coming over the top, so it’s hard to see anyway, and the ball just gets on you. On top of that, he has velocity. He is really effective.”

Burke is the first Rangers pitcher to throw six innings in his first two Major League starts and allow one or no runs. He threw six scoreless against the Angels on Tuesday, leaving Woodward to wonder aloud how Burke would do when facing some adversity.

Woodward got his wish in the first inning when the White Sox had the bases loaded with one out. Eloy Jimenez hit a line drive with an exit velocity of 109 miles per hour but right at shortstop . Abreu, after a replay review, was ruled to have been doubled off second base, and Burke escaped without allowing a run.

That allowed Burke and catcher to get together in the dugout and go over their signs. There was some confusion between the two in the first inning.

“They were stealing our signs, we thought, in the first couple of games,” Burke said. “So we tried to do something really complicated and we just weren’t on the same page on how it was going. We got it figured out in the second inning.”

The only White Sox run off Burke came in the third when the rookie walked Yolmer Sanchez, the No. 9 hitter, to lead off the inning. Leury Garcia bunted Sanchez to second and he moved to third when Andrus fumbled Tim Anderson’s grounder for an error. Abreu brought the run home with a single to left.

Burke finished up by retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced over three scoreless innings through the sixth.

“I was just throwing too many fastballs early and they were on to that,” Burke said. “That’s probably my scouting report. In the third, fourth and fifth innings, I started throwing changeups and sliders for strikes, Once I did that, I was able to get them off my fastball and get some swings and misses.”

He ended up taking the loss as the Rangers managed just one hit off White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez and four relievers. Lopez did not allow a hit through five innings, but he had to leave the game at that point after experiencing dehydration and flu-like symptoms. The Rangers' first -- and only -- hit was a single by Shin-Soo Choo in the sixth off reliever Aaron Bummer.

This is the 24th time in Rangers history they have been shut out and held to one or no hits. The Rangers are now hitting .231 on the road, the lowest average in the American League.