Kolby Allard may have put his spot in the rotation in jeopardy after failing to get out of the first inning on Friday night in Seattle.
Allard allowed four runs while retiring just two hitters, and the Rangers have now lost six straight games following a 7-4 loss to the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
Allard, who began the season in the bullpen before being asked to replace Corey Kluber, is now 0-2 with a 7.82 ERA in four starts. He threw five scoreless innings against the Angels on Aug. 8, but he’s allowed 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings in his past two starts.
“I think we've got to get off to better starts,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Bottom line: We're giving up a lot of runs early -- today, four in the first. We're not really doing much offensively in the first couple of innings. We need to start off better. We know how important it is to score first. I talk about it a lot, [but] we're on the flip side of that almost every game, and we're down 4-0, 5-0. It's a really tough hole to dig yourself out of every single time.”
Allard was replaced by Wes Benjamin, who made his second Major League appearance and allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings while throwing 63 pitches. Benjamin got the final out in the first, gave up a home run to Kyle Lewis in the second and another run in the third when Tim Lopes singled, stole second, went to third on Dee Gordon’s bunt single and scored on Braden Bishop’s groundout.
Bishop’s groundout was the first of nine straight batters retired by Benjamin. The streak ended when he walked Bishop to start the sixth, at which point Benjamin was replaced by Ian Gibaut.
One bright spot on Friday: Rangers rookie reliever Kyle Cody made his Major League debut and struck out the side in the eighth.
“We just cannot stop the bleeding,” Woodward said. “We keep giving up hits, and [then] we have to get guys out of the game. We were in a bind right there, getting into the bullpen in the first inning. That's never a good thing. It stretches your bullpen out, but what Wes Benjamin did, it was huge for us. He found a little groove there at the end."
Woodward agreed that Benjamin made a case with a possible audition for the rotation.
“By the way he threw tonight, maybe,” Woodward said. “It’s a consideration, for sure. What he did tonight, obviously he knows what his role is right now -- come in when something goes down early. I like what I have seen. I know he is going to throw the ball over the plate. I know he is going to command all four pitches. The more I get him out there, the more I like him. He is making a case for sure."
Allard’s next start is scheduled for Wednesday against the A's in Arlington, and he is not the only starter having trouble lately. Rangers starters have now allowed 29 earned runs in their past six games and are 5-10 with a 4.89 ERA this season. The rotation needs help, whether it is in Allard’s spot or elsewhere.
"Obviously, nobody is giving up on Kolby,” Woodward said. “We all love the kid. He just has to pitch better. He has had some rough ones. Hopefully we can right the ship. We can talk through it for the next start, and hopefully we can get him back on track because we need him.”