Solak, Burke hit the ground running in debuts

Rangers down Halos in 11 for 2nd straight night

August 21st, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Rangers rookie pitcher and infielder had an unforgettable time on their first day in the Major Leagues, and it ended on a victorious note.

It also came at the expense of one of the greatest players in Major League history, but nobody on the Rangers side was going to shed any tears for Angels first baseman Albert Pujols. So what if his error on Solak’s liner brought home the winning run in the 11th inning?

Burke is going to remember his six scoreless innings in his Major League debut, Solak is going to savor his first home run and reliever Emmanuel Clase is going to savor his first big league win.

That’s what the second game of the Rangers doubleheader against the Angels was all about, and they pulled out a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park. The win enabled the Rangers to gain a split of the doubleheader after a 5-1 loss in the first game.

“That was amazing,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” Burke said despite not coming away with his first Major League victory.

“I always dreamt about playing in the big leagues,” Solak said. “To be here, it's really exciting and a lot of fun. It was a great day, and a really exciting day, and a lot of fun.”

Solak was called up before Game 1 when Nomar Mazara went on the injured list. He started at designated hitter in Game 1 and got his first Major League hit out of the way. He and Burke had bigger things in store for the nightcap.

The Rangers desperately needed what they received from Burke with their bullpen already pushed to the edge by an 11-inning tilt on Monday, and Joe Palumbo being forced out of his Game 1 start in the second inning with a blister on his left thumb.

“He was obviously really, really good,” Woodward said. “I think the poise, that’s what I saw in Spring Training. It was a lot of the same thing tonight. It just seemed like nothing really shook him.”

Burke was supposed to make one start and then go back to Nashville. But he is expected to take Palumbo’s spot in the rotation and start on Sunday against the White Sox.

“He’s got good stuff,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “For one, he’s got kind of a tough angle for the hitters, in terms of picking up the ball. I thought he was actually pretty impressive for a young pitcher. He looks like he’s got a chance to be pretty good.”

Solak’s fifth-inning home run, plus a double by Jose Trevino and a single by Danny Santana, gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Burke had one tense moment in the sixth when he faced Pujols with two on and two outs. But he retired the future Hall of Famer on a fly ball to right to end the inning.

“That was huge,” Burke said. “Definitely wanted to get through that sixth inning and make sure no one had to come in and clean up the inning. That was the biggest part of the night.”

The Rangers led 2-0 with six outs to go. But reliever Shawn Kelley gave up an RBI double to Shohei Ohani in the eighth and Brian Goodwin tied it in the ninth with a home run off closer Jose Leclerc. That kept Burke from getting the victory.

“I was a little disappointed, but I was just trying to get as many innings as I could and get us deep in the game,” Burke said. “I knew the bullpen had been hurting the last couple of days with the doubleheader.”

The Rangers turned it over to Clase and he pitched two scoreless innings to put himself in position for the win after two losses in his first seven outings.

“I had a lot of challenges the last couple of times,” Clase said. “But I kept after it, and kept trusting my stuff.”

Solak came up in the 11th against reliever Ty Buttrey with two outs, Delino DeShields on second and Logan Forsythe on first. Solak hit a grounder right at Pujols, and the ball squirted past him into right field. DeShields scored easily to end the game.

“I was hoping it was going to get by him, one way or the other, or that I was going to try to beat him to the bag,” Solak said. “So when I saw it kick into the outfield, I had a good feeling that Delino was going to be able to score. To come out on top and walk it off was a lot of fun.”