Woodward shoulders blame for 'pen struggles
Jurado allows 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings in a strong outing
ANAHEIM -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward wanted to stay away from three of his top relievers on Sunday afternoon. He had Chris Martin available, but he was reluctant to use Shawn Kelley, Jose Leclerc or Jesse Chavez because of their recent heavy workloads.
The problem for Woodward in trying to make a 5-1 lead stand up is the pitchers he turned to on Sunday had not been pitching much lately. Both left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Kyle Dowdy were working for the first time in eight days, and the layoff showed when they took the mound in the seventh inning.
The Angels, down four runs, scored six times in that frame and went on to a 7-6 victory over the Rangers in the series finale at Angel Stadium.
“That falls on me,” Woodward said. “Those guys have to get engaged more. We have had a lot of close games where we haven’t been able to get those guys in. They are out there competing. Springs did the best he could, I don’t expect his command to be perfect. Part of that falls on me, not getting them in there enough.”
The Halos' rally spoiled a strong outing from starter Ariel Jurado, who was making his second start -- to go along with nine relief appearances -- since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on April 26. Jurado allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings, before giving up a one-out single to David Fletcher in the seventh.
Jurado was at 94 pitches at that point and Woodward felt that was enough. He threw 76 pitches in his only other start for Texas on May 18 against the Cardinals. Jurado hadn’t thrown this many pitches since throwing 104 over 6 2/3 innings in his last start for Nashville on April 21.
“He hasn’t gone over that pitch limit,” Woodward said. “We wanted to keep him below a certain pitch limit. He actually got a little above where we wanted to go, because I was trying to stretch him to get more outs because we were kind of thin on the back end. I thought he did a great job.”
Woodward’s hope was that Springs could get the Rangers through the seventh. The plan then was for Shelby Miller to work the eighth and then turn the game over to Martin in the ninth. Woodward has been trying to get Springs, Dowdy, Miller and Jeanmar Gomez more engaged out of the bullpen.
Prior to Sunday, however, five of Texas' previous six games have been decided by one run, and the other by two. That has forced Woodward to rely on Kelley, Leclerc, Chavez and Martin, while staying away from the other four. The reasoning? Dowdy and Springs are rookies, Miller is trying to adjust to the bullpen and Gomez has an 8.22 ERA after 16 outings.
“Games like this, typically you get them in the game because you are forced to,” Woodward said. “I would have loved to have gotten them more work before this, but just because of the way games have played out, you don’t know how many chances you are going to win games, especially close games.”
Springs pitched well in relief for the Rangers at the end of last year, but he has been part of Texas' Triple-A bullpen shuttle this season. He did not get an out on Sunday, and he gave up four straight hits: a double by Jared Walsh, singles by Luis Rengifo and Tommy La Stella and a double by Mike Trout.
That barrage cut the Rangers' lead to 5-4 before Dowdy took over with runners at second and third. A sacrifice fly, an intentional walk, two wild pitches and a throwing error by catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa brought home three more runs.
“I just don’t expect them to be sharp when they are not pitching on a consistent basis,” Woodward said. “Springs came in and threw strikes. Yeah, he got hit, but I didn’t expect him to be perfectly sharp on every pitch.”
Miller pitched a scoreless eighth and the Rangers rallied in the ninth.
Shin-Soo Choo’s RBI double scored one run and Elvis Andrus moved him to third on a flyout to right. But Angels reliever Justin Anderson struck out Hunter Pence and then retired Nomar Mazara on a grounder to end the game.