Rangers drop slugfest to Phillies on Opening Day
Scheppers lasts four innings; Rios, Wilson each with three RBIs
ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Tanner Scheppers didn't offer any excuses after a rough performance on Opening Day.
"It was extremely disappointing," Scheppers said. "I put hitters in good counts, and they took advantage of it. Overall, I need to make better pitches. I was trying to be too fine and pick at the corners. That's not my game. I need to throw strikes, pound the zone and attack hitters."
Scheppers didn't do that while allowing seven runs in four innings. Neither did a few relievers who came in behind him. Instead, five pitchers combined to give up the most runs on Opening Day in club history and the Rangers were outslugged, 14-10, by the Phillies before a crowd of 49,031 on Monday at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers have now lost two straight on Opening Day after winning their previous four. They are 21-22 on Opening Day since the franchise moved to Arlington. The Rangers also had a home-opener five-game winning streak come to an end.
"A lot of good things happened out there, we just didn't pitch as well as we would like to," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Every time we put up runs, they either matched it or put up more runs to keep us behind. There are definitely some things we need to correct, but it's only one game. We'll get better as we go along."
The 24 combined runs were the highest both on Opening Day and in a home opener in club history. The Phillies, who have been around a lot longer than the Rangers, also set a club record for most runs scored on Opening Day.
"It was a great atmosphere, and a lot of support. … A big day," designated hitter Mitch Moreland said. "We didn't come out with a win, but there were a lot of positives. Hopefully we can roll it over and get our first win [Tuesday]."
This was the 13th time since 1914 that two Major League teams each scored at least 10 runs in the same game on Opening Day.
"Everybody played their hardest, it just didn't work out," first baseman Prince Fielder said. "It was just one of those days. It was a lot of fun, it just didn't work out."
Scheppers -- making his first Major League start after 115 relief appearances and becoming just the second pitcher since 1945 to make his first big league start on Opening Day -- retired the side in order in the first, then allowed 11 of 20 batters to reach base over the next three innings, on eight hits and three walks.
The Phillies scored six runs off Scheppers in the second inning. The big blow was a grand slam by Jimmy Rollins, but Scheppers also walked three batters in the inning. Scheppers hadn't walked more than one batter in an inning in any of his 115 relief appearances.
"I don't believe he has been a starting pitcher by nature, or at least when he's been up here," Rollins said. "He's been coming out of the bullpen, so he was probably a little bit in a position he probably wouldn't usually find himself in. We talked it over in the back, and you don't want to get beat by a guy who isn't in his right position."
The Rangers were still able to strike back quickly against Phillies starter Cliff Lee. Josh Wilson, making his first start on Opening Day, hit a three-run double in the second that helped make it 6-4. Alex Rios then put the Rangers ahead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third.
The Rangers didn't hold the lead very long. The Phillies tied it on a two-out RBI single by Chase Utley in the fourth and, after left-hander Pedro Figueroa took over for Scheppers, they went ahead in the fifth on a two-run double by pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr.
A two-out double by J.P.Arencibia and a single by Leonys Martin made it 9-8 after five, and Lee was done at that point. But the Phillies put up four runs in the sixth that helped assure Lee would get his first Opening Day win. Figueroa retired the first two hitters he faced before Marlon Byrd started the rally with a home run. After a single by Domonic Brown, Washington brought in Alexi Ogando to keep it a two-run game. But he gave up a couple hits and a couple of walks as the Phillies re-opened a 13-8 lead.
"Ogando is a strike thrower, but he was falling behind hitters, something he normally doesn't do," Washington said. "To beat him, you have to swing the bat, but he just didn't have his command."
The Rangers scored two in the seventh, but Arencibia grounded into a double play with no outs and the bases loaded, and Elvis Andrus bounced out with the bases load to end what could have been a bigger inning. Cody Asche, hitting in the No. 8 spot for the Phillies, closed out the scoring with an eighth-inning home run. The bottom three spots in the Phillies' order reached base 10 times in 15 plate appearances. The top three spots in the Rangers' order were a combined 2-for-14 with a walk.
"It was a tough day for pitchers," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "Obviously not a good day for Schepp. He battled, and he'll learn from this. Their offense was better. We scored [eight] runs off Cliff Lee, and that's pretty good, but their offense was better than our offense today."