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Youthful Rangers bullpen can't hold off Mariners

@Sullivan_Ranger
July 31, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he had an idea that reliever Chris Martin might get traded before the end of Tuesday. The two spoke briefly during batting practice and the decision was made not to use Martin in the game that night against the Mariners. “You just never

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward said he had an idea that reliever Chris Martin might get traded before the end of Tuesday. The two spoke briefly during batting practice and the decision was made not to use Martin in the game that night against the Mariners.

“You just never know when the actual transaction is going to occur so today we were going to actually stay away from him because we knew it was pending,” Woodward said after the Rangers’ 8-5 loss to the Mariners at Globe Life Park. “Kind of changed the way we were going to use our bullpen a little bit.”

By the fourth inning, Woodward was aware Martin, one of their most reliable relievers, had been traded to the Braves. His departure adds another challenge for the Rangers in their season-long quest to assemble a reliable bullpen and that was reinforced against the Mariners when the Rangers had to use four rookie relievers after starter Ariel Jurado allowed four runs, three earned, in four innings.

Box score

The pivotal moment was the seventh. The Rangers, trailing 5-1, had just scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the score. But the Mariners scored three in the seventh off left-hander Brett Martin and right-hander Taylor Guerrieri.

That was normally a situation reserved for either Jose Leclerc or Jesse Chavez. But with Chris Martin gone and Shawn Kelley on the injured list, the Rangers are even more shorthanded than usual in the bullpen. Chavez and Leclerc are now reserved for the eighth and ninth innings.

“It’s our job,” Woodward said. “As a staff, we have to find out what these guys are capable of. The thing about youth is you get one good outing and one not-good outing. We are trying to get them as consistent as possible, learn from every outing, good or bad, I think that’s really important. Obviously challenge them to see what they can handle.”

Brett Martin and Guerrieri were followed by Phillips Valdez and Kyle Bird. They are four of 13 rookie pitchers used by the Rangers this season. There are likely more to come before the year is out. Right-handers Emmanuel Clase, Joe Barlow and Demarcus Evans are among the Minor League candidates who haven’t yet made it to Arlington but are on the list.

“Chris was throwing the ball well, for sure,” catcher Jeff Mathis said. “These guys are up here for a reason. We’ll game plan, get our stuff ready every day and try to get as many guys out as we can.”

Danny Santana began the Rangers’ rally in the sixth with a leadoff home run, his third in the last five games. Rougned Odor had a two-run double that inning and scored on a game-tying single by Delino DeShields.

Any momentum gained from that inning, though, evaporated quickly. Martin, beginning his third inning of work, opened the seventh by walking Daniel Vogelbach on four pitches and was replaced by Guerrieri. Tim Beckham reached on third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera’s throwing error, then Kyle Seager brought home two with a triple and scored on a single by Tom Murphy.

The Rangers now wait for the final day and the passing of the Trade Deadline. They know there is a possibility All-Star left-hander Mike Minor could be traded, among others. That could make the final two months even more challenging.

“It’s hard to say about tomorrow,” Woodward said. “Obviously we will come to the field with the expectation that everybody will be here until they are not. Tomorrow is what it is. There are no more games to play before the Deadline. Until 3 o’clock, I’ll either call in a guy and tell him he has been traded or have the team that we are going to have.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.