Sampson pitched after being called up from Triple-A Nashville earlier in the day. The Rangers felt they might need a reliever who could go multiple innings after a taxing three-game series against the Cubs and Drew Smyly making his first start since September 2016 on Monday night against the Astros.
That proved to be the case, and Sampson gave the Rangers six strong innings while allowing one run on four hits. But that run, which was produced by doubles from Carlos Correa and Robinson Chirinos in the sixth inning, proved to be the difference in the game.
“Very, very impressive,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It's unfortunate that he gets the loss for that, because he saved us in so many ways. That was really impressive to watch. Obviously, it was a tremendous help to everybody down in that bullpen. It showed me a lot -- showed everybody a lot."
Sampson was one of the Rangers' last cuts out of Spring Training. They considered keeping him as a long reliever but felt he would be better starting every fifth day at Triple-A. Sampson threw a bullpen session on Sunday in Nashville and was scheduled to start for the Sounds this Saturday.
“I feel good,” Sampson said. “Any chance you can pick up the guys and save the bullpen a little bit and get some innings is a good thing. It was a quick game, just fill up the zone and get them out. I thought it was good. Mentally, I am ready for any kind of scenario, good or bad. I always knew I had to stay ready.”
Sampson, who threw 70 pitches, could remain with the Rangers even though he won’t be available to pitch for at least 2-3 days. Woodward said the Rangers won’t need any more pitching reinforcements after what Sampson did on Monday.
“Yeah … now, we've got guys that are pretty much fully rested down there, so we should be fine,” Woodward said. “We've got some length down there still, and everybody else just got an extra day of rest, which is awesome.”
To make room for Sampson, the Rangers optioned rookie left-hander Kyle Bird to Nashville after just two appearances and placed Yohander Mendez on the 60-day injured list. He is expected to miss the first half of the season with a sprained ligament in his left elbow.
Miller excited for home state
Right-hander Shelby Miller is scheduled to start for the Rangers on Tuesday. He will be the 25th native-born Texan to start a game for the Rangers.
Nolan Ryan is the all-time leader with 129 starts for the Rangers, followed by Roger Pavlik with 125 and Danny Darwin with 94. The last was Andrew Cashner, who made 11 starts for Texas in 2017.
Miller was born in Houston and raised in Brownwood, which is 150 miles to the southwest of Arlington.
“I think it is awesome because my family is going to be here,” Miller said. “Just them being able to drive two hours to see me pitch is something special I haven’t had in the past. Just this ballpark and pitching in front of fans I was raised around, being from Texas, is something near and dear to my heart.”
Miller underwent Tommy John surgery on March 31, 2017, while with the D-backs and pitched in just five games (four starts) last season. But he made all his starts for the Rangers in Spring Training without any issues.
“I’m 100 percent,” Miller said. “Going through Spring Training and being healthy through all of that, had a little stage where I had to get over a hump with my arm. I feel as healthy as I’ve ever have.
"I’m at the point of my career where I’m not 22 like I used to be. You can’t just do a couple of arm circles and go out and throw. I have to stretch and get in my routine before the game, but right now, my body feels great.”
Sadzeck traded to the Mariners
The Rangers have traded right-handed pitcher Connor Sadzeck to the Mariners. The Rangers will receive Minor League right-handed pitcher Grant Anderson in return.
“Grant is an intriguing reliever prospect," Daniels said. "He’s got a deceptive sidearm delivery and saw his stuff tick up late last summer and this spring. We’re excited to welcome him to the Rangers and watch him compete.”
Anderson was a 21st-round pick by the Mariners out of McNeese State University in the 2018 Draft. He pitched in 12 games as a reliever in the lower levels of their system at the end of the season. In 13 innings, he allowed three runs on four hits, seven walks and 13 strikeouts.
Sadzeck entered Spring Training out of Minor League options and did not make the Opening Day roster. He was designated for assignment after pitching in eight Cactus League games. In 8 1/3 innings, he allowed seven runs on four hits with eight walks and 11 strikeouts.
• Sunday’s victory marked the first time a Rangers player scored a walk-off run from third base on a wild pitch since Ivan Rodriguez against the Twins in 1999.
• The Rangers had a walk-off victory on Sept. 29, 2010, when Mitch Moreland scored from first base on a wild pitch against the Mariners. Nelson Cruz struck out for what should have been the third out, but the ball got away from catcher Guillermo Quiroz, who then threw wildly to first base and Moreland came around to score.
• Delino DeShields went a Major League-high 280 at-bats without a home run before his grand slam on Sunday. It was the first grand slam by a Rangers center fielder since Marlon Byrd in 2009.