ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Adrian Sampson isn't getting any offensive support, but he is advancing his candidacy for the Rangers rotation next year.
Sampson turned in his second straight encouraging start, allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings before the Rangers succumbed to a 3-0 loss to the Rays on Monday night at Globe Life Park. The Rangers have lost 14 of their last 20 games.
The Rangers managed just two infield singles over six innings against Rays starter Tyler Glasnow. Those are the only two hits they have over the 10 2/3 innings Sampson has pitched in his two starts, including a 1-0 loss to the Angels last Tuesday. He has lost both despite allowing just three runs.
"I thought it was a quality start for Adrian," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "It looked at first as if out of the strike zone with the fastball, but he righted himself in the second inning. Really seemed to be in command in all of his pitches. All the things we were looking for. … I thought he used the changeup really well, the breaking ball was in play and he was able to put the fastball where he wanted."
Sampson has relied mainly on the fastball in the past. If he can mix in the breaking ball and changeup for a three-pitch mix, it gives him a chance to be an effective starter. That's what the Rangers are looking for during this month's audition because he is not going to be overpowering.
"It was good," Sampson said. "I just have all my other pitches working now. I've always been a fastball guy and I have been able to throw all my other pitches and keep them off-balance. It has been good for two starts. … I am a workhorse and I can go deep in games. I can help the team I can give them innings as a starting pitcher. I just want to show them that."
Sampson gave up one run in the first inning on three consecutive singles by Mallex Smith, Tommy Pham and Ji-Man Choi to open the game. Choi also had a home run off him with two outs in the sixth and that was the last batter Sampson faced on the night.
The Rangers called up Sampson after he went 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 starts and 14 relief appearances at Triple-A Round Rock. His only Major League experience prior to the callup was one start for the Mariners in 2016 before undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon.
The Rangers claimed him off waivers after the 2016 season, knowing it would be a long rehab process with Sampson. So far the Rangers' foresight and patience have produced a badly needed rotation option for next year. The Rangers will likely have two more chances to look at Sampson as a starter before the season is over.
"These guys are still out here competing on a daily basis," Banister said. "We wanted to see Adrian and how he pitched. We hadn't seen him except in Spring Training. We knew what our scouts had told us. Obviously in two starts we haven't scored him any runs, but he has gone out and competed with his stuff. He'll continue to go out and compete and we'll assess and evaluate what we think at the end of the season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Athleticism is an asset for Isiah Kiner-Falefa behind the plate and he showed it in the seventh inning when the Rays tried a squeeze bunt. Mallex Smith dropped the bunt in front of home plate, Kiner-Falefa pounced on it quickly, then quickly reversed back and tagged out Kevin Kiermaier trying to score.
The Rangers were shut out for the 10th time this season, but the first time at home. The last time they were shut out at Globe Life Park was July 29, 2017, against the Orioles.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Rangers turned a terrific double play to get Sampson out of a jam in the first.
The Rays had runners at the corners with one out when Brandon Lowe smacked a hard grounder up the middle. Shortstop Elvis Andrus made a terrific diving stop and flipped the ball to Rougned Odor to start the double play.
HE SAID IT
"I am just trying to enjoy the game and show that I am healthy. I've got to go out there and throw my stuff and throw my pitches where I want to and enjoy the game. I need to finish strong and then we'll see what happens next year." -- Martin Perez, who has a 2.45 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in six appearances since being sent to the bullpen
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Kiner-Falefa threw out Smith trying to steal second base in the sixth inning. The Rays challenged the call, but it was confirmed by replay.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will try to snap a two-game losing streak when he pitches against the Rays at 7:05 p.m. CT Tuesday at Globe Life Park. Gallardo is 1-4 with a 7.76 ERA in his last six starts. Gallardo has made eight starts in his career against the Rays and is 3-3 with a 4.64 ERA. Blake Snell pitches for the Rays and will be going for his 20th win.