Keuchel, Rangers see progress despite loss
BOSTON -- The first two games of the Rangers’ series at Fenway Park had drastically different trajectories that ultimately yielded the same result for Texas.
In Thursday’s opener, starter Glenn Otto held Boston to three runs before the bullpen allowed six (including four in the ninth). The Rangers’ offense showed up with eight runs on 13 hits, but the Red Sox walked them off.
On Friday night, starter Dallas Keuchel surrendered seven runs and the ‘pen allowed just two, but the offense mustered only one run in Texas’ 9-1 loss to Boston. The defeat extended the Rangers’ losing streak to a season-high six games.
Keuchel’s line in his second start for the Rangers nearly mimicked that of his Texas debut, but both the veteran lefty and interim manager Tony Beasley felt Keuchel showed improvement. After throwing 27 pitches and allowing one run to open the game, Keuchel retired the next six batters he faced on just 20 pitches. He again ran into trouble in the fourth and fifth, throwing 44 pitches and yielding five runs before leaving in the fifth with a runner on second and two outs.
“I actually thought it was a much, much better start,” Beasley said. “I thought he had some tough luck in the fourth and the fifth inning, when [Leody Taveras] broke back on the ball in center that dropped in and two runs scored, but I saw a better execution of his pitches tonight. Used both sides better, his changeup worked good, his cutter was better. So it was a much better outing. So I kind of felt like he pitched much better than his line said.”
“I felt like I pitched a whole lot better than the line was, but it's just kind of another one of those unfortunate events, just some tough luck,” said Keuchel, who was charged with seven runs and walked three over 4 2/3 innings. “So I felt like I was making pitches and they were battling. I mean classic, classic Red Sox at Fenway game. It's tough to win here. So I was hoping to get off to a little bit better start.”
Some of that tough luck came on a play in the fourth inning with two outs. With runners on second and third, Boston first baseman Christian Arroyo hit a 1-1 cutter that skyrocketed before dropping in shallow center just in front of Taveras. Off the bat, the ball -- which was scored a single with an advance to second on an error by Taveras -- appeared to be traveling deep into the outfield.
“You react to the swing sometimes,” Beasley said. “It was a big swing, it's kind of a jam-shot ball that got in on the batter, and Leo just broke back. You'd like to freeze on that ball, get a read first before you react. But he had an initial reaction that went back and then allowed it to fall in front of him. I would [have] liked to see him recover and try to dive and catch it, but that didn't happen.”
Keuchel was relieved in the fifth by A.J. Alexy, who went 2 1/3 innings before turning the ball over to infielder Charlie Culberson. It was the third baseman’s second time taking the mound this season and eighth in his career. Culberson extended his scoreless streak to 6 1/3 innings over his last seven games after holding the Red Sox to one hit and one walk over one inning.
After using five pitchers to get through Thursday and with no starter announced yet for Saturday afternoon’s game, Beasley had limited options to get through nine innings on Friday night.
“It helped us out,” Beasley said of using Alexy for 2 1/3 innings. “We kind of had some scenarios that probably could have played out differently, and I don't know that I actually went in the right direction with that. But it did get us through the end of the game, and … we’ll have to use multiple guys tomorrow.”
Down two games in the series after the Red Sox’s come-from-behind win followed by a quiet night on offense for Texas, the Rangers look ahead to avoid a series loss on Saturday.
“Get some offense going and play a good game and close the game out,” Beasley said. “We had a chance yesterday to win a ballgame, and tonight wasn't in our favor. So just bounce back and play a solid game tomorrow.”