Pitch tipping? Lyles' 8 ER extends skid to 7

Starters have a 12.18 ERA, .409 BA against during losing streak

August 23rd, 2020

The Rangers saw their losing streak reach seven games after a 10-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday night at T-Mobile Park. Texas manager Chris Woodward reacted by calling a team meeting in the clubhouse after.

“I sensed some frustration,” Woodward said. “This team has a lot of fight in it. There are moments, though, when a team starts to lose hope, and the way we have been playing, it seems like everything is crashing down. We have to hold our head high.

“I have seen teams crumble because they couldn’t handle it, and everybody kind of disperses and goes their own way. I am not going to allow that to happen as long as I’m here. We are going to keep trying to find solutions and how to right the ship. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”

There were a few good highlights to take away on Saturday, including the relief work of and the offense of catcher and others.

But starting pitching has been the biggest problem during the losing streak, and that was the case again.

Lyles tipping pitches?
Starting pitcher gave up three runs in the first inning and eight runs total over four innings to take the loss. He dropped to 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA in his past three starts, and Woodward suggested that Lyles might have been tipping his pitches.

“Tonight, I thought there was something going on with Jordan in the first inning,” Woodward said. “They were taking some really healthy swings on some pitches. I don’t know if there is something there. When a team has something on a guy, a lot of times, you don’t know it until there are seven or eight runs. We are going to dig into that and see if there is something we can find.”

Rangers starters have allowed 38 runs, including 37 earned, and a .409 opponents batting average over 27 1/3 innings over the past seven games, raising their season ERA from 3.40 to 5.31.

The Rangers trailed 8-1 after three innings. They have now been outscored 22-7 in the first inning, and 55-23 through the first three innings this season.

“Eight runs in three innings, it’s really tough to be battling back every game being behind like that,” Woodward said. “I know it’s a broken record, but we have to figure it out. We are not going to win too many games. It’s not a good recipe for success.”

Hearn shows flash of dominance
Hearn took over for Lyles in the fifth and threw two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over 39 pitches.

Hearn is working out of the bullpen because there was no room in the rotation going into the season. But the Rangers hold out the idea Hearn’s long-term future could be as a starter.

“I haven't given up on that. I don't think we have as an organization,” Woodward said. “Possibly. I mean, the way things are going ... we may do that, to be honest with you. I still value him in that way, potentially, long-term. And I know he does as well. I just want to make sure he gets comfortable, obviously, in the big leagues right now.”

Young guys swing the bat
Trevino, Nick Solak and Isiah Kiner-Falefa were a combined 5-for-12, and all five of their hits had an exit velocity over 100 mph, per Statcast.

Trevino was 2-for-4 with a double and a single and now has multiple hits and at least one extra-base hit in four straight games. Ivan Rodriguez is the only Rangers catcher to have done that in club history, reaching the feat twice.

Solak also had a terrific catch in left field, racing to his right and making a diving catch on Sam Haggerty’s line drive to start the fourth. Statcast rated it a 5-star catch with a 15% catch probability on a 97 mph exit velocity, with 39 feet covered in three seconds.

“This is a team full of guys that I've come up with, I've played with, and there's no quit,” Trevino said. “No matter what happens, we're going to fight. Right now, things aren't going our way. Right now, we're getting knocked down. I think, for us, it's all about how we're going react to it and how we're going to get back up and how we're going to answer. And I think we're really close.”