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Lyles struggles as Texas' young bats blanked

@Sullivan_Ranger
September 23, 2020

The Rangers’ lineup was notable for two reasons on Tuesday night. It was the youngest lineup fielded by Texas this season, and it was also the first one to get shut out. The Rangers had six singles, including three by Eli White, and couldn’t cross home plate in a 7-0

The Rangers’ lineup was notable for two reasons on Tuesday night. It was the youngest lineup fielded by Texas this season, and it was also the first one to get shut out.

The Rangers had six singles, including three by Eli White, and couldn’t cross home plate in a 7-0 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field. Texas is 2-6 so far on this road trip, which ends Wednesday afternoon at Arizona.

Box score

Rangers starter Jordan Lyles took the loss, allowing seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits in five-plus innings, striking out three. The right-hander also committed two of Texas’ three errors.

“He got hit kind of hard,” manager Chris Woodward said. “I don’t think he was as sharp as he was his last outing. We didn’t play good defense behind him, and he was a part of that. Any time you give extra outs to any Major League team, you’re flirting with disaster. It just wasn’t a great game overall.”

The average age for the Rangers’ lineup was 24 years, 145 days. Six of the nine players were rookies and three of them -- Anderson Tejeda, Sam Huff and Sherten Apostel -- had not played above Class A Advanced before this season.

However, it was the veterans who couldn’t come through when Texas had a chance for a big first inning.

Arizona left-hander Caleb Smith opened the game by walking the first three batters to load the bases. He came back to get Joey Gallo on a foul popout and to strike out both Rougned Odor and Tejeda to end the inning.

“Bases loaded and nobody out, you think you have a chance to really do some damage there and unfortunately, we didn’t get it done,” Woodward said. “That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. When you don’t hit good, you don’t pitch good and don’t really play good defense, that’s typically the result, 7-0.”

The Rangers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and are hitting .216 this season in those situations, the lowest in the American League. With his foul popout, Gallo has one hit -- a grand slam -- in his past 22 at-bats with the bases loaded, dating back to the beginning of the 2018 season.

“He puts a little too much pressure on himself at times,” Woodward said. “We’ve obviously got to get him out of that and maybe make him think a little bit more positive to say, ‘I'm in control here, not that guy.’"

This loss came two days after the Rangers had an exhilarating 7-2 win over the Angels in Anaheim. In that game, Huff hit his first Major League home run, rookie starter Kyle Cody earned his first win and the club was feeling good about its young players.

Such highs and lows are likely to continue as the Rangers go with a young roster and try to rebuild for the future.

“I don’t want to deal with the lows, but we are going to have to deal with that at times,” Woodward said. “A lot of talking points and learning points from today’s game. The one thing I will comment on, our guys that have made mistakes, they are not afraid to openly talk about it. They are discussing their at-bats. Down 7-0, I don’t see anybody hanging their heads.

“That’s probably the youth speaking, because they have a lot to prove and they can’t quit. But I want to continue to see that, because we need to keep discussing these things and speed up the learning process.”

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.