ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson had trouble keeping the ball on the ground, and it cost him in the first exhibition game played at Globe Life Field.
Gibson gave up three home runs over five innings in the Rangers’ 5-1 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday night. Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado and David Dahl took Gibson deep in the first of two exhibition games the two teams will play before the regular season begins.
“I’m not happy,” manager Chris Woodward quipped. “We haven’t won a game all spring. Either that or we won them all. I don’t know what to think. It was nice to see our guys compete against another team.”
Gibson is normally one of the premier ground-ball pitchers in the game. Over the past four years, he has averaged 2.13 ground balls per fly ball, the fifth-best ratio among qualifying pitchers.
On Tuesday night, in addition to the three home runs and three other hits, Gibson retired eight batters on fly balls, three on grounders and four on strikeouts.
“I think the ball was up just a little bit,” Gibson said. “In some of the situations with the home runs, I probably threw the wrong pitch at the wrong time. Probably the ones they were looking for. They took some really good swings on pitches that were actually located pretty good.”
Gibson started the night by walking Dahl on four pitches. That was his only walk against the four strikeouts.
“My last start, I think I had four walks, and a lot of them were just because my fastball was way out of the zone,” Gibson said. “Ironically, I'm going to say that I did something better when I had a four-pitch walk to start the game, but once I got into that rhythm a little bit, everything was in the strike zone, and ... I'm guessing, but I think I threw about twice as many strikes as I did balls, so considering that the first guy was four straight, I'll take that.”
Gibson was also working with catcher Robinson Chirinos for the first time since Spring Training. Chirinos caught five innings in his first time behind the plate since spraining his right ankle a week ago Monday. Gibson’s next start will be next Tuesday against the D-backs in the fourth game of the regular season.
“Every now and then, you are just working on some things,” Gibson said. “That’s what Robbie and I were trying to do. I understand it’s an exhibition game and the last tuneup. We were working on a few things. I had a plan of things I wanted to work on and was able to do that, so it was good.”
Taveras, Gibaut bid for roster spots
The Rangers managed just six hits on the night and didn’t score until a Leody Taveras RBI single in the seventh. Taveras is now 8-for-25 this summer and getting serious consideration for a bench spot as an extra outfielder. His speed and defense are considered assets.
“It’s hard to find any faults in his game right now,” Woodward said. “He’s been really impressive. The fact that he’s still here tells you a lot. He’s still very, very in the mix. There’s a lot of competition for those spots, but the kid has played his butt off, honestly, in every way. Defensively, offensively, on the bases, he’s impacted pretty much every game he’s played.”
Gibaut was pitching in a game with three other relievers who have already locked down spots in the bullpen. Gibaut came to Summer Camp as a long-shot to make the Opening Day roster. The odds are much more in his favor with just three days to go.
“He has pretty much dominated since he came back,” Woodward said. “We knew he always had good stuff, that’s why we like him. He always had trouble throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters, all the things we value. He has had to adjust and learn to attack the strike zone. If he doesn’t make the team, or if he does, there is nothing else he could have done.”