Fast start, solid Lynn not enough for Rangers

September 20th, 2020

The Rangers passed on using right-hander Jonathan Hernández in the eighth inning of a tie game on Saturday. That’s often when Hernández has been at his best this season, but manager Chris Woodward said the reliever wasn’t available against the Angels.

“He’s OK,” Woodward said. “It was just a minor physical thing. Nothing to worry about. Just didn’t want to use him.”

Left-hander Brett Martin was given the assignment instead, and the Angels pushed across an unearned run off him for a 4-3 victory at Angel Stadium. The loss was the Rangers' fourth in five games to start their nine-game road trip, and they are now 5-21 away from Arlington compared to 13-13 at home.

“Welcome to pandemic baseball,” Texas starter Lance Lynn said.

Lynn was given a 3-0 lead in the first inning on home runs by Leody Taveras and Rougned Odor against Angels starter Andrew Heaney. But Texas managed just three singles the rest of the game and the Halos were able to overcome the early three-run deficit.

Lynn went seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits without walking a batter. He struck out five and left after throwing 107 pitches. Lynn has thrown at least 100 pitches in 36 straight starts, the longest such streak for the franchise since 1988.

“You get spotted three in the first you're thinking, 'I gotta get through seven and make sure I got the lead when I come out,' and it didn’t happen,” Lynn said. “We weren’t able to add on or get their starter out of there; he was still in there in the seventh. That’s the next step, you hit them early and you stay on them.”

The Rangers did have closer Rafael Montero available if they had a lead going into the ninth. But Martin couldn’t keep it tied in the eighth. He began by walking David Fletcher. Jared Walsh followed with a grounder at first baseman Sherten Apostel and it snuck past him for an error, allowing Fletcher to go to third.

Apostel, a third baseman by trade, was making his second start at first base. He started 10 games there in the Minors as opposed to 231 at third.

“It’s a play he’s got to make,” Woodward said. “He knows that. Ton of top spin on that ball. He’s just got to spear the baseball. Obviously, it could have been a double play if he could just catch it and throw to second. Feel bad for him because he obviously hasn’t played a lot, as much as some other first basemen, but a play he should definitely make.”

Mike Trout followed with a single to left to drive home Fletcher and the Angels hung on for the victory.

The Rangers are 18-34 on the season, including a pair of complete-game wins -- one each from Lynn and Kyle Gibson. In the other 16 wins, the Rangers used either Hernández, Montero or both. Except for the complete games, Texas has yet to win a game without one of those two pitching.

That reinforces the Rangers' need to upgrade their bullpen for next season. The reinforcements start with right-hander José Leclerc and left-hander Joely Rodríguez being healthy again. The club still has high hopes for Martin, and right-hander Jimmy Herget (3.24 ERA) has pitched well this season.

“We have [some] guys going into next year that we should be able to count on who are still pretty young,” Woodward said. “We need to add pieces to that to have more depth, especially the way we use those guys quite often. We have played a lot of close games. We had to use those guys more than expected. I like the guys we have, but we need to add more.”