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Texas’ DH split a reminder of growing pains

Huff, Apostel earn first hits, but pitchers falter in nightcap
@Sullivan_Ranger
September 13, 2020

The Rangers celebrated rookie left-hander Wes Benjamin’s first Major League win in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday. The second game offered a stark reminder that there are also rough spots and pitfalls for young pitchers to endure in trying to establish themselves as Major Leaguers. Left-handers Kolby Allard,

The Rangers celebrated rookie left-hander Wes Benjamin’s first Major League win in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Saturday. The second game offered a stark reminder that there are also rough spots and pitfalls for young pitchers to endure in trying to establish themselves as Major Leaguers.

Left-handers Kolby Allard, Taylor Hearn and John King experienced that in a 10-1 loss to the first-place Athletics, leaving the Rangers with a split of their doubleheader at Globe Life Field.

Box score

The Rangers out-hit the Athletics, 10-9, but Joey Gallo’s ninth home run was the only run-scoring knock in six innings off Athletics right-hander Chris Bassitt. Rookie catcher Sam Huff had a sixth-inning single for his first Major League hit, and Sherten Apostel, called up between the games to replace Elvis Andrus, who landed on the injured list, added his first career hit as well.

“It was funny, because I don't know if we've ever out-hit a team and lost by nine,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “It was really nice to see Huff and Apostel get their first hit. Both had good at-bats when they did.”

Allard pitched a scoreless first inning, but he then couldn’t retire a hitter in the second. The Athletics worked him and Hearn for seven runs on five singles and four walks around an error by Apostel. It marks only the second time this season an MLB team has scored seven runs in an inning without an extra-base hit.

Woodward was more irked by the four walks in the inning. Both of Hearn’s free passes came with the bases loaded.

“The one thing I want to make sure we have when we bring up young guys is we throw the ball over the plate,” Woodward said. “If the guy does throw the ball over the plate, I’d rather see a guy get hit than not throw the ball over the plate and not be able to execute. These younger guys coming up, that’s the one requirement I have -- you’ve got to be able to throw the ball over the plate and attack the strike zone.”

Saturday was Allard’s eighth start this season after replacing Corey Kluber in the rotation, and he keeps experiencing both the highs and the lows. He is 0-6 with an 8.49 ERA, and Woodward said the Rangers could now move Benjamin into that spot in the rotation.

“We are going to talk about it,” Woodward said. “It’s definitely something to consider. Maybe take the heat off [Allard].”

Woodward’s main frustration with Allard lately is the trouble he has with runners in base. Opponents are hitting .392 off him with runners on base this season, as opposed to .149 with the bases empty.

“We’ve got to figure it out,” Woodward said. “I know the kid’s competitive. He's got good stuff. The first time he got a runner on, he was fine and seemed OK. But it's almost when things start kind of going south this year, he has not been able to stop the bleeding.”

Allard’s struggles came after Benjamin, also a lefty, held the Athletics to two runs over four innings in the Rangers' 5-2 win in Game 1.

“I don't know at this point if it's a mechanical thing,” Woodward said. “If I'm being honest, I think just the lack of success at times is maybe getting to him a little bit. Maybe he doesn't have the same conviction behind the pitches and isn't able to execute. You saw in Game 1 against a similar lineup, obviously. A lot of the same guys, and we were able to execute, make pitches, and get guys out.”

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.