MILWAUKEE -- The starter was pitching in his fourth Major League game, his first for the Rangers. The reliever on the mound in the ninth inning was making his third Major League appearance.
This is a big part of what’s in store for the Rangers over the next two months as they evaluate some of their prized young players, and it’s not always going to go smoothly.
This one didn’t for right-handed reliever Emmanuel Clase, who gave up a two-out home run to Eric Thames in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Brewers a 6-5 victory over the Rangers on Friday at Miller Park.
Clase had given Texas a scoreless eighth inning after the Rangers started a rally that saw them go from being down 5-2 to a tie game. He also retired the first two hitters in the ninth before Thames hit a 3-1 cutter over the right-field fence to win the game.
“I thought Clase did a real good job throwing the ball,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Just one pitch where I felt Thames was looking in that spot. He knows Clase throws hard and he knows his ball cuts, and he kind of beat him to the punch.”
Woodward admitted that’s a tough situation for a young pitcher to be put in so early in his career.
“We have put him in some high-leverage situations,” Woodward said. “For a young kid, that’s a lot to ask. I think he’ll be fine. Walking off the field, he seemed fine. The guy beat him. That is going to happen. Thames is a good hitter.”
Rangers starter Kolby Allard was promising in his first outing for the Rangers. Relying heavily on his fastball, Allard went 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven. It was his first start for Texas since being acquired from the Braves on July 30 for reliever Chris Martin.
“It was really impressive,” Woodward said. “I was really impressed with how his fastball played. Really good action on his changeup. Loved to pitch inside and beat a lot of guys with that heater inside. I really liked his tempo, the way he attacked hitters, his command. I felt it was really good.”
Allard gave up a run-scoring double to Ryan Braun with two outs in the first inning and then retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced. He ran into trouble in the fifth, though, after Hernan Perez, the Brewers’ No. 8 hitter, reached on an infield single in a 1-1 game.
Allard then got ahead 0-2 against Ben Gamel, a left-handed swinger who was pinch-hitting for starter Gio Gonzalez and couldn’t finish him off. Instead he missed on four straight pitches to walk him and then walked Lorenzo Cain to load the bases.
Adrian Sampson took over and walked Keston Hiura to force in a run that was charged to Allard. Sampson then struck out Mike Moustakas and Ryan Braun to get the Rangers out of the inning.
“I was attacking hitters and making some good pitches,” Allard said. “Obviously, I was getting into too many deep counts and the pitch count got a little high. Then in the fifth, I almost got into that mode of nibbling a little bit rather than just going at them and attacking them like I was the first two times through the order. I made it a little bit harder on the bullpen. All in all, it could have been better, but it wasn’t bad.”
The Rangers trailed 5-2 going into the eighth inning, but Logan Forsythe hit a two-run home run off Milwaukee reliever Jake Faria and then Elvis Andrus tied it in the ninth by going deep with one out against All-Star closer Josh Hader.
Texas had just four hits in the game, but three were home runs. Hunter Pence hit his 17th home run of the season in the fourth inning off Gonzalez, which traveled a projected 449 feet according to Statcast. Brewers pitchers walked 10 batters and Hader hit two others, but the Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. They are 0-for-14 in such situations in their last four games.
“We put ourselves in situations where we could have done a lot of damage,” Woodward said. “That big hit is obviously escaping us. We’ve been pretty resilient all year, but now we have to push through it and find that big hit that can put us ahead.”