SEATTLE -- Rangers rookie left-hander Taylor Hearn quoted Nelson Mandela after his Major League debut on Thursday night.
“I think Nelson Mandela said it best, one of his quotes I love is, 'You either win or you learn, you never lose.’” Hearn said after the Rangers’ 14-2 loss to the Mariners. “So that's one thing I'm taking with me this outing.”
That’s the best thing Hearn could take from this one because his Major League debut did not go the way he or manager Chris Woodward expected. Hearn was able to retire just one of eight batters faced in the first inning and ended up allowing five runs (four earned) against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
“Talked to him before the game, he was in good spirits and he was calm,” Woodward said. “I think if he had gotten through the first inning, things would have been a little different, but obviously the big leagues is tough. Obviously he’ll learn from that.”
Hearn admitted he was nervous going into the game, but he also said he felt strong warming up in the bullpen before taking the mound.
“I wish the stuff that I was throwing in the bullpen would have translated to the game, because I was trying to figure out what happened,” Hearn said. “In the bullpen, everything was pounding the zone, then I go out there, and I'm just thinking to myself halfway [through it], I'm like, 'What just happened?' I just lost my control. But it's part of the game, honestly. Just short-term memory and be ready for the next one.”
Woodward said Hearn started trying to “baby” the ball across the plate instead of just attacking the hitters. That’s Hearn’s strength and it got away from him against the Mariners.
“I was trying to get strike one,” Hearn said. “I know at times with me being a hard thrower, I can get amped up too much. So I know for a fact if I can try to get strike one and then try to ease back into it after that. But no, I was just trying to get strike one, honestly, and get ahead of those guys.”
Hearn walked four, including the first three batters he faced, and gave up three hits. The only out came on a fly ball. This was the second fewest outs recorded by a Rangers pitcher in a Major League debut.
Wilson Alvarez failed to get anybody out in his debut for the Rangers on July 24, 1989. He was traded to the White Sox five days later along with outfielder Sammy Sosa and infielder Scott Fletcher for outfielder Harold Baines and infielder Fred Manrique.
“Something he is going to have to learn from … attack the strike zone instead of just babying something in there,” Woodward said. “He was trying to throw strikes. He was yanking some balls. The thing that makes him good is when he attacks through the strike zone. Attacking the strike zone instead of babying it.”
This was a shortest outing by a Rangers starter since Vicente Padilla faced two batters on Sept. 16, 2007, against Athletics. Padilla was ejected from that game after Nick Swisher was hit by a pitch and charged the mound.
The only other Rangers starters to walk four batters while getting one or no batters out were Roger Pavlik on April 18, 1997, against Toronto and Don Durham on Aug. 29, 1973, against the Orioles.
This was the 44th time in Rangers history that a starter retired one or no batters in an outing and Hearn is in pretty good company. Among those who had short outings for the Rangers were Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry and other notable hurlers including Kevin Brown, Darren Oliver, Bobby Witt and Kenny Rogers.
"I'll always be nervous, because it's the big league debut, and you want to try to impress and do well,” Hearn said. “I definitely wasn't trying to press too hard, trying to really impress, just trying to go out there and do my thing, but the results didn't end the way I wanted them to. But I'm gonna try to do better next outing.”