Friday newsletter time: Leftovers from the Rangers’ season-opening victory
(AP photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
ARLINGTON — Choose one of the following to best describe the Rangers’ 11-7 Opening Day victory:
D) More beer, please
The answer from my perch in the press box was B. A lot — I mean a lot — happened Thursday at Globe Life Field.
• First up was the first pitch, thrown by Texas Ranger Lt. Reuben T. Mankin. He bounced the pitch, but consider the circumstances. He was on the field in front of a sellout crowd of 38,387, but none of them likely put as much pressure on Mankin than President George Bush and baseball Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Ivan Rodriguez. Bush and Ryan stood near the mound for the delivery, and Rodriguez was the catcher.
Did anyone else notice the game-day operations folks trying to usher the crowd off the field? Bush and Ryan seemed to have no interest in starting the game on time. Why not? They’re Texas legends. Hurrying is not a priority.
• Jacob deGrom’s first pitch was a 99-mph heater for a strike, He looked so good in the first inning, and really never looked bad. He had some unfortunate luck in his 3 2/3 innings, during which he allowed five runs on six extra-base hits. Take a look at the exit velocities, though. Only two of them were hard-hit balls. His starts will be a must-watch all season.
• The roof was open to start the game but had to be shut after the third inning with rain in the area. That was the first time that an open roof had to be closed during a Rangers home game. It should never have been opened, and, as I said in Thursday’s newsletter, it should always be closed.
• The nine runs in the fourth matched the Opening Day club record for runs in an inning, and the seven hits also tied a club mark. The other time the Rangers scored nine in the opener was in 1992 at Seattle. The starting pitcher that day? Nolan Ryan. The starting catcher? Ivan Rodriguez. Part of the ownership group? George Bush.
• The winning pitcher Thursday was left-hander Cole Ragans, who recorded the final out of the fourth and allowed a runner he inherited from deGrom to score. Ragans, though, was the pitcher of record when the Rangers rallied into the lead, and for his efforts he was credited with the first win of his career.
• Not mentioned nearly enough was the Bubba Thompson’s leaping catch in the eighth inning to take a home run away from Jake Cave. The catch preserved a four-run lead, and being up four is a big thing in the ninth inning. Had the Phillies’ deficit been only three, they would have sent the tying run to the plate in the ninth.
Instead, Nick Castellanos struck out to end the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle.
An off day?
It’s true: The Rangers are off today after playing all of one game to start the season.
They found themselves in a similar scenario in 2021, when the Rangers opened the season at Kansas City.
So, it’s not uncommon, but it is weird.
“It’s different, but it’s part of the grind,” outfielder Robbie Grossman said. “It’s going to be a long off day.”
The off day could give deGrom an extra day’s rest. Pitching coach Mike Maddux said that the Rangers will try to honor the off day rather than juggling the rotation. If that’s the case here, deGrom would pitch Wednesday against the Orioles.
He threw 73 pitches Thursday and said that he should be able to handle an additional 20 in his next start. That would have him stretched out enough for the reins to be loosened.
However, the Rangers are going to be monitoring their starters and creating extra rest as four of the five were on the injured list last season.
Card of the Week
The hero of Opening Day was Grossman, whose three-run homer in the fourth brought the Rangers back to even at 5-5 en route to the nine-run inning.
To commemorate Grossman’s blast, in his first game with the Rangers, his 2008 Bowman Draft gold is the Card of the Week.
The home run came against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, meaning Grossman was batting left-handed. That was supposed to be the switch-hitter’s worst side, though he made some adjustments to his leg kick that convinced the Rangers he could play the outfield every day.
He started in right field Thursday, and could do that until Leody Taveras (oblique) comes off the 10-day injured list. Adolis Garcia started in center field with Josh Smith in left. Thompson hit for Smith in fifth and went to center fielder, which sent Garcia to right and Grossman to left.
The Rangers will have a choice to make when Taveras is healthy — optioning Thompson or designating Travis Jankowski for assignment.
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Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org