Monday Newsletter time: Rangers want to see ‘killer instinct’ from Taylor Hearn
(AP photo/David J. Phillip)
HOUSTON — Taylor Hearn wasn’t terrible Sunday in the series finale against the Astros.
An argument, though a bit of a stretch, could be logged that he pitched well enough to give the Rangers a chance to win.
With the way the offense performed at Minute Maid Park, though, he needed to match what Martin Perez did Friday night.
Instead, Hearn allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings as the Rangers lost to the Astros 5-2.. He gave up six hits, including a leadoff homer to Jose Altuve, and needed 89 pitches.
That seems to be the norm this season — inefficient and not quite good enough.
“He’s OK,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He just had a hard time finishing guys off. That’s kind of been the theme lately. He’ll get ahead of guys and just won’t wipe them out, won’t finish them off. I was really hoping he’d get through that fifth. That’s a big one for him, thrid time around, left him out there, two outs nobody on.”
The Rangers are 3-5 this season when Hearn starts, but only once has he exited with a lead.
The Rangers don’t seem ready to pull the plug on Hearn (2-3, 5.77 ERA) in part because he’s better than the alternatives. A.J. Alexy has pitched well his past two starts at Triple A Round Rock, and fellow right-hander Cole Winn rebounded from a rough stretch in his last start.
Alexy is on the 40-man roster, but neither has pitched well overall for a promotion.
The Rangers do not seem inclined to take Brock Burke out of his role. The lefty has been one of their best relievers this season.
It doesn’t look like Hearn is going anywhere.
“I have a really high ceiling for this guy,” Woodward said. “I’m trying to get him to grab that high gear.”
The Astros entered the game last in baseball in batting average vs. left-handed pitchers yet kept the pressure on Hearn. He did well to allow only single runs in the first and third, and the second run against him in the fifth came as Brett Martin allowed an inherited runner to score.
The back-breaking sequence came in the fifth after Hearn quickly retired the first two hitters but walked Alex Bregman on four pitches. He was ahead 0-2 on Yordan Alvarez, a lefty hitter, but hung a slider that turned into an RBI double.
“I take full responsibility for that,” Hearn said.
It could have been 2-1 at the end of five, but it was 4-1.
“He’s got to have the killer instinct to finish people off and finish the inning off,” Woodward said. “Those are things that define you. You’ve got to finish that inning off. He’s got to learn to grow and be that guy. I know he can be. I have a ton of belief in this guy.”
Bats go silent
Give much credit to Astros starting pitchers. They are very good and capable of doing what they did to the Rangers over the past four games.
The Rangers scored 1, 3, 1 and 2 runs, a performance not dissimilar from their three-game series at Yankee Stadium in which they scored five times in three games.
They struck out 10 times Sunday against Astros starter Jose Urquidy, who allowed solo homer to Mitch Garver in the fifth.
Woodward saw the Rangers’ at-bats improve later in the game. They gave themselves a chance in the ninth, scoring once and loading the bases with one out.
“We put some heat on them a little bit,” Woodward said.
However, pinch-hitter Jonah Heim bounced into a game-ending double play as the potential go-ahead run.
The Rangers are off Monday in California before opening a two-game series against the Angels, who will start Noah Syndergaard and Reid Detmers. The Rangers swept the Angels last week, and Syndergaard didn’t finish the first inning of his start.
It’s great to be back on the road from a work perspective. Being with the team is always better than covering via TV and via phone, and sometimes the Triple A team is playing only 30 minutes away. Here’s the latest from Rangers Today in case you missed (or are about to become a paid subscriber).
No Marcus Semien jokes, please. Enjoy. See you Tuesday.
— Eduardo Perez (@PerezEd) May 19, 2022
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com