The Rangers and Pirates kicked off a three game series in Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Rangers came into the series on a hot streak having just swept the Colorado Rockies. Texas had to be feeling good about themselves coming into the game. Dane Dunning of the sub 2.00 ERA was the starter going up against rookie starter Luis Ortiz. The game was close and came down to the bullpens and much like most of this season the Rangers came up on the wrong end of this contest of bullpens.
Texas Rangers' aggressive approach at the plate.
The offense had most of their starters in the game tonight. Birthday boy Ezequiel Duran was given the night off. He was replaced at DH by Josh Smith. Ortiz came into the game with a 5.63 ERA after his first two starts. Ortiz had walked four in three innings his last time out against Detroit. Despite all of that the Rangers came out swinging on Monday night. They wanted to attack Ortiz early and often. Ortiz did a good job using that aggressiveness against the Rangers. The Rangers worked him for 16 pitches in the first inning. After that it was fewer and fewer pitches every other inning. In the fifth and sixth innings combined he threw a combined 14 pitches. He was at 64 pitches through six innings.
The only player who had a good night against Ortiz was Leody Taveras. He ended up with two base hits against Ortiz. It was his single in the sixth inning that led to the first run of the game. He moved to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a Semien fly ball to center, and then scored on a Seager fly ball to left. That tied the game at 1.
Dane Dunning had a good not great night. He was in and out of trouble most of the night. He skated through only allowing one run. The one run he allowed was in the second inning was on a ground out to Seager at short. The infield was drawn in, but the runner got a great jump and so Seager went to first and allowed the run at third to score. Dunning ended the night with 5 2/3 innings pitched, he gave up just the one run, had three strikeouts and three walks. In the sixth he walked Tupicata Marcano and then allowed a single to Connor Joe and that was it. Bruce Bochy lifted him from the game and handed the ball and a 1-1 game to Josh Sborz and the maligned Texas Rangers bullpen.
Texas Rangers' Generous Bullpen
Sborz was the first reliever brought into the game. In this game fans got to go on the Sborz experience ride. It was everything that fans have to come expect from Sborz. He was great and maddening all in the span of a few batters. He was brought in with two outs in the sixth and struck out Ji Hwan Bae to end the inning. He was brought back in the seventh. He started off by striking out Austin Hedges on three pitches and then got Andrew McCutchen to fly out. So two outs in the inning and that is when it came unraveled.
He went 3-1 to Bryan Reynolds and gave up a single on a 96mph fastball that was in the lower and middle part of the plate. He then walked Jack Suwinski on four pitches. Then Carlos Santana hit a single to right field that was a 97mph fastball that was in the middle of the strike zone. It was at first called an out at home, but after review it was determined that Reynolds was safe and the Pirates had a 2-1 lead. Sborz was then removed from the game
Joe Barlow was then brought in to try and keep it a one-run game. Remeber there were two outs this entire time. Barlow comes in and walks Ke'Bryan Hayes on five pitches. That loaded the bases for Marcano. Barlow got the count to 2-2, but then he hung a 86mph slider at the top of the zone and Marcano sent it out over the center field wall for a grand slam and a 6-1 lead. That was pretty much the game at that point. The bullpen on the night ended up pitching 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits. They also struck out four and walked two.
The Rangers did score three more runs. Semien had an RBI single in the eighth and Josh Jung a two-run homer in the ninth. David Bednar closed the door and the Pirates took the first game of this series 6-4.
The Rangers now fall to 29-18. They are still in first place, but with the Astros beating the Brewers their lead is now down to one game. The Rangers who are undefeated on Sundays now are 3-4 on Mondays and have lost three of the last four games they have played on Monday. Josh Sborz picks up the loss and the Pirates Luis Ortiz gets his first major league win.
Game 2 of the Series
The series continues tomorrow with a battle of veterans. It will be Nathan Eovaldi for the Rangers and lefty Rich Hill for the Pirates. Eovaldi saw his scoreless streak come to an end in his last start, but still left the game with the lead against Spencer Strider and the Braves after pitching seven innings. Eovaldi is looking to continue his dominant run in this month of May.
Rich Hill will be on the mound in his tenth start of the season. He has allowed three runs or less in seven of the ten starts. He is 43 years old and has a 4-3 record with a 3.80 era. He gives the Pirates a chance to win nearly every time he takes the mound. If the Rangers are swinging away tomorrow they will run into the same issues they had on Monday night.
The game time for tomorrow's game is 5:35pm local time and it will be broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest.