You know things are going really wrong when even the most reliable players have a rough night.
Kyle Gibson fought hard through 4 2/3 innings on Saturday night, including 37 pitches in the third inning where he allowed two runs. Nevertheless, he and the bullpen minimized the damage and kept it close to give the Rangers a chance to come back.
In the top of the seventh inning, rookie infielder Anderson Tejeda stepped up to the plate to face Seattle left-handed starter Justus Sheffield and launched a two-out, game-tying home run deep to left field. What’s more is it was Tejeda’s first career home run as a right-handed hitter. He had been exclusively a left-handed hitter throughout his professional career and just began switch-hitting in 2019.
“I wasn’t expecting that, just put it that way,” Woodward said with a smile. “I had talked to a lot of our player development department about his right-handed swing and how far it’s come, but also how far it needs to go.
“Obviously, we knew he had power from the left side. We knew it would transition over to the right side if he worked on the right things. To hit a homer tonight to tie the game late, was pretty cool moment for him.”
Tejeda’s first career right-handed home run came in his fifth career game. He is only the second batter in Rangers history to homer from both sides of the plate within his first five career games.
The first was Ruben Sierra, who homered off LHP Charlie Leibrandt in his Major League debut on June 1, 1986, and hit a home run off RHP Tom Seaver in his fourth career game on June 4, 1986. Seaver passed away only a few days ago on August 31.
The Rangers were unable to complete the comeback, despite having their most reliable reliever on the mound in the eighth inning. Jonathan Hernández hit Kyle Seager to lead off the inning, then allowed four consecutive hits that gave Seattle a 5-2 lead before recording an out.
Hernández retired the next three batters in order, but the damage was obviously done.
“He was still throwing hard. I think the only thing we didn’t see—you can only tell from the side—it looked like some of those pitches were decent, but they just didn’t have the depth,” Woodward explained. “I think that the last time he got hit kind of hard was similar. The ball wasn’t going down. His sinker was kind of running. It wasn’t sinking.”
However, the rough outing isn’t going to keep Woodward from putting Hernández back out there in a big spot again.
“He’s been a warrior for us,” Woodward continued. “He’s been our best pitcher out of the bullpen. Him and [Rafael] Montero have been amazing for us. We can’t ask him to go out there and throw zeros up every night. It’s just unfortunate that tonight, we needed a win in a tie game. But we’re gonna put him right back in a spot when we have a chance again.”
The Rangers have now lost four straight games and are 13-25 on the season. Their .342 win percentage is the third-lowest in baseball.
Jordan Lyles will take the ball for Texas on Sunday afternoon in Seattle. The Rangers talked about using an opener for Lyles as they did for his last outing in Houston. However, the bullpen was put to work on Saturday night, so the plan is for Lyles to start.