ARLINGTON, Texas — The warm fuzzy feeling that was created by Justin Grimm’s solid start in his major league debut last weekend was snuffed out quickly Monday night.
A start in which you retire just three batters, throw 52 pitches and allow six runs can have that kind of effect.
Grimm lasted just one inning against Detroit and the Texas offense did little to help the cause as the Rangers opened the three-game series by getting thumped 8-2.
Grimm and the Rangers were never really in the game.
It was 2-0 before Grimm got his first out and after he got out No. 2 with the Texas trailing 3-0, the Tigers strung together three more hits to make it a 5-0 game before the Rangers even got an at-bat.
Texas manager Ron Washington sent Grimm back out for the second despite a 40-pitch first but it didn’t last as the first two batters reached before he was pulled. The Tigers led 6-0 going into the bottom of the second and were on cruise control from there.
There was no cruising for Grimm, who was pitching in Double A two weeks ago.
“I wanted to go out there, execute and pound the zone,” said Grimm, who allowed three runs in six innings in beating Houston in his first start. “I didn’t go out there and walk many people. I just didn’t throw pitches in the right locations and the ball was up a little bit. I didn’t execute my pitches. It’s a humbling game.”
Grimm did throw strikes again, with 34 of his 52 pitches in the strike zone. But most of them were over the middle of the plate and the Tigers feasted on him, sending 10 batters to the plate in the first inning. His start was the shortest by a Texas starter since Derek Holland lasted 2/3 of an inning on July 2, 2011.
“It was obvious he got hit around,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “It’s a pretty good hitting team. When he threw the ball out over the plate, they didn’t miss it. It was a rough night for him.”
As bad as Grimm was, he would have had to been at his best the way the Texas offense struggled against Rick Porcello. Porcello pitched just one inning in an April start against the Rangers and allowed nine runs.
Neither Porcello nor the Rangers offense were in April form Monday though as Porcello allowed just one run in six innings. The Rangers did collect six hits and three walks off him in that time, but on a night when Texas was just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, it was far from enough.
The Rangers, who have won eight of their last 10 games, have been in big deficits in the two they have lost. Saturday Texas trailed 11-1 against Colorado before losing 11-7. Monday it was 8-0 before Josh Hamilton’s two-run homer in the seventh ended the shutout.
Texas left runners on base in the first, second, fourth fifth and sixth innings. Porcello struck out Napoli with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
Playing from behind is tough for an offense, but the Rangers didn’t use that as an excuse.
“Tonight it’s hard to perform offensively when you’re in a hole,” said David Murphy, who went 0 for 2. “It’s not an excuse, it’s part of the game, but it’s a fact at the same time. It’s more challenging when you’re in a hole early. We have a potential that we are not playing too but there’s no reason to dwell on that because for the most part we are winning games.”
Despite the loss, the Rangers may have gotten a big blow from Hamilton. His homer was just his second this month. While it was his only hit and just his second on the home stand, it may be just what he needs to get going again.
Michael Kirkman and Mark Lowe also saved the Texas bullpen on a night that was set up for disaster by Grimm’s short start. Kirkman allowed two runs in five innings and Lowe pitched a season high three innings as Texas needed just three pitchers in the game.