The Texas Rangers got a glimpse of what they hope to see over the final two months of the season from Nick Tepesch during Saturday's 5-1 loss to Oakland.
Jul 26, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Tepesch (23) talks with catcher Robinson Chirinos (61) in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports
By Anthony AndroFOX Sports Southwest
ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers got a glimpse of what they hope to see over the final two months of the season from Nick Tepesch.
Of course because this is the 2014 Rangers, they got a glimpse of what they've seen since the season started too in the 5-1 loss to Oakland.
A promising start for Tepesch that included five innings of one-hit ball unraveled in the sixth and then completely crashed in the seventh when Tepesch left three pitches in with left knee soreness.
Tepesch felt the pain when his leg landed following this 73rd and final pitch.
"I just felt a little discomfort in my knee," Tepesch said. "It just kind of got me on the last pitch I threw. When my front leg landed I just kind of felt it in there a little bit. I don't want to continue pitching if it's going to affect how I'm pitching and affect the rest of the guys in the room."
Tepesch was as dominant early as he's been in his career, allowing just a Brandon Moss single through five innings and throwing just 51 pitches. But a one-out double by the light hitting Eric Sogard started trouble for Tepesch in the sixth with Texas nursing a 1-0 lead.
He retired Coco Crisp for the second out. But the third one wouldn't come until John Jaso had slapped a two-run homer to give Oakland a 2-1 lead and Yoenis Cespedes followed with a solo homer to push the lead out to 3-0.
In a season that's become more about finding out what the Rangers have than about wins, getting the third out for young pitchers in crucial situations is huge.
"He was in command all night and they powered the ball out of the ballpark on us tonight," Washington said. "He's made tremendous progress but when you've got a chance to finish an inning, that's a learning process right there. You've to be able to finish that inning (the sixth). He got to the point where he got two outs. He just needed to get one more and that's what he has to learn how to do. If he keeps pitching like he did today, he'll be fine."
Still Tepesch was good enough to keep the Rangers in the game against Oakland ace Sonny Gray.
"It was really good up until that homer," Tepesch said of the start. "I just made a bad pitch with the changeup (to Jaso). There's not much I can do about that. You're job as a starter is to pitch as deep in a game as you can."
Now they just have to hope that on the same night Texas became just the sixth team since 1901 to use at least 32 pitchers in a season they don't lose Tepesch for an extended period of time. Tepesch said he's never had knee pain before. He'll be re-evaluated by team doctor Keith Meister Sunday.
While Oakland was able to deliver the big hits against Tepesch and Nate Adcock, who became pitcher No. 32 for Texas and allowed two homers, the Rangers never did against Gray.
Texas got to Gray for a run in the fourth on an RBI single from J.P. Arencibia but that was it. The Rangers left eight runners on base and had just one hit with a runner in scoring position, that coming on the Arencibia single.
"You've got to be able to put yourself in situations to get hits and stuff like that," said Jim Adduci, who had two of the seven Texas hits. "That's part of the game. You just kind of look forward tomorrow and get ready to go."
The Rangers have to hope that Tepesch is ready to go the next time through the rotation.