Tepesch gets a W but still struggles third time through

ARLINGTON, Texas – On the one hand, it was a great night for Rangers rookie pitcher Nick Tepesch. On the other hand, he still has a lot to work on.

Tepesch recorded a career-high nine strikeouts and got the win in a 10-5 win over the Astros. But he also failed to get an out in the sixth inning and once again struggled when facing a lineup for the third time in a game.

Batters are now hitting .465 when they face Tepesch a third time in a game. He allowed four runs in the sixth before being pulled after 98 pitchers.

But for a guy who had been winless in his last eight outings – the longest winless streak by a Ranger this season – it’s hard to complain after finally posting a W.

“It was a good night overall,” Tepesch said. “The guys gave me a lot of run support and I felt like it was a good night.”

Tepesch was handed a 2-0 lead after the first inning, a 6-0 lead after two and a 10-0 lead heading into the sixth. It was the first time the Rangers had scored in double digits since May 19.

“Any time you’re putting up runs like that, it makes my job a lot easier,” Tepesch said. “It gives me a little more freedom to attack hitters.”

Tepesch certainly wasn’t shy about going after hitters. He struck out the side in a 1-2-3 second inning and also rang up three K’s in the fourth.

“It was nice that he went out there and he had a good fastball working and was able to spot it down and away,” manager Ron Washington said. “He had a good changeup tonight, that’s something he’s certainly been working on. He had a good breaking ball, too.”

The wall Tepesch hit in the sixth inning started with a single by leadoff hitter Jose Altuve. Then came a walk to Brett Wallace, who had struck out in both of his previous at-bats.

Jason Castro singled to drive in a run, then Chris Carter doubled in two more and Tepesch was done. Carter had also struck out his first two times to face Tepesch.

Washington said Tepesch’s problems the third time through the order had nothing to do with any kind of mental block, at least in this instance.

“I think tonight he just ran out of gas,” Washington said. “He threw a lot of pitches after the fifth, and then in the sixth they started working him a little bit. To me, I just thought he ran out of gas because he quit getting extension. You know, the balls that he was driving through the strike zone he was all of a sudden, they were hitting the dirt.”

Tepesch said he wasn’t fatigued.

“I just didn’t make good pitches,” Tepesch said. “I didn’t feel tired.”

Whatever it was, Tepesch may be running out of opportunities to show he can go deep into games and keep the bullpen fresh. Alexi Ogando will make a rehab start Saturday at Triple-A Round Rock and will likely make one more before returning.

However, it never hurts a pitcher’s case to ring up nine strikeouts and a W.

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