In some parallel universe in which the Phillies’ pitching staff was as battered as the Rangers’ staff, Tuesday’s matchup between Martin Perez and A.J. Burnett would be a logical Opening Day bout.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Opening Day already happened and it was a four-run loss that left three Rangers’ pitchers with ERAs over 13.00.
But Day Two is a new day, and the players aren’t going to sweat it.
“It’s just another loss. That’s part of the game,” outfielder Alex Rios said. “We’re going to lose some games. Yesterday’s game was tough, having the lead, we just couldn’t hold it.”
Rios was the one to give them that lead with a three-run home run that sailed into the Philly bullpen. The right fielder’s first home run of the season counted for three of the eight runs surrendered by Philadelphia starter Cliff Lee.
The resulting 7-6 lead vanished the next inning, and the Phillies would control the game from that point forward. It’s easy to forget that the Ranger bats churned out 10 runs on Monday and focus on the struggles of Scheppers and the Texas bullpen, but if you ask Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia, those struggles were just a fluke.
“It was just one of those days,” Arencibia said. “We’re not going to give up 14 runs every game, I guarantee that. Cliff Lee’s not going to give up eight runs every start, and [the Phillies] aren’t concerned about Cliff Lee… I’m not concerned about Tanner Scheppers. You can’t look too much into it.”
So the 14-10 loss is in the rearview mirror, and there’s a clean slate for Tuesday’s game. Think of it as taking a mulligan on that whole “season opener” idea. It will be Perez vs. Burnett, without the fanfare of Opening Day.
“Emotions are high [on Opening Day], pitches are elevated for that reason, because there’s more adrenaline,” Arencibia said.
“There are too many variables [on Opening Day] that can go against our performance,” Rios said. “We obviously need to throw more strikes but I don’t see anything that we have to worry about.”
Five Texas pitchers actually combined to throw 60 percent strikes on Monday, but they issued six walks to Philly batters.
Perez, who many thought would be the Opening Day starter in the absence of Yu Darvish, will be on the bump to right the ship without all of those variables.
As Rios said, the Rangers are going to lose some games. Monday night was one of them. But rest assured, Ranger faithful -- they’ll also win some games. The team ERA will fall. Injuries will heal. It was the first Opening Day loss since 2008, but there's still a chance for Texas to win its opening series for the fourth straight year.
And the odds are, after a wild Opening Day, that there will be a greater sense of normality starting Tuesday night.
So there’s nothing to worry about just yet.
For more pregame notes from Tuesday, click HERE.