Rangers bail out Jacob deGrom’s bumpy debut in opening day win vs. Phillies

Tribune Content Agency

ARLINGTON, Texas — Just in case anybody forgot: The Rangers have some bats, too.

While the story of the spring was an overhauled, restructured starting rotation, headed by Jacob deGrom, it was the lineup that bailed out the ace in Thursday’s season-opening 11-7 win over Philadelphia.

After deGrom fell into a five-run deficit, the lineup scored nine runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Jonah Heim got the Rangers on the board with a two-run double and Robbie Grossman, signed only after spring training had started, hit a game-tying three run homer. The go-ahead run scored on a swinging-bunt single by Nathaniel Lowe.

It was a dramatic change for the Rangers, who had blown leads of five and seven runs in their last two season openers against Kansas City and Toronto.

In his first start as a Ranger, deGrom struck out Phillies All-Star Trea Turner to start the season in a crisp 10-pitch first inning. He finished the inning with a 101-mph fastball past J.T. Realmuto. The other thing you could say about deGrom’s debut: He didn’t allow a single.

So much for the highlights. DeGrom didn’t make it through the fourth. He allowed six hits — all for extra bases — and five runs in 3 2/3 innings. The runs scored against deGrom were the first he’s allowed in four opening day starts. He began the day with a 17-inning scoreless streak on opening day.

A second-inning double by Nick Castellanos was followed by a two-out homer to right center by Alec Bohm. In the third, he allowed back-to-back triples to No. 9 hitter Brandon Marsh and Turner. Turner then scored on a wild pitch. DeGrom piled up 50 pitches over the second and third innings but went back out for the fourth. He struck out Bryson Stott to start the inning, then allowed another double to Bohm. Reliever Cole Ragans replaced him and allowed a run-scoring double to Marsh.

Alas, deGrom emerged still unbeaten on opening day. The Rangers countered with five runs in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run double by Heim and a three-run homer by Grossman to tie the score.

At 1-0, it’s the first time the Rangers have spent a night above .500 since Aug. 15, 2020.