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Apr 9, 2024 7:58 am

Rangers aim for bullpen consistency in matchup vs. A’s

Brock Burke

Bruce Bochy, manager of the World Series champion Texas Rangers, is looking for a consistent effort from his bullpen as his team prepares to host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series in Arlington, Texas, starting Tuesday night.

Left-handed reliever Brock Burke entered Monday night’s game against the Houston Astros in the fourth inning with two on and two out with left-handed sluggers Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker up next as the Rangers held a 5-4 lead.

Three batters later, Burke departed, having failed to record an out with the Astros leading 7-5 en route to a 10-5 victory Monday that earned Houston a split of the teams’ four-game series.

Texas starter Andrew Heaney was saddled with the loss, but the game pivoted when Burke allowed an RBI double to Alvarez and a two-run single to Tucker.

Burke is a key bullpen cog for Texas, his reliability against left-handed hitters crucial.

“He made some mistakes out there,” Bochy said. “Three consecutive hitters — he’s got to face three hitters.

“He’s looked really good. The last couple of outings he hasn’t hit his spots like he needs to. We’ve got to get him going. He’s a piece of this bullpen.”

Conversely, the Rangers received a strong relief effort from right-hander Jose Urena, who limited the Astros to one hit over four scoreless innings while notching four strikeouts. At this early stage of the season, bullpen roles are in flux, and standout efforts tend to draw attention.

“What a great job,” Bochy said of Urena. “Pounded the strike zone with all of his pitches. Terrific job.

“Pitched very efficiently, too. He’s been throwing the ball well.”

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.38 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Texas on Tuesday. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, allowing four hits and one walk while recording eight strikeouts in the Rangers’ 4-1 victory.

Eovaldi produced a quality start on Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts over six innings but did not factor into the decision of his team’s 4-3 extra-inning victory.

Eovaldi is 3-2 with a 2.86 ERA over 11 career starts against the Athletics, including allowing just one run to Oakland over his last 23 innings.

Left-hander Alex Wood (0-1, 9.72 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Athletics on Tuesday. He did not factor into the decision of his previous start, a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox last Tuesday, after allowing three runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over five innings. He is 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA over five career appearances (four starts) against the Rangers.

Oakland second baseman Zack Gelof delivered a monster effort in a 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. He finished 4-for-5 with a walk, four RBIs and three runs. Gelof produced a triple and a home run, his first of the season.

“He’s working in the right direction right now,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “Big day for him. Table setter as well as RBIs. It’s good to see.”

–Field Level Media

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