BOSTON -- Although it didn’t go down in the books as a quality start, the Texas Rangers once again received solid pitching from a starter Monday night as the team fell back below .500 (3-4) with a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in front of a crowd of 35,842 at Fenway Park.
Scheppin’ up his game: Before starter Tanner Scheppers even threw a pitch Monday night, he received high praise from general manager Jon Daniels in regard to his potential as a member of the rotation.
“As good as he was in the bullpen last year, we think [his upside as a starter] outweighs even that,” Daniels said.
A serious statement considering that Scheppers went 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA as a reliever in 2013. A week after a disastrous Opening Day start that saw Scheppers allow seven runs on eight hits in four innings, the 27-year-old took a step forward Monday, lasting five innings and allowing only two runs on nine hits in his second career start.
Despite walking only one batter, Scheppers’ control still looked iffy as he threw 59 of his 91 pitches for strikes and continued to miss high with his fastball. Scheppers put at least two runners on in four of his five innings and was able to produce only nine swinging strikes on the night. A notable improvement, however, is that Scheppers went to a three-ball count only once, as opposed to seven times on Opening Day.
Lacking offense: The Rangers were shut down by Red Sox starter John Lackey, who pitched seven strong innings and prevented Texas from ever putting together a serious rally in a close game. Only five Rangers baserunners made it to second base against Lackey as the Texas native never faced more than five batters in an inning. With runners on second and third and two out in the seventh inning, catcher J.P. Arencibia grounded out to second to end the threat.
First baseman Prince Fielder, who entered the game with a 1.229 OPS at Fenway Park -- the highest total among batters with at least 50 at-bats at the park -- went 0-for-4, grounding into a double play in the eighth. Fielder also made a throwing error in the eighth inning, his second of the year and the Rangers' league-leading 10th.
To no avail: In the first inning, Ron Washington suffered his first instant-replay loss of the season as the manager argued whether shortstop Elvis Andrus maintained control of the ball during a play at second base in the bottom of the first. Andrus bobbled the ball during the transfer, resulting in umpire Jordan Baker calling Daniel Nava safe. After a 1-minute, 48-second delay, the call stood. The next batter, Mike Napoli, grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Washington is now 1-for-2 on challenges. Andrus was charged with an error, his third of the season.
Beltre birthday: On his 35th birthday, third baseman Adrian Beltre went 1-for-4 with a run scored out of the cleanup spot.
Up next: Martin Perez squares off against fellow southpaw Felix Doubront as the Rangers look to avoid their second consecutive series loss in the second game of three at Fenway. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. CT.