ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tanner Scheppers was given every opportunity to shrug off one bad inning and focus on the other six.
He's talked about wanting to give his team seven innings, and he did that on Saturday, albeit after five runs came home in the fourth inning. So was there at least something encouraging about the fact that he stayed in and gave his team seven innings? A step forward, perhaps?
"No," Scheppers said. "When the offense does everything right -- they scored first -- I have to be able to lock it down."
How about how he pitched in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, throwing 29 pitches and retiring nine of the 10 he faced?
"I still go back to the fourth inning," Scheppers said. "I have to do a better job there."
Is this part of the education process in going from the bullpen to the rotation?
"No," Scheppers said. "I think it's about executing pitches."
To his credit, Scheppers wasn't having any of it. The bottom line is that the fourth inning was the story of his start, and he turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-2 deficit. While the Rangers ended up catching up with a Michael Choice homer in the ninth, they lost the game in 10 innings. It left Scheppers disappointed that he couldn't finish that fourth inning.
Four of the five runs that Scheppers gave up were with two outs. In fact, finishing innings has been an issue all April for him. Of his 14 runs allowed, 12 have come with two outs. The three-run home run by Robbie Grossman capped the inning, but a walk to Jason Castro with one out set the inning in a direction that didn't help Scheppers.
"I think they took advantage," Scheppers said.
They did. Scheppers didn't make any excuses on Saturday. He had some positives -- the first three and final three innings and his velocity, which was up in the mid 90s for the first time this season -- but the negative of the fourth was his focus after the game. His goal is to stop is from happening again.
"I've got to avoid the crooked numbers," Scheppers said.