ARLINGTON, Texas -- The pitfalls of having youth on the mound bit the Rangers in Tuesday night's 9-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
This time, it was rookie right-hander Justin Grimm, who couldn't get out of the fifth inning after allowing his third home run, a three-run shot by Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales that gave Seattle a 6-1 lead.
Grimm put the Rangers behind 2-0 in the top of the first by giving up two-out solo home runs to Raul Ibanez and Morales.
The Rangers start July in a dead heat with the Oakland Athletics in the American League West not knowing what two-fifths of the rotation is going to give them on a start-by-start basis. Grimm had won two straight games entering Tuesday despite lasting five innings in each outing.
Nick Tepesch, another of the Rangers' rookie starters, lasted only four innings in his recent start against Cincinnati. The Rangers have another rookie, Martin Perez, who has been brilliant in his past two starts but is 22 and could fall victim to the same things that are getting Grimm and Tepesch.
Not executing pitches and just plain old inconsistency. The Rangers are forced to live with this until rehabbing pitchers Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis make it back, hopefully after the All-Star break.
"When you're talking about youth, especially on the mound, you're going to get a lot of inconsistency," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And that's what you get. Inconsistency. They've shown that they're capable of pitching up here. They just have to get past the inconsistency. Tonight, he made some mistakes with some balls he left up. The guys in the middle of the order didn't miss."
Grimm looked like he might get out of the top of the first unscathed after getting two quick outs and making a quality 2-1 pitch to Ibanez. Grimm located his changeup where he wanted it -- down -- but Ibanez, who has been on a home run tear, got it. Morales then hit a 1-1 fastball over the right-field fence for a 2-0 lead.
"That was the best changeup I threw all night," Grimm said.
Grimm made his final mistake of the night in the top of the fifth. After a single and an error by second baseman Ian Kinsler to start the inning, Grimm threw a first-pitch changeup to Morales and left it up in the strike zone. Morales, a veteran hitter, didn't miss it, giving Seattle a 6-1 lead.
"I didn't execute my pitch there," Grimm said. "I'm learning to execute. I have to get outs and win ballgames."
The Rangers didn't produce enough offense to bail Grimm out. They left seven runners on base in the first four innings.
The middle of their lineup didn't come up with clutch hits like Seattle's did. The Rangers had the tying and go-ahead runs on base with no outs trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the third, and their 3-4-5 hitters didn't hit the ball out of the infield.
"It's difficult, from an offensive standpoint, when you're behind early in the game and playing catch-up," left fielder David Murphy said. "We got to where we were playing station-to-station baseball."
The Rangers are in that position because they've gone 38 innings without a home run. The power has gone out since Jurickson Profar's fifth-inning home run Thursday afternoon in New York against the Yankees. The Rangers didn't have a home run in their weekend series against Cincinnati, the first time that's happened in a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark since 2009.
The Rangers have still won four of their past six games when they haven't hit a home run, but they dropped to 2-9 at home when they don't hit a long ball.
"You like to hit home runs if there's someone on the bags so you can score more than one run," Washington said. "But I don't think we're concerned about hitting it out of the ballpark. We can put up runs by getting base hits and putting runners out there."