Rangers rally after deGrom struggles to beat Phillies
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola didn't have the kind of pitchers' duel that many had anticipated when they faced off in the season opener.
Robbie Grossman and Brad Miller homered in a big comeback for Texas after prized acquisition deGrom struggled in his debut, and the Rangers beat Nola and the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies 11-7 on Thursday.
“I'm just glad I don't have to face (deGrom) anymore,” said Grossman, adding that the pitcher will pick up the team plenty this season. “All I can say is baseball is back and the rollercoaster of emotions in the season.”
Grossman, a free-agent addition who earned the starting left field job in spring training, hit a three-run homer that tied the game at 5-5 in the middle of a nine-run outburst in the fourth inning. An inning later, Miller became the first Rangers player in 11 years to homer in consecutive season openers. His two-run shot made it 11-6.
While deGrom struck out seven without a walk, the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner allowed five runs on six extra-base hits in his 3 2/3 innings. He threw 49 of 73 pitches for strikes. DeGrom signed a $185 million, five-year contract in free agency and made his fourth career start on opening day — he threw 17 scoreless innings in his three openers for the New York Mets, his team the last nine seasons.
Nola, the 29-year-old right-hander making his sixth and maybe final opening-day start for the Phillies, also allowed five runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings — he didn't allow a hit the first three. Nola is in the final year of his contract and discussions about an extension ended just before the start of the season.
“The first inning took its toll on him, because it was a long inning, 21, 22 pitches,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Then got the ball up for the last inning, probably missed some locations.”
The game also marked the Rangers debut of Bruce Bochy, the three-time World Series champion who was back in the dugout after a three-year retirement for his 26th opener as a manager. He had previously managed 13 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, who clinched their 2010 title in Texas, and 12 seasons with the San Diego Padres.
“After a tough start, a great way to finish it,” Bochy said of the nine-run fourth that matched the highest-scoring inning ever in a season opener for Texas.
The Phillies, who last season made it to their first World Series since 2009, took a 5-0 lead when No. 9 hitter Brandon Marsh, the first batter after deGrom departed, had an RBI double off Cole Ragans (1-0).
Ragans got his first big league victory even while also giving up a walk while facing only three batters.
Alec Bohm hit a two-run homer in the second inning on a 99 mph fastball from deGrom. Marsh and Trea Turner, in his first game with the Phillies after signing a $300 million, 11-year deal in free agency, had back-to-back triples in the third before J.T. Realmuto had an RBI double.
Grossman's homer came immediately after an two-run double by Jonah Heim. The Rangers went ahead 6-5 when, with the bases loaded, Nathaniel Lowe hit a dribbler in front of the plate that turned into an RBI single off reliever Gregory Soto (0-1).
OPEN AND CLOSED
The retractable roof was opened to start the game, but was closed during the fourth inning because of potential thunderstorms in the area. It was the first time at Globe Life Field, which is in its fourth season as the Rangers' home, that the roof was closed during a game. It was overcast and 69 degrees at first pitch.
QUITE A GRAB
Rangers CF Bubba Thompson, who entered the game as a pitch-hitter in the fifth, took a homer away from Jake Cave with a leaping catch in the eighth.
NO CLOCK VIOLATIONS
There were no clock violations, though there was a strange sequence in the third inning when plate umpire Jeff Nelson appeared ready to add an automatic ball before it was determined that a previous pitch had hit catcher Heim's shin guard and shattered the PitchCom device he was using. The count stayed 2-2 on Kyle Schwarber, who struck out on the next pitch.
The second game of the series Saturday is a matchup of 2021 All-Star pitchers. RHP Nathan Eovaldi makes his Rangers debut after signing as a free agent. RHP Zach Wheeler is 30-19 with a 2.82 ERA in his 69 starts the last three seasons since joining the Phillies.
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