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Rangers’ Jon Gray out to give bullpen a rest vs. Mariners

Sportsnaut
Apr 8, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Jon Gray (22) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre . Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it’s fitting the Texas Rangers had a day off on Monday — the deadline for filing taxes.

Because the Rangers’ bullpen has been overtaxed so far this season.

Right-hander Jon Gray (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will try to give the Rangers’ beleaguered relievers a break when he takes the mound Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series in Seattle.

In losing three in a row to the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers allowed 24 runs.

Starter Spencer Howard went on the injured list Friday, forcing the Rangers to deploy relievers for all nine innings of a 9-6 defeat that day. Neither Taylor Hearn nor Marin Perez went more than four innings in 7-2 and 8-3 losses over the weekend.

The Rangers starters have an ERA of 6.96 through the first nine games.

“We need somebody (in the rotation) to step up in a lot of ways,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We’re not playing well enough to win games right now. …

“We need a few good starts in a row. … We’ve got arms. They’re just getting taxed because we’re having to basically go to a bullpen day every day. That’s not fair to those guys.”

Gray, signed as a free agent in the offseason after seven seasons in Colorado, started on Opening Day in Toronto.

He retired the side in order in the first three innings but ran into trouble in his fourth and final inning, giving up three runs.

Gray was placed on the 10-day injured list after that game because of a blister on his right middle finger and is scheduled to make his return against the Mariners, against whom he is 1-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two career starts.

Seattle will start its own free-agent signee in left-hander Robbie Ray (1-1, 4.73). Ray is 3-1 with a 4.24 ERA in six career starts against Texas.

Ray, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner with Toronto, triumphed in his Opening Day start, limiting host Minnesota to one run on three hits in seven innings.

He took the loss last Wednesday at Chicago, giving up six runs in 6 1/3 innings to the White Sox in a game delayed by rain. Four of those runs came in the second inning during a downpour.

“It was a little muddy. It wasn’t the greatest conditions,” Ray said. “But we’re professionals and I’m not wanting to make excuses.

“After that second inning, I told myself, ‘Get as deep as you can into this ballgame and just don’t crush the bullpen.”

The Mariners pulled within a run before losing 6-4.

“Robbie really competed his tail off,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He really settled down to give us a chance to get back into the game.”

The Mariners returned home to take two of three games from Houston over the weekend. They won 7-2 Sunday as Ty France hit a three-run homer.

The Mariners will be without outfielder Mitch Haniger, who leads the team with three home runs. He was placed on the COVID-19 list Saturday after testing positive.

–Field Level Media