When the Rangers and Phillies met on Thursday afternoon to kick off the 2023 MLB season, one of the most anticipated seasons in Texas Rangers history was underway.
Opening Day brings a newfound hope for every team, especially the 2023 Texas Rangers. The face of that new hope was Jacob deGrom, who was on the mound for Texas to open the season on Thursday.
Unfortunately for Ranger fans, deGrom’s Rangers debut did not go very well, as he gave up five earned runs in just 3.2 innings pitched. After the game, Bruce Bochy said “He probably wasn’t quite as sharp today, it’s fair to say that but he also had some bad luck”.
Things started perfectly for deGrom as he pitched a perfect first inning, striking out Trea Turner and JT Realmuto and forcing Kyle Schwarber to fly out to center. However, that perfection did not last into the second. Following a one-out double from Nick Castellanos, Phillies 3rd baseman Alec Bhom drove a 99 MPH fastball into the Rangers bullpen to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
Unforntantuly for deGrom and the Rangers, the defending NL champs would continue their offensive success in the 3rd inning. Back-to-back triples from Brandon Marsh and Trea Turner would put another run on the board to make it 3-0. With the very next better at the plate, Turner would score on a wild pitch to make it 4-0 Phillies in the 3rd.
Cole Ragans would come out to give up a run that was charged to deGrom and the Phillies would have a 5-0 lead after 4 innings. Jacob deGrom’s final line was 3.2 innings 6 hits 5 earned runs 0 walks and 7 strikeouts.
If I would have told you when the Rangers had no hits through three innings that Texas would lead 9-4 after the 4th, you would have called me crazy. However, that is exactly what happened.
Jonah Heim caught more than 100 games last season and was just gassed by the end of it. This year on Opening Day he would come up with the bases loaded and rip a double down the left field line to bring home two runs.
When Texas signed Robbie Grossman at the beginning of Spring Training, I don’t think that many people thought much of it. However, he would come up huge in the 4th with a three-run home run to tie the game at 5. After the game, Grossman said, “it’s a good group of guys we got and it’s gonna be a fun summer in Dallas”.
When the batting lineup got back to Nathaniel Lowe in the 3 hole the bases were once again loaded and he scored Josh Smith on a swinging bunt to give Texas a 6-5 lead! After Marcus Semien scored on a wild pitch and Adolis Garcia singled home two, the Rangers would have completed the comeback with a Texas-sized 9-run inning.
Overall, the Rangers’ pitching staff wasn’t great as they gave up 7 runs but they didn’t need to be because of the 11 spot put up by the offense. The back end of the Rangers bullpen however was brilliant. Jonathan Hereznadez pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th innings before Jose Leclerc came on to throw a scoreless 9th and lock this one down.
Just a few innings after the offensive explosion in the 4th, Brad Miller would come up in the 6th and shoot a line drive into the Rangers bullpen to make it 11-6 Rangers! With that two-run shot, Miller has now homered on Opening Day for the second consecutive year.
Much was made of how Bruce Bochy would line up things at the back end of his bullpen. Interestingly enough, after throwing a scoreless 7th Bruce Bochy sent Jonathan Hernandez back out for an 8th inning. That choice would pay off as Hernandez fired a scoreless to cap off his second scoreless frame of the day.
Jose Leclerc would come in to pitch the 9th inning for the Rangers as Texas was three outs away from their first Opening Day win since 2020. Leclerc would retire the side and the Rangers would collect their first win of the season.
The Rangers could not ask for a better start to their 2023 season as their offense powered them to a 1-0 start. Texas has the day off tomorrow before being back at it on Saturday against the Phillies at 3:05 PM CST on Fox.