The Texas Rangers eye a sixth win in seven games on Tuesday when they continue a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark.
Texas was victorious in Monday's opener, as A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning and the Rangers edged the Rays, 5-4. Elvis Andrus drove in two runs and Adrian Beltre hit an RBI double to help the Rangers win for the fifth time in six tries since an Opening Night loss to Houston.
Alexi Ogando (2-0) gave up one run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Joe Nathan allowed one run in the ninth but still picked up his second save of the season and the 300th of his career, despite an awful third strike call on Ben Zobrist to end the game.
"That kind of call cannot occur. I don't even want to say under those circumstances," Tampa manager Joe Maddon said. "The last inning, the last out of the game. I'm not even going to go there. That call can't be made in a Major League Baseball game."
Nathan's last pitch, a curveball, was clearly low and outside. Zobrist put both hands on his helmet and took it off in disbelief while Tampa manager Joe Maddon quickly came out and argued with the umpires for several minutes, even standing in front of them at the gate where they exit the field.
"I saw the pitch and of course don't have the chance to do it again," home plate umpire Marty Foster told a pool reporter after the game. "But had I had a chance to do it again, I wouldn't call that pitch a strike."
Jeremy Hellickson (0-1) allowed three runs on five hits and three walks for the Rays, who were coming off a 13-0 loss against Cleveland on Sunday. Yunel Escobar, Shelley Duncan and Sean Rodriguez had an RBI apiece in the setback.
Heading to the hill for the Rangers on Tuesday will be righty Nick Tepesch, who will be making his major league debut. Tepesch won the fifth spot in Texas' rotation in spring training, but wasn't needed until Tuesday.
Tepesch was 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA in five spring games (3 starts). He started for Triple-A Round Rock last Thursday, Tepesch worked five innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits in the win.
"The best thing we can do is let him go on out there and figure it out for himself," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just trust what he's got. We trusted it, that's why he's here."
Tampa, meanwhile, will counter with Roberto Hernandez, who has lost his last five decisions against the Rangers and is just 2-8 lifetime against them with a 5.37 ERA in 12 starts.
Hernandez lost his initial outing to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, as he surrendered four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Rays took five of nine from the Rangers last year.