ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola didn’t have the kind of pitcher duel many expected when they faced each other in the season opener.
Robbie Grossman and Brad Miller made a big comeback for Texas after valuable acquisition deGrom struggled on his debut, and Rangers beat Nola and National League champions Philadelphia Phillies 11-7 on Thursday.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to face (deGrom) anymore,” Grossman said, adding that the pitcher will be picking up plenty on the team this season. “All I can say is baseball is back and the roller coaster of emotions in the season.”
Grossman, a free-agent addition who earned the starting left field job in spring practice, hit a three-run homer that ended the game 5-5 in the middle of a nine-run breakout in the fourth inning. An inning later, Miller became the first Rangers player in 11 years to hit a homer in consecutive season openers. His shot from two runs made it 11:6.
While deGrom went on seven without a walk, the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner allowed five runs with six extra base hits in his 3 2/3 innings. He threw 49 out of 73 pitches for strikes. DeGrom signed a five-year, $185 million contract in free agency and started on opening day for the fourth time of his career – throwing 17 scoreless innings in his three opener games for the New York Mets, his team’s last nine seasons.
Nola, the 29-year-old right-hander who made his sixth and perhaps final opening-day start for the Phillies, also conceded five runs to four hits in 3 2/3 innings — not conceding a hit in the first three. Nola is in his final year of contract and talks 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 places.”
The game also marked the Rangers debut of Bruce Bochy, the three-time World Series champion, who returned to the coaching bench after three years of retirement for his 26th opener as manager. He previously played 13 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, who won the Texas title in 2010, and 12 seasons with the San Diego Padres.
“After a rough start, it’s a great way to end it,” Bochy said of the nine-run fourth run, which equaled the all-time highest-scoring inning of a season opener for Texas.
The Phillies, who made it to their first World Series since 2009 last season, took a 5-0 lead when No. 9 hitter Brandon Marsh, the first hitter after deGrom’s departure, hit an RBI double against Cole Ragans (1-0) had.
Ragans picked up his first major league win, although he also gave up a walk while facing just three batsmen.
Alec Bohm hit a two-run homer on a 99 mph fastball by deGrom in the second inning. Marsh and Trea Turner had back-to-back triples in the third in his first game with the Phillies after signing an 11-year, $300 million deal in free agency before JT Realmuto had an RBI double.
Grossman’s homer came right after a two-run double by Jonah Heim. Rangers took a 6-5 lead when bases loaded Nathaniel Lowe hit a pre-plate dribbler that converted into an RBI single-off relief Gregory Soto (0-1).
OPEN AND CLOSED
The retractable roof was opened to start the game but was closed during the fourth inning due to possible thunderstorms in the area. It was the first time at Globe Life Field, which is in its fourth season as Rangers’ home stadium, that the roof was closed during a game. It was cloudy and 69 degrees in the first climb.
QUITE A HANDLE
Rangers CF Bubba Thompson, who came on as a pitch hitter in the fifth, took a homer away from Jake Cave with a jumping catch in the eighth.
NO WATCH VIOLATIONS
There were no clock violations, although there was an odd sequence in the third inning when plate umpire Jeff Nelson appeared ready to add an automatic ball before a previous pitch catcher was found to have hit Heim’s shin guard and the PitchCom he was using device had shattered. The count stayed 2-2 with Kyle Schwarber, who slammed in the next seat.
The second game of the series on Saturday is a 2021 All-Star Pitchers matchup. RHP Nathan Eovaldi is making his Rangers debut after signing as a free agent. RHP Zach Wheeler is 30-19 with a 2.82 ERA in his 69 starts over the past three seasons since joining the Phillies.
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