A.J. Alexy makes history in win vs. Angels, offers Rangers hope for the future
ANAHEIM, Calif. — This season will go down for all kinds of the wrong kinds of Texas Rangers history.
A.J. Alexy is adding a different chapter: The one that starts with hope.
On Monday, Alexy held Anaheim to a single hit in six scoreless innings of a 4-0 Rangers win. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because one-hit scoreless outings are all Alexy seems to know. He has made two MLB starts. In both he’s held the opponent scoreless on one hit. Nice work. Historic, too.
In doing so, Alexy became the first pitcher since the mound was moved to 60-feet, six inches in 1893 to start a career with consecutive outings of at least five scoreless innings and one hit allowed. Colorado managed a single hit against him last week in his debut.
A little random? Sure.
But it’s the Rangers. Pitching hasn’t exactly been their specialty. Alexy and Glenn Otto, both of whom were acquired via trades and made their debut in the last 10 days, are the tip of the spear offering hope that the future may be different.
The Rangers acquired Alexy, 23, in 2017 as part of the Yu Darvish trade. It was a big day in Darvish trade news. Willie Calhoun, who has missed the last two months with a broken bone in his arm, began a rehab assignment in the rookie level Arizona Complex League.
Otto, 25, also pitched five scoreless innings in his debut, then followed it up by allowing a pair of runs in 4 2/3 innings at Anaheim on Friday.
Both guys got their chance at the rotation due to the COVID-19 outbreak that swept through the Rangers’ rotation two weeks ago. They were ostensibly replacements to be sent back when Dane Dunning, Mike Foltynewicz and Spencer Howard once again tested negative. Howard is going to return to the roster on Tuesday, Dunning on Friday. Foltynewicz? Well, let’s put it this way: It doesn’t appear Alexy and Otto will be going anywhere.
In his first start, Alexy had battled some early command issues to settle down to get through five. On Monday, he was firmly in control from the start. He mixed his pitches a little bit more to keep the Angels off balance. Whereas he threw his fastball 52 times in 81 pitches against Colorado, he dropped the usage by about 10%. He used a sharp changeup, slider and even a curveball more evenly. It gives him 11 scoreless innings to start his career, the third longest streak by a Rangers starter behind Chi Chi Gonzalez (14 2/3 in 2015) and Scott Chiamparino (12 in 1990).
Alexy worked around a single and a walk to start the second inning by getting Brandon Marsh to ground into a double play, then walked Max Stassi. He was the last Angel to reach base against Alexy. He retired Luis Rengifo on a fly ball, starting a streak of 13 consecutive outs to finish off his night.
It included a pair of strikeouts of likely AL MVP Shohei Ohtani. He got Ohtani to swing over a changeup to end the third inning. He finished off his night striking out the side in the sixth, including an inning-ending called third strike against Ohtani on a fastball down and away. It was his seventh strikeout of the night.
This says a lot about how the Rangers’ year has gone: It was their first road shutout of the season and it gave them back-to-back road wins for the first time since early May.
Most of the season has been forgettable. A.J. Alexy is making the finish worth remembering.