Two left-ended pitchers seeking a win while at the opposite end of the spectrum will be matched Tuesday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, as the Texas Rangers host the San Diego Padres to conclude a brief two-game series.
But the two teams will not be finished with one another. They both will travel to San Diego for two more meetings starting Wednesday night.
Adrian Morejon will make his 2020 debut for the Padres on Tuesday, opposed by veteran Mike Minor (0-3, 5.49 ERA) for the Rangers.
But the matchup to watch might be Minor against Fernando Tatis Jr. the first time the 21-year-old Padres shortstop comes to the plate.
Tatis drove in seven runs on two homers Monday night in the later innings of the Padres’ 14-4 win. But it was the second homer — Tatis’ first major league grand slam – and ensuing bat flip that didn’t please the Rangers. With the Padres already ahead 10-3, Tatis’ slam came on a 3-and-0 pitch from Juan Nicasio.
The Padres had the take sign on for Tatis. But he didn’t look over to see it. The Rangers took note. The next pitch after the slam sailed behind Manny Machado.
The Padres also took note. “We talked to Fernando about it,” said San Diego manager Jayce Tingler after the game.
Texas manager Chris Woodward said he “didn’t like it personally” when Tatis went after the 3-and-0 pitch.
“You’re up by seven in the eighth inning. It’s typically not a good time to swing 3-and-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But the norms are being challenged,” Woodward said.
Tatis leads the majors in homers (11) and RBIs (28), although he was batting in the lead-off slot until two games ago.
Morejon will join the Padres from their alternate camp Tuesday because Tingler wants to give his top two pitchers, Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet an extra day’s rest.
The 21-year-old Morejon is the Padres’ No. 7 prospect and No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect, behind MacKenzie Gore. The 5-foot-11, 224-pound Cuban was a member of the Padres heralded 2016 international signing class.
He made it to the Padres last season and had a 10.13 ERA in five major league appearances. He allowed nine runs on 15 hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in eight innings. Morejon has never faced the Rangers.
“We’ve been preparing Adrian to start,” said Tingler. “We’ve been stretching him out at the alternate camp.”
Meanwhile, the Rangers have been looking for the 32-year-old Minor to get on track.
“I’m healthy and ready to go,” said Minor.
After going 14-10 with a 3.59 ERA in 32 starts last season, Minor has given up 13 runs (12 earned) on 17 hits and eight walks with 19 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings in his first four starts of 2020.
“His track record doesn’t lie,” Woodward said of Minor, who has a 70-63 career record with a 3.93 ERA in 240 career appearances (174 starts).
Minor has a 2-3 career record against the Padres with a 4.06 ERA (17 runs allowed on 41 hits and eight walks against 27 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings). But in a pair of 2018 starts against the Padres, Minor went 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
Both teams are dealing with injuries to key players.
The Padres on Monday placed outfielder Tommy Pham (broken hook of the hamate bone in his left hand) and catcher Francisco Mejia (left thumb contusion) on the injured list and announced Pham and closer Kirby Yates (bone chips in the rear of his elbow) could miss the remainder of the season. Pham has already had surgery to remove the hamate bone.
Meanwhile, the Rangers’ Danny Santana returned to the lineup as the designated hitter after the infielder-outfielder missed time on the injured list due to a serious arm issue.
“It was in a precarious place,” Woodward said of Santana’s forearm strain. “It was risky. We didn’t want him to blow it out and miss more than a year.”
–Field Level Media