SEATTLE -- The sinker sunk Nick Tepesch in his second major league start.
It wasn’t that the pitch didn’t work again. It was that he didn’t use it enough.
Where was the darting pitch that so baffled the Tampa Bay Rays last week, when the non-roster Texas Rangers invitee to spring training allowed four hits and one run in 7⅓ dazzling innings to win his major league debut?
It was mostly, mysteriously, in moth balls Sunday in the Rangers’ series finale against the Seattle Mariners.
“It was still good today,” Tepesch said. “I just didn’t throw it as much as I should have.”
That may be why he wasn’t able to make history.
The 24-year-old right-hander just missed becoming the first pitcher since Kevin Brown in 1988, and just the third in Rangers’ history, to win his first two major league starts.
He allowed four runs and nine hits in 5⅔ innings. With how Texas’ offense is struggling that meant a 4-3 loss and a split of the four-game series here.
Seattle’s most damaging hits against Tepesch were off his secondary pitches. Raul Ibanez homered on a high fastball five rows into the right-field bleachers leading off the bottom of the fourth to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. Struggling Dustin Ackley hit a 3-2 curveball in the pivotal sixth inning to single home Jesus Montero. That give the Mariners the 4-3 lead they never surrendered.
So instead of joining Brown and Glen Cook (1985) in team history, Tepesch takes a lesson into his third big league start, next weekend back home in Arlington against these same Mariners.
That start may have more sink to it.
“I just for some reason didn’t go to it as much as I should have,” Tepesch said of his No. 1 pitch. “Looking back on it -- not saying I am second guessing myself, at all -- but I should have gone to it more.”
Manager Ron Washington was pleased with his rookie starter.
“I thought he was pretty good again (Sunday),” Washington said. “Bottom line, he kept us in the game. We had a chance. We just couldn’t get a hit to make a difference.”
Rangers team notes:
Luery Garcia, who impressed Washington with heads up play batting and in the field in his first major league start Saturday at shortstop, hit his first big league triple off the top of the right-field wall in Sunday’s fifth inning. He then broke on contact for home on Elvis Andrus’ hard grounder to second baseman Ackley, who was playing in. Ackley threw him out trying to score the tying run. Garcia got a sacrifice bunt down to advance Mitch Moreland into scoring position in the seventh, before Andrus and Gentry struck out to keep Texas behind 4-3. ... Garcia started Sunday at second base for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler got his first day off of the season. … Washington said the next regular due for a complete day off is Andrus, who got a semi break Saturday when he was the designated hitter instead of shortstop. … Seattle was good to reliever Joe Ortiz. He got his first two major league wins here, Thursday and Saturday, and says that has given him new confidence. … Tuesday’s game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs will be Texas’ earliest interleague game by a month. The previous early date: May 16, 2008, against the Houston Astros. … The Rangers’ 3-1 win Saturday came without an extra-base hit, something they did just twice in all of 2012 and twice in 2011. ... This was only the sixth time in 33 series dating to the start of last season that the Rangers didn’t win a series after they won the first game.