Philadelphia Phillies at Texas Rangers
- Philadelphia finished 73-89 in 2013, below .500 for the first time since 2002 (80-81). After a 48-48 first half, the Phillies went 25-41 after the All-Star break, the second-worst mark in the NL (Cubs, 24-45). The 25 wins after the break were the club's fewest in a non-strike-shortened season since 1973 (25).
- Texas has won at least 90 games in each of the last four seasons, tied with Tampa Bay for the longest active streak in MLB. Last season was only the second time in franchise history that the Rangers won at least 90 games and did not make the playoffs (1977, 94 wins).
- Cliff Lee (3.88 K/BB) is one of four pitchers since 1900 to toss 2000+ innings and have a career strikeout-to-walk ratio over 3.80, along with Curt Schilling (4.38), Pedro Martinez (4.15) and Dan Haren (4.08).
- Tanner Scheppers is scheduled to become the first pitcher in MLB history to make his first career start on Opening Day after making 100+ relief appearances in his career. The last pitcher to make his first career start on Opening Day was Fernando Valenzuela for the Dodgers in 1981, and the last AL pitcher to do so was Jim Bagby Jr. for the Red Sox in 1938.
- In 433 career at-bats before 2013, Domonic Brown hit 12 home runs. Brown went on to hit 27 homers in 2013, including 12 in May, becoming the first player in the last 100 years to hit 10+ home runs and walk zero times in a month.
- Adrian Beltre has hit at least 20 doubles in 15 straight seasons, the longest active streak in baseball. He is also the only player in MLB with 30 doubles and 30 home runs in each of the last three seasons.
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By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Injuries have caused the Texas Rangers to get a bit creative with their rotation to open the season, and to an extent the same can be said of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Robbie Ross becomes the latest Rangers pitcher to make his first career start as he opposes Kyle Kendrick in Wednesday's series finale in Texas.
With Yu Darvish on the disabled list because of a stiff neck, manager Ron Washington has tried to maneuver his way through the first few games behind pitchers who have little or no experience starting in the majors.
Tanner Scheppers made his major league debut as Texas' opening-day starter and was shelled in Monday's 14-10 loss. Martin Perez, who had started 26 games in the big leagues, pitched 5 2-3 solid innings Tuesday before the Rangers won 3-2 on Adrian Beltre's RBI single in the ninth.
Darvish could join the rotation next week, and there's a chance Colby Lewis, who is on a minor-league contract while recovering from hip flexor surgery in 2012, also could be in the team's plans soon if healthy.
Ross enters his first career start after going 10-2 with a 2.62 ERA in 123 relief appearances over the last two seasons for the Rangers, but he earned his spot in the rotation with a solid spring.
The left-hander struck out eight in seven scoreless innings against Cleveland on March 25 in his last exhibition outing and had a 1.27 ERA over 20 1-3 innings during spring training.
"I just tried to go out and do the best I could," Ross told the team's official website. "It ended up pretty good. I had a bunch of guys making plays behind me."
Kendrick, a Houston native who was 10-13 with a 4.70 ERA in 2013, has been inserted as Philadelphia's No. 3 starter in the wake of Roy Halladay's retirement and Cole Hamels' shoulder tendinitis, an ailment that will keep him out for the time being.
Pitching at the end of the rotation last season, Kendrick didn't exactly have his best stuff. He was 0-5 with a 5.97 ERA over his final seven starts before ending up on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, though he enters his season debut on a positive note after tossing five scoreless innings Friday against Pittsburgh in his last tuneup.
The right-hander has never faced the Rangers, who got two hits apiece from Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo on Tuesday. Beltre drove in two runs and is 4 for 8 with two doubles over the first two games.
"It was nice to get that win coming from behind and now (having) the chance to win the series," Beltre said.
Washington won his first replay challenge in the sixth inning on a disputed pickoff call that may have saved a crucial run. Replays showed Donnie Murphy tagged Ben Revere before he got back to second base.
"From my vantage point, I thought he had him, really," Washington said.
Former Ranger Marlon Byrd went 2 for 3 after homering in Monday's opener, and Ryan Howard had an RBI double for the Phillies. Revere went 0 for 3 after having three hits and three RBIs in the opener, though manager Ryne Sandberg likes what he sees from Revere.
"Really setting a good tone in that leadoff spot," Sandberg told the team's official website.
Beltre has two doubles in four career at-bats off Kendrick, while Prince Fielder is 3 for 5 with a homer against the Phillies starter.
Updated April 2, 2014