ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Jacob deGrom had a rough debut for the Texas Rangers.
The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches Thursday and finished with seven strikeouts.
But while he hit a lot, as he did during nine remarkable seasons with the New York Mets, the right-hander gave up five runs and six extra-base hits in 3 2/3 innings against the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies in the season opener.
The Rangers’ prized addition — deGrom signed a five-year, $185 million contract as a free agent in December — still avoided the loss in his first start with his new team. The Texans’ bats bailed him out after he exited, striking out nine in the fourth against Aaron Nola and two Phillies relievers.
Nola also allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings in his sixth and possibly final opening day start for the Phillies. The 29-year-old right-hander is entering the final year of his contract, and talks about an extension have ended. He struck out four and walked two while throwing 48 of 72 pitches for strikes.
After deGrom threw seven of his 10 pitches for strikes in a 1-2-3 first inning that sent the crowd into a frenzy, the Phillies went ahead when Alec Bohm hit a two-run homer on a 99 mph fastball in the second inning.
Brandon Marsh and Trea Turner, Philadelphia’s $300 million additions on an 11-year free agent deal, had back-to-back triples in the third before JT Realmuto’s RBI double for a 4-0 lead.
Turner, hitting leadoff, started the game by fouling off a 99.6 mph fastball from DeGrom, then swung and missed on the next two pitches.
DeGrom threw 49 of his 73 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk a single batter. First-year Rangers manager Bruce Bochy previously said the plan was for DeGrom to throw about 65 pitches.
It was deGrom’s fourth career Opening Day start, and the first in which he allowed a run. He has thrown 17 scoreless innings with 25 strikeouts in his three starts for the Mets, the last two years ago against the Phillies.
The nine runs in the fourth tied the most in a single inning on the opening day for the Rangers, who were playing their 52nd opener in Texas. Jonah Heim had a two-run double before Texas freshman Robbie Grossman followed with a three-run homer against Nola to tie the game at 5.
While deGrom now plays in the American League, his first opponent was familiar, having started 20 previous games against the Phillies. He entered 9-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 120 innings against them.
The Rangers were very cautious with deGrom after he reported a strained left side just before the team’s first official spring training game on Feb. 15. He struck out 10 over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his only two exhibition games in Arizona, which came after pitching practice and in a minor league game.
DeGrom didn’t make his first big league start until Aug. 2 last year, and was 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 regular-season games before winning the wild-card game for the Mets. He had a career-low 1.08 ERA in 92 innings in 2021 before missing the last three months with right forearm tightness and an elbow sprain, then was shut down late in spring training last year with a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade.
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