‘It’s one of those days’: Rangers’ Yang Hyeon-jong shrugs off dismal start

May 26, 2021

 In the aftermath of the worst performance of his nascent big league career, Texas Rangers’ South Korean pitcher Yang Hyeon-jong was ready to file the game in the “Let’s Forget about It” folder.

Yang was charged with his season-worst seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in an 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday (local time).

Yang, now 0-2 in his first major league season, gave up five hits, including a leadoff home run by Justin Upton and a two-run blast by Jared Walsh. The left-hander also issued three free passes, giving him 11 in his past four outings covering 16 innings.

With the Rangers down 3-0, Yang pitched a clean bottom of the third, setting the stage for his offense to get a run back in the top of the fourth. But things unraveled quickly in the bottom of the inning, which went single-walk-wild pitch-single-single for Yang.

The Angels put up a six-spot in that inning, and four of those were charged to Yang, whose ERA went up from 3.38 to 5.47.

“I made a lot of mistakes. I tried to stay away from the middle of the plate and ended up throwing too many balls,” Yang said in his postgame Zoom session. “My pitches fell flat and didn’t have zip on them. I think my catcher Jose Trevino had a rough day behind the plate, and I feel bad about that.”

The 33-year-old left-hander, who spent 14 years in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) before signing with the Rangers in February, said he’ll lean on his past experience to pick himself up mentally after such a tough outing.

“It’s just one of those days, and I am not really worried,” Yang said. “I pitched in Korea for a long time, and I had days like this. Rather than getting too concerned, I’ll go back and watch the game, and try to pick up on things I need to improve on.”

The loss snapped the Rangers’ three-game winning streak. They swept the Houston Astros at home over the weekend and after having Monday off, came right back down to earth with the loss to the Angels.

“Personally, I can handle this loss, but I just feel sorry for my team that I couldn’t be of any help today,” Yang said. “I’ll be cheering hard for the guys (from the dugout).”