Texas Rangers starting pitcher Justin Grimm (51) walks off the mound in the second inning Tuesday night at Fenway Park in Boston. At right is catcher A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Mitch Moreland (18). (AP Photo)
BOSTON — Justin Grimm is accustomed to pitching with a lead.
The Texas Rangers’ rookie right-hander was hit so hard by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night, his teammates had little chance to try and give him one.
Grimm couldn’t make it through the second inning in his first start against Boston, getting tagged for a career-high eight runs in a 17-5 loss that snapped the Rangers’ five-game winning streak against the Red Sox.
“I didn’t give our team a chance from the get-go,” said Grimm, a Bristol, Va., native. “It’s tough to play a ballgame, as you can tell, when everybody’s just lackadaisical when you fall behind quick like that. Just seems to steamroll when stuff like that happens.
“I accept full responsibility for this loss.”
Grimm (5-4) came in leading the majors with an average of 8.03 runs of support per nine innings, a comfortable cushion provided by a potent lineup that’s backed him with seven or more runs four times already this season, including his last three starts — all wins.
It went sour swiftly against Boston, though.
“From the get-go, I had no fastball command at all. I was working behind hitters and leaving it up when it came across the plate,” Grimm said. “A tough lineup like that, you can’t work from behind. This is my loss. It’s not this team’s loss.”
After allowing two runs in the first inning, the 24-year-old yielded six more in the second, including a two-run homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a two-run triple by David Ortiz.
Five of the seven hits Grimm gave up went for extra bases, including a combined cycle by the Red Sox during their six-run second. He surrendered three walks with one strikeout in 1 2-3 innings, allowing his ERA to rise from 3.93 to 5.14.
“I think the Red Sox hitters affected him,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “You can’t leave all those pitches out in the middle of the plate, up in the zone, and that’s what they do with it.
“They came out today, they jumped on us early and they didn’t stop.”
It was an abundance of run support for Ryan Dempster (3-6), who ended a streak of five winless starts with his first victory in a month.