As bullpen looks go, the Round Rock Express offered quite the contrast Wednesday night.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, the 5-10, 165-pound, finesse-tossing grizzled vet, made his second rehab appearance and was followed by a 6-2, 225-pound, hard-throwing prospect pitcher who’s worked only a handful of innings above Double-A.
Lincecum was tagged for a solo home run, and Ricky Rodriguez handled the eighth inning without allowing a run in Round Rock’s improbable 5-4 comeback win over New Orleans.
Trailing 4-2 with the bases loaded and two outs in the last of the ninth, Hanser Alberto, previously 0 for 3 on the night, hammered a three-run double to the power alley in left-center field to walk it off for the Express.
It was a badly needed win for a 12-22 club that had dropped four in a row at Dell Diamond.
Until Alberto’s heroics, the most interesting moments were watching the two rehabbing relievers who are on the Texas Rangers’ 60-day disabled list.
Lincecum, who hadn’t been in a game in 20 months before Monday night, is building up arm strength. Rodriguez has been recovering from right bicep tendinitis.
Lincecum, 33, entered to a big round of applause but was greeted by left fielder Austin Dean’s shot over the left-field fence on an 85-mph slider. He settled down after that, escaping the inning on just 13 pitches, 10 strikes, allowing two hits, a run and striking out a batter. Lincecum was tagged for two runs in his debut inning Monday.
The three-time World Series winner with the Giants once again pitched in the 82-90-mph zone.
Rodriguez, a 25-year-old Venezuelan, went 94, 94, 95-mph on his first three offerings and mixed in an 86-87-mph slider. He looked sharp, allowing a harmless single with one strikeout.
Rodriguez is one of Texas’ more promising arms. He posted a ridiculous 1.34 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 47 innings of High-A and Double-A ball last year before getting a late-season call-up by the Rangers.
Lincecum, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Texas, is expected to be with Round Rock until close to Memorial Day. His next outing will be Friday night at Dell.
Rodriguez will get the next few days off then is likely to pitch on back-to-back days before determining the next step in his recovery.
Second baseman Rougned Odor, a third Rangers rehabber in the Rock, went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. He is 1 for 7 in his first two games. Odor might rejoin the Rangers in Houston this weekend.