Courtesy of RangerRap.com
Posted on September 19, 2013
BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Rangers lost to Tampa Bay 4-3 in extra innings Wednesday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. It was a game Texas could easily have won in nine innings, should have won in 11 and did lose in 12. The loss dropped the Rangers into second place in the Wild Card standings, one game behind the Rays and one-half game ahead of Cleveland.
The score was tied at two after nine innings, and all four runs scored after makeable fielding plays weren’t made. Texas’ Leonys Martin tripled home both Ranger runs in the second inning on a line shot to center field. It was a well hit ball, but catchable. However, Rays’ center fielder Desmond Jennings initially broke in for the ball, and then was unable to catch up to it as it flew over his head.
The 2-0 Ranger lead held up until the sixth inning. Delmon Young grounded to short with one out and a runner on first base. It should have been an inning ending double play, but Jurickson Profar’s relay throw to first pulled Mitch Moreland off the bag. Young was safe and the inning continued. Sean Rodriguez then tied the game with a home run to left field.
Derek Holland was the Ranger starter, and he pitched well. He had pitched poorly for three consecutive starts, so his performance was welcome. He completed six innings, allowing the two runs on six hits, striking out two and walking no one. It was a performance good enough to win most nights, but not on this night with the struggling Ranger offense. The bottom line though is that Holland has not won in his last eight starts and has won just once since the All-Star break.
The Rangers finally pierced the scoreboard again in the 11th inning. Elvis Andrus reached base when he was hit by a pitch. With two outs and a 3-2 count on Adrian Beltre, Andrus was running on the pitch, which Beltre lined a single into right center field. Andrus ran hard all the way, and when Wil Myers made the return throw to second base, third base coach waived Andrus around third and Andrus scored.
The Rangers looked poised to win after the score. Closer Joe Nathan was well rested after sitting out the recent seven game losing streak in which the Rangers never held a lead, much less presented a save situation. He was on to pitch the bottom of the 11th in search of his 40th save. The first two batters were retired easily, Evan Longoria on a pop to second base and Myers on a swinging third strike. However, Nathan walked Matt Joyce, missing the plate badly with three of the four balls. Speedster and former Ranger Freddy Guzman ran for Joyce and promptly stole second base. It was a daring play, as if he is out the game is over. He was safe though and scored easily to tie the game when David DeJesus singled to center field. It was just the third blown save this season for Nathan.
Texas had a good chance to score in the twelfth when Jeff Baker led off with a double. After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, Martin batted with runners on second and third. The opportunity quickly vanished though as he lined softly to short, and Ian Kinsler struck out to end the inning.
That set the stage for Tampa’s walk-off win in the bottom of the twelfth. Ranger manager Ron Washington had already used five relievers at that point, including the ones that are the winning parts of the bullpen. He chose Joseph Ortiz over Neftali Feliz and the struggling Robbie Ross. It was tantamount to waiving the white flag. The only out Ortiz recorded was the one the Rays gave Texas on a sacrifice bunt after Jose Lobaton’s lead off single. Jennings followed that sacrifice with an RBI single to end the game.
It was certainly a disappointing, if not crushing defeat for Texas. A win coupled with Tuesday’s 7-1 victory would give the feel of a change in the Rangers’ fortunes; the feel of a team making a playoff push at season’s end. Instead, the loss makes Tuesday’s win look like a blip on the radar screen in a season ending slide. Texas has now lost 14 of their last 18 games to fall from first place with a 2.5 game lead over Oakland to the edge of mathematical elimination in the West with a 6.5 game deficit and a scramble with five other teams for one of the two Wild Card berths.
Earlier in the day, Oakland lost to Los Angeles, so the Rangers would have picked up a game on the A’s with a win to keep their faint hopes of winning the West alive. Instead, Oakland’s magic number dropped to five. (Any combination of Athletics’ wins and Rangers’ losses totaling five clinches the pennant for Oakland.)
As for the Wild Card, Tampa Bay took over the top spot in the standings, one game ahead of Texas. Cleveland also lost to stay one-half game behind the Rangers. Baltimore won, so the Orioles trail Texas by one game. Kansas City and New York are still alive at 2.5 games back.
The series concludes Thursday night With Yu Darvish (12-9) going against Matt Moore (15-3). The Rays and Rangers entered this series tied for the top two Wild Card slots, and if the Rangers win Thursday, they will again be tied. In the event these two teams end up in a tie for the top two spots, the home field for the one-game playoff between the Wild Card teams will go to the winner of Thursday’s game, as it will determine the winner of the season series between Tampa and Texas.