Rangers Lose Sweep In The Tenth In Kansas City
BY: Dic Humphrey
Texas had every chance to sweep Kansas City Sunday, but managed to lose with a win in their grasp. Kansas City won in the tenth inning, scoring the winning run without benefit of a hit. A lead-off walk followed by fielding errors on infield ground balls from the next two batters plated a run and made Texas a 7-6 loser on the day. It was a game filled with too many errors, questionable strategy, oodles of scoring opportunities the Rangers couldn’t cash in, and poor execution. It likely will have repercussions beyond the final outcome of the game.
Derek Holland started for the Rangers, and he continues to disappoint. He gave up six runs in six innings, all earned runs. Two of the eight hits he allowed left the ballpark. He’s now allowed 21 home runs in 17 starts. He threw 107 pitches, an average of about 18 per inning, and his ERA ballooned up to 5.18.
He got off the hook for the loss, when the Rangers tied the game at six in the seventh inning. Holland was followed to the mound by Roy Oswalt, who turned in two brilliant innings. He retired all six batters faced, four by strikeout. With a short bullpen that had Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and apparently Tanner Scheppers unavailable, Washington wanted Oswalt to throw another inning, but he refused.
Washington later told MLB.com’s T. R. Sullivan, “He said he couldn’t go any further. He said he had enough.”
Oswalt expressed his displeasure at being moved to the bullpen to beat writers earlier in the weekend. He sarcastically was quoted, “I mean we’re 4-2 in the games I started. I guess I should’ve been 6-0.” 4-2 is correct, but he was shelled last Monday in a 15-8 loss to the Angels, and his ERA was north of six. After the Rangers traded for Ryan Dempster on Tuesday, the decision was most likely between Feldman and Oswalt, with one staying in the rotation and the other to the bullpen. With Feldman being the hottest pitcher on the staff, there wasn’t much to decide. Oswalt’s best path back into the rotation was to keep his mouth shut and pitch well out of the bullpen. There could be more repercussions to this story in the next day or so.
Texas had a good chance to break the tie in the ninth. Mike Olt led off with a walk, and then moved into scoring position by stealing second base. The catcher’s throw went into center field, allowing Olt to advance to third. Washington then called the squeeze play with Elvis Andrus at the plate. The strategy will be debated, but Andrus failed to make contact, and Olt was out at home. A great scoring opportunity vanished.
Robbie Ross took the mound in the ninth instead of Oswalt, and held the Royals off the scoreboard to send the game into extra innings. Michael Kirkman curiously started the 10th. It was curious because the Royals batting order was bringing up a stretch of right-handed batters. The obvious pitching choice was Tanner Scheppers, which leads to the speculation that Scheppers was also unavailable Sunday. Kirkman pitched well enough to get three outs. After walking the leadoff batter, he induced a ground ball to short that looked like a double play. Alberto Gonzalez, who had subbed in for Andrus, booted the ball, getting no outs instead of two. Kirkman then got another double play ground ball to third base. Mike Olt in his first start at his natural position, caught the ball fine, but threw it into right field attempting to start the double play. BALL GAME!
The Rangers actually clinched the series win on Saturday. Scott Feldman, who has been the team’s best pitcher for weeks, turned in another fine outing, winning his sixth consecutive decision. He went 7.2 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. Texas won 4-2. Mike Adams recorded the final out of the eighth inning, and Alexi Ogando earned the save in the ninth, facing four batters, giving up two hits, and getting helped immensely from a double play.
Offensively, Mike Olt started his second Major League game. In his first plate appearance, he lifted a sacrifice fly to put the Rangers up 1-0. He later singled home another run. Josh Hamilton drove in the other two Ranger runs, running his total for the season to 90, the most in the Majors.
In the opener on Friday, Matt Harrison struggled early, but limited the first inning damage to a single run. He got it together and completed six and two-thirds innings to earn his 13th win, the first since the All-Star break. He gave up two runs on eight hits, lowering his ERA to 3.17.
Joe Nathan was unavailable after throwing 62 pitches on Wednesday and Thursday. Washington chose Ogando for the save opportunity, and Ogando did not disappoint. He tuned his fastball up a notch near the 100 mark. He put down the Royals on 16 pitches, striking out two. It was his second save of the year.
Offensively, the big blow came in the seventh inning from Mitch Moreland, a three run shot off left-hander Jose Mijares. Texas led 2-1 at the time, and Washington elected for Moreland to bat, rather that pinch hit a right-handed hitter. Moreland repaid Washington’s faith in spades.
The week certainly finished well for Texas after the terrible start of losing Monday and Tuesday to the Angels. However, it was still a downer to kick away Sunday’s finale in Kansas City. For one thing, the Athletics and Angels both lost, so the Rangers had the opportunity to extend their lead. As it was, they finished the week 5.5 games ahead of Oakland (six in the loss column) and six ahead of Los Angeles (seven in the loss column). It’s probably too early to start watching the “magic number”, but in case anyone is curious, the magic number is 50 over the Athletics and 49 over the Angels.
Texas now moves on to Boston for three games. This will be the third series this year against the Red Sox. Texas has won four of the five games previously played. The first two games start at 6:35 PM Central time, while Wednesday’s getaway game starts at 12:35 PM Central time. The pitching matchups for the series are:
Monday Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.38) vs. Aaron Cook (2-5, 5.24)
Tuesday Ryan Dempster (5-5, 2.82) vs. Jon Lester (5-9, 5.36)
Wednesday Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.17) vs. Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.54)
- Texas overall record in series is 21-11-2 after taking two of three in Kansas City.
- 63-44 is the Rangers’ second best record after 107 games, trailing the 1999 club that was 65-42.
- Elvis Andrus left Sunday’s game after batting in the ninth inning. He is said to have a strained shoulder, though he told the media after the game that it was not serious.