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Game thoughts: Rangers fall in 12 innings

4/21/2010

BOSTON -- Some quick thoughts after the Rangers' 8-7 loss in 12 innings to Boston. Kevin Youkilis hit a double to score the winning run.

* The Rangers lose for the sixth straight time. They had a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the second, but couldn't hold it. Then they came back with a three-run homer to tie it in the seventh, only to have Boston win in 12 innings.

* Dustin Nippert pitched well in the 11th, but struggled in the 12th. The Rangers decided to intentionally walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Kevin Youkilis and Youkilis came through with a double off the wall in center to win it.

* Josh Hamilton had a solid game. And he sure did need it. Sure, the home run was the big hit. He blasted one to straightaway center with Elvis Andrus and Julio Borbon on base to tie the score in the seventh inning. But Hamilton was having a good game before the homer.

He started with a patient first at-bat, walking with two outs. He also ran the bases hard, going from first to home on a long double by Vladimir Guerrero to give the Rangers an early lead. Give Dave Anderson some credit for not hesitating in sending Hamilton, who was safe easily. But that's the kind of run the Rangers want to score: patient at-bat, aggressive baserunning, timely hitting.

He also had a single in the second on a 1-2 pitch to drive in a run. And he started off the 10th inning with an opposite-field hit off Jonathan Papelbon.

* SS Elvis Andrus is getting the hang of this leadoff thing. First, he a walking machine. He has a team-high 11 walks. Andrus struck out in the first (seeing five pitches) and then made Josh Beckett work with a seven-pitch walk to put runners on the corners in the second. He then stole second to eliminate the double play with one out and scored on Hamilton's single. Andrus dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to get Borbon over to third in the fourth (he was called out on a close play at the plate) and walked again in the sixth.

* RHP Neftali Feliz threw some serious heat in the bottom of the ninth and 10th, consistently hitting 100 mph on the Fenway Park radar gun. He had three strikeouts in facing the minimum six batters. A few Boston writers were quite impressed.

* OF Julio Borbon had a very good game. He made a diving catch in center on the first batter for the Red Sox in the game (Marco Scutaro) and then tripled in his first at-bat, driving in the club's second run. His speed also meant that a fly ball hit to right field -- even one that might not be very deep -- scored him. He singled and stole a base in the fourth and got on base (via an error on the first baseman, but I think he probably would have been safe on an infield hit anyway...either way, Borbon's speed made the Red Sox rush things). He scored on Hamilton's homer.

* It was a controversial play at home plate in the fourth inning. Michael Young hit a fly ball to center and Borbon tagged and came home. He slid (maybe a little too soon) and was called out when home plate umpire Brian O'Nora ruled that he didn't tough the plate. The replay shows that Borbon may have barely touched it with his left hand. Borbon wasn't happy about it and Washington argued, but it was an inning-ending double play.

* It was not LHP Matt Harrison's night. He started off very efficient, but had some control problems in the third. He walked the leadoff hitter (never a good thing) and singles by Bill Hall and Marco Scutaro loaded the bases for J.D. Drew, who hit one to the short porch in right field for a grand slam. That turned a 4-1 Rangers lead into a 5-4 deficit. Harrison lasted just four innings (he gave up a walk to start the fifth). It ended his string of quality starts and allowing one earned run in at least six innings pitched.

* An overall good job by the Rangers' bullpen, being asked to work extra after Harrison went four and the game went into extra innings. That included (but not limited too):

-- RHP Chris Ray could end up being a power righty for the eighth inning for this team. He came in for the seventh on Wednesday to face the heart of the order and got Dustin Pedroia swinging for the first out. Youkilis popped up on a 3-1 pitch and Lowell flied out to right. It was a 1-2-3 inning for Ray, who is showing good form of late.

-- RHP Darren O'Day also got a 1-2-3 inning, including a fly ball out to Darnell McDonald in the eighth, which was his first out in a Red Sox uniform.

-- Washington saved RHP Dustin Nippert for the extra frames and he came in and got three outs in the 11th to keep the game going. He eventually gave up the winning run in the 12th.

More thoughts to come later.