Rapid Reaction: Angels 3, Rangers 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It was a crazy night in Anaheim as the Rangers struggled defensively, didn't get enough timely hits and were clearly frustrated by calls that didn't go their way in a 3-2 loss to the Angels. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The loss narrows the Rangers' lead to 3.5 games and gives the Angels the series win. Texas will attempt to avoid a sweep Sunday. The last time the lead was less than four games for Texas in the division was May 6 (3.5 ahead).
Strange seventh: Elvis Andrus was involved in one of the strangest plays of the season. A bouncer to short off the bat of Mike Trout nearly hit (or maybe it grazed) runner Erick Aybar. Andrus gloved the ball and rather than throw to first, he pointed at third base umpre Marvin Hudson to call Aybar out. Hudson didn't and Trout was safe at first with an infield hit. Trout's speed would have made it a tough play, but it was surprising not to see Andrus at least throw it over there. Aybar scored on Alberto Callaspo's single.
Another call upset the Rangers later in the inning. Kendrys Morales hit a sacrifice fly to right field and Nelson Cruz came up firing. He made a nice throw on a line to catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who applied the tag to get Trout. But home plate umpire Tim McClelland called Trout safe (replays appeared to show the tag was there before Trout's foot hit the plate). Torrealba immediately jumped up and down in disgust and was ejected before manager Ron Washington, who sprinted in from the dugout steps, could get there. It was the sixth ejection of Torrealba's career and the second Rangers ejection of the season (Washington was tossed on April 29). That made it 3-1.
Costly errors: In what has become a theme recently, the Rangers struggled defensively. Two errors in the sixth were particularly costly. Albert Pujols hit a popup to shallow right field. Mike Napoli drifted back, appeared to be under it, but then the ball drifted on him and he couldn't catch it. Napoli threw to second base, but Pujols was called safe (replays appeared to show Pujols was out). Pujols got to third as Kendrys Morales struck out as Darvish didn't really look in his direction. It was a nice heads-up play by Pujols. He then scored when Mark Trumbo's ground ball to third baseman Adrian Beltre was bobbled when he tried to throw home. ... The Rangers had three errors on the night, tying a season high.
Darvish solid: He didn't get a win and he didn't get much help from his defense, but Yu Darvish did get a quality start. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 6 1/3 innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. He was able to limit damage in certain innings but couldn't get out of the crazy seventh. ... Darvish walked Albert Pujols on four pitches in the fourth and a few batters later put Torii Hunter on as well via base on balls. Darvish has now walked at least two batters in every start this season and has 37 on the year (in 11 starts).
Only one: The Rangers had the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh but managed just one run. That run came on David Murphy's sacrifice fly to center, scoring Nelson Cruz to tie the score. Torrealba hit into a fielder's choice as the throw was made to home (and catcher Bobby Wilson made a great diving catch and kept his foot on the bag). Ian Kinsler ended up grounding out with two outs to end the inning.
30 unearned runs: The run in the sixth was unearned, the 30th of the season for the Rangers, which leads the AL. They have at least one unearned run in their last four games.
Double-play mania: The Rangers hit into double plays in each of the first four innings. Three were on ground balls, the other was when Nelson Cruz struck out and Michael Young was caught trying to steal second (the strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play) in the fourth.
Working the pitcher: The Rangers didn't score in the first, but they made C.J. Wilson throw 29 pitches in the process, driving up his pitch count. And that was from four batters. Wilson walked Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, but a double play ball -- the Rangers' fourth double play in the last 10 innings at that point -- helped Wilson get out of the inning.
Defensive woes: In the first inning, the Rangers had two defensive miscues. Elvis Andrus made a high throw on a grounder from Mike Trout that forced Mike Napoli to jump off the bag. With Trout on at first, Alberto Callaspo hit a liner right at Napoli. It hit Napoli in the glove, but dropped to his right. Ian Kinsler picked it up and threw to first, but the bobbled prevented a double play attempt. Darvish pitched his way around the mistakes, getting out of the first inning with no damage done. ... Torrealba had a passed ball and Darvish bobbled a ball on a bunt that was called a hit. Overall, it wasn't a crisp defensive game (again).
There was some good glove work: Two innings later, the Rangers made two highlight-reel plays. Craig Gentry timed his jump at the fence perfectly and took a home run away from Erick Aybar to lead off the third. Replays showed his glove over the fence as he took it away. ... Two batters later, Elvis Andrus made a diving stab on a tricky liner up the middle.
Long at-bat, tense ending: Ian Kinsler didn't let the Angels end the game easily. The second baseman had an 11-pitch walk against Ernesto Frieri, who has been getting everybody out since coming over from San Diego. An error on Aybar (threw it too high) let Andrus get on safely to load the bases for Josh Hamilton, who struck out to end the game.
Four Ks: It was a rough night at the plate for Adrian Beltre, who struck out three times against left-hander C.J. Wilson and then once against Scott Downs.
Up next: Matt Harrison takes on Dan Haren in the series finale at 2:35 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and FSSW.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.