Rapid Reaction: White Sox 5, Rangers 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers couldn't come through in the clutch, struggling with runners in scoring position, and Matt Harrison gave up a couple of homers in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Some quick notes on the game:
What it means: The Rangers' offense is a mess right now and the club is 8-12 in July. The A's won earlier in the day and are now 3 1/2 games back in the AL West.
RISP issues: The Texas Rangers are not hitting the ball well with runners in scoring position these days. They are 30-for-154 in July (.195). Only the Houston Astros are worse in July (.175). It's been particularly bad the last two games. They were 1-for-8 on Friday and 0-for-13 on Saturday. That's 1-for-21 in the series. The best illustrations of the issues were the fifth and seventh innings Saturday. A look:
* Leonys Martin hit a double after Mike Napoli led off the fifth with a home run, giving the Rangers a little hope for an inning that could let them climb back in a 5-1 game. Craig Gentry's ground ball to short moved Martin to third base. But Ian Kinsler struck out on an inside pitch that wasn't a strike and Elvis Andrus grounded out to second to end the threat.
* Michael Young legged out a leadoff triple in the seventh but couldn't go anywhere. After Napoli walked to put runners on the corners with no outs, Jesse Crain came in to relieve Philip Humber and struck out Martin on a changeup, got Craig Gentry swinging and then benefited from a diving catch in left by Dayan Viciedo on a ball hit by Kinsler. (It seems that slumping offenses don't get many bloop hits.)
* In the ninth, David Murphy hit a leadoff double and Young and Mike Napoli both hit hard grounders up the middle, but nice plays by the White Sox middle infielders kept them from being hits.
Scoring drought: Since scoring four runs in the first inning of Friday's game, Texas has just two runs in its last 17 innings in the losses.
Homers hurt Harrison: For the first time since May 7 against Baltimore, Harrison allowed two home runs in the same outing. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko hit home runs that totaled 823 feet and Harrison gave up five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. It was the first time since May 2 at Toronto that Harrison had given up at least that many runs (he allowed eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings in that outing). ... Harrison has lost two straight games for the first time since April 27 and May 2.
Dazzling defense: The Rangers made two nice defensive plays in the third inning. Young showed nice reaction time, diving and catching a hard skimmer off the bat of Gordon Beckham to lead off the inning. Later, Adrian Beltre charged a ball down the third-base line and made a nice throw to first to retire Eduardo Escobar. It wasn't an easy play, but Beltre made it look routine (as he usually does). ... Beltre made another ridiculous defensive play in the fifth, catching a one-hop relay throw from Elvis Andrus and tagging Escobar in the same motion to get the out.
Konerko crusher: Harrison left a pitch up in the zone and Konerko crushed it, sending it deep to left field nearly over the first section of seats in the bottom bowl. The estimated distance was 416 feet and with Dunn at first base on a base hit (a ball that went under Ian Kinsler's glove as he tried to backhand it in the hole) it gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead. ... Dunn got into the act to center field with a runner on. So four of the five runs allowed by Harrison came on homers.
Napoli homers: Mike Napoli got back into his favorite count -- 3-2 -- in the fifth inning and hit his 16th homer of the season to give the Rangers their first run of the game. It was his fourth homer in his last six games. Napoli is batting .304 in his last seven games (7-for-23) with four homers, six RBIs and six walks. He's walking more, too. He's walked at least once in 10 of his last 14 games (15 total walks).
Tidbits: Neither team had a hit through three innings. ... The attendance was 47,580. That's the 29th sellout of the season for Texas, extending the club record.
Up next: The final game of this three-game set with the Chicago White Sox features Scott Feldman (4-6, 5.37 ERA) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (8-8, 4.46 ERA). The game starts at 6:05 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.