Rapid Reaction: Tigers 6, Rangers 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A three-run home run by Prince Fielder and some wasted chances by the Rangers offense helped the Detroit Tigers to a 6-2 win in front of a sellout crowd Friday. Some quick thoughts on the game:
What it means: The Rangers lose the first game of the three-game set with the Tigers, ending a two-game winning streak. It's the fourth time in the last five series that the Rangers have lost the opener. ... They had a 5 1/2-game lead in the AL West going into the night, with Oakland (vs. the White Sox) and the Angels (vs. Seattle) still playing at the time the game ended.
Mixed results for Feldman: It appeared Scott Feldman might have a chance to get his seventh win early when he faced the minimum through the first nine batters, with a double play erasing a walk. But the Tigers got a run back in the fourth thanks in large part to a leadoff triple by Austin Jackson and then Feldman ran into trouble in the sixth despite getting the first two batters he faced.
Fielder's line-drive homer: Feldman gave up an infield single to Andy Dirks, whose ground ball got by the mound and Ian Kinsler tried to barehand and throw it, but didn't really have a chance to get Dirks (the throw hit the dugout screen, but I don't think he gets him anyway). Miguel Cabrera then singled and Fielder followed with a three-run home run measured at 382 feet to right field. It did not take it long to get out of the park. While Cabrera has owned Feldman -- he was 2-for-3 off Feldman on Friday and is now 9-for-13 with two homers and five RBIs in his career against him -- Fielder was 0-for-5 before the homer.
Inside-the-park homer: Nelson Cruz attempted to dive at a ball a few feet in front of him off the bat of the speedy Austin Jackson in the seventh and the ball got past him. Jackson just kept running and scored easily as the relay throw was high and late. ... It's the first inside-the-park home run at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington since Craig Gentry did it on Sept. 23, 2011 vs. Seattle. ... The last opponent to hit an inside-the-park homer was Grady Sizemore in Arlington on Sept. 24, 2006. It's the 22nd inside-the-park homer hit against the Rangers.
Rough seventh for Cruz: After the diving play resulted in the homer for Jackson, Cruz ran in and camped under Miguel Cabrera's pop-up in shallow right field for what should have been a routine play. But the ball hit off Cruz's glove and dropped for a two-base error. ... Cruz came out of the game in the top of the eighth with low back stiffness. He was clutching his back after the dive on Jackson's fly ball.
Wasted chances: The Rangers had at least one runner on base in all nine innings innings and scored just two runs (both off Max Scherzer). ... Texas had two on and no one out in the second and then runners at second and third with one out and couldn't score. ... The Rangers scored a run in the third and then loaded the bases with two outs, but David Murphy's fly ball to deep center ended the inning without any more runs scored. ... A leadoff single in the seventh by Michael Young didn't get the offense going, either, as Murphy, Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland all struck out with Young stuck at first. ... The Rangers had Scherzer at 66 pitches through three, yet he was able to go six and allowed just two runs on the eight hits allowed with eight strikeouts and two walks.
Hamilton homers: For the eighth time this season, Josh Hamilton has now hit homers in at least two straight games. The last time he did it was June 25 and 26. ... Hamilton extended his hitting streak to eight games and is batting .333 (12-for-36) with two doubles, a triple, two homers, 12 RBIs, six runs and a walk in that stretch.
Passed ball on K: Murphy swung and missed at an 0-2, 95-mph fastball from Scherzer in the second inning with runners at first and second. The ball went off catcher Alex Avila's glove and to the backstop. By rule, Murphy could not advance. But Nelson Cruz (single) and Michael Young (walk) moved up to second and third with one out. But Scherzer struck out Napoli and got Moreland to ground out to end the inning with no damage done.
Two-strike hits: Kinsler and Elvis Andrus both had two-strike hits to score the second run of the game. Kinsler belted a 2-2 pitch down the left field line and into the corner to get to second. Andrus then had a great at-bat, hitting a 3-2 pitch to left field to score Kinsler. Andrus tried to go to second on the throw and was tagged out after it was cut off. But both players have made getting hits with two strikes a habit. Andrus was No. 4 in the AL coming into the game with a .266 average. Kinsler was No. 17. ... As a team, the Rangers were tops in the AL coming into the game in terms of two-strike average at .204. ... Andrus did not like the call at second base as he felt he got his foot on the bag before he was tagged.
Young streaks: The veteran extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an infield single in the third. Young is batting .357 (15-for-42) during the streak. ... He had three hits Friday and was on base in all four plate appearances.
Caught stealing: Moreland joked after his first stolen base a few weeks ago that he was going to try to stay perfect for the season. Well, that quest ended Friday in his second attempt of 2012. Moreland took off -- it didn't appear to be a hit-and-run, though Kinsler did square to bunt -- and was thrown out in the fourth.
Great catch: Hamilton sprinted in and made a nice diving catch to rob a hit from Jhonny Peralta in the fifth. Avila, who was at first after a single, took off running and was at third base when Hamilton made the catch and was doubled off easily.
Ross, Lowe struggle: Robbie Ross came in to relieve Feldman with no on and two outs in the sixth and gave up a run on a hit and two walks before getting the final out of the inning. ... Mark Lowe, making his first appearance since June 26, gave up a double and two walks and left with two outs in the eighth, but didn't allow a run as Michael Kirkman got the final out with the bases loaded.
Tidbits: Mike Napoli had two strikeouts Friday and has a team-high 108 on the season. Coming into Friday's game, Napoli was ninth in the AL. Adam Dunn is far and away the leader with 163 going into Friday's action. ... The team got its 31st sellout of the season as they continue to add to the club record. ... Saturday's game is sold out. There are about 1,500 reserved seats for Sunday's game.
Up next: LHP Derek Holland (7-6, 5.18 ERA) takes the mound for Texas against RHP Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.51 ERA). The game starts at 7:30 p.m. because of the on-field ceremony to honor the 40th anniversary team and for Eric Nadel to be inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.
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.