Rapid Reaction: Rays 6, Rangers 0
The Rangers couldn't figure out how to hit James Shields or how to stop B.J. Upton and fell 6-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. Some quick thoughts on a quick game:
What it means: The Rays win two out three over the weekend as Texas loses its first series since dropping three of four in Yankee Stadium in mid-August. The Rangers will wait to see how Oakland does later today as the lead in the AL West drops to four games for the moment. ... Texas wins six of 10 games on the road trip.
Shields dominant: The Rays' starting pitcher, who threw so well against the Rangers in Arlington 10 days ago, was at it again Sunday with a complete-game, two-hit shutout. His breaking stuff had plenty of movement, the sinker was working, he got ahead of hitters, and he pitched quickly. ... The only hit he allowed through the first 7 2/3 innings was a Nelson Cruz single to lead off the second, but Cruz was eliminated on Michael Young's double-play grounder. ... Shields gave up his second hit to David Murphy with two outs in the eighth. ... Shields allowed a runner in the first on an error he made, but it didn't end up hurting him. ... He struck out eight Rangers, including Geovany Soto, Josh Hamilton and Elvis Andrus twice. ... Shields needed just 101 pitches (71 strikes).
Short outing: Roy Oswalt lasted just two innings on Sunday and was pulled with a right flexor soreness near his elbow. ... He was struggling when he left, allowing four runs on six hits with a strikeout, a walk and two homers allowed in those two innings. ... Oswalt was hit hard in both innings and needed 49 pitches to get through them. ... He left with the Rangers down 4-0 and Martin Perez entered the game to take his place.
Leadoff long ball: The Rangers fell behind quickly on Sunday as Oswalt gave up a leadoff home run to Upton on the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning. ... Jose Molina hit a two-run shot off Oswalt in the second inning as well.
Up(ton), up, up and away: Upton had a memorable afternoon at Tropicana Field. After depositing a home run to start the game, he came back with another to lead off the fourth and still one more in the sixth. Upton blasted a solo shot off Perez on a 3-0, 92-mph fastball in the fourth. He then hit a first-pitch curve from Perez into the seats in left for his third homer of the game and 21st of the season. He's hit four of those off the Rangers this season.
Perez eats innings: Pressed into duty early with Oswalt's injury, Perez ended up pitching five innings and gave up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts, a walk and those two home runs allowed to Upton. ... Still, Perez did his job and perhaps gains some confidence from it in the process.
Tired?: The Rangers looked a bit weary from the 10-day road trip, especially after they fell behind so quickly. Perhaps the best example of that was an inability to turn a double play in the fourth. Ben Zobrist hit a ground ball to Elvis Andrus, and it appeared to be a double play. But the exchange at second base with Ian Kinsler took longer than normal and Zobrist beat it out. ... It's pretty natural to expect that from a team that has traveled that much and be away that long.
No scoring chances: Texas didn't even have an at-bat with runners in scoring position. In both losses to the Rays, the Rangers were a combined 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position.
Up next: The Rangers are off on Monday (they deserve it) and LHP Matt Harrison, who was given a few extra days of rest as Oswalt got the start Sunday, will pitch against Cleveland on Tuesday night. It's the start of a six-game homestand.
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