Worst inning of 2012 costs Rangers
Sure, they've had innings and games where they've played rough defense or not taken advantage of scoring opportunities. They've had innings where they've allowed big numbers. But they haven't had an inning quite like the fourth Tuesday night.
Even before it started, Josh Hamilton wasn't on the field. The slugger was taken out with vision problems and sinus issues. Hamilton wasn't around to talk to reporters, so it's unclear what that means and how serious the vision problems were. But it bothered him enough that he came out of a big September game in Anaheim in the third inning. So perhaps later today we'll know a little more.
But even after that, the inning started pretty well. Ryan Dempster managed to scamper to first base and beat MVP candidate Mike Trout to the bag for the first out. Things disintegrated after that.
The Rangers went from a 3-1 lead to a 9-3 deficit. It wasn't just that the Angels scored eight runs. It was how they scored them. They got plenty of help from the Rangers.
After Dempster gave up a two-run single to tie the game, Tanner Scheppers came in and threw two pitches that altered the inning considerably. He hit a batter and then threw a wild pitch, which allowed two runs to score. Scheppers was hurt at home plate in the process, landing on his knee. He left the game after that. Texas also had an error as Mike Napoli tried to throw the ball home to get the second runner, but Scheppers was on the ground in pain. The Angels drew a few walks and pounded the ball around the stadium to keep scoring runs and alter the game.
Considering it's mid-September and the Rangers had a chance to gain a game on their closest pursuer, it has to be the worst inning of the season, doesn't it? The Rangers didn't execute and let a lead on the road completely get away.
But one of the hallmarks of this team the past few years is an ability to move on and forget about problems. The Angels know that's in the Rangers' character. After all, Los Angeles won the first two games of a big series at the end of July and led by six on Aug. 1 before the Rangers roared back. Since that dramatic 11-10 win in extra innings, the two teams have gone different directions. The Rangers have stayed in front in the AL West and the Angels are fighting for a wild-card spot (they are three back since Baltimore won in extra innings last night).
Focusing on what's ahead is a big reason the Rangers haven't lost more than four consecutive games all season. And the last time they did that was early July.
The Rangers' mission remains what it's been since the second half started: to win series. They've played 19 series since the break and have won 13 of them, splitting two and losing four.
They've done that by putting the past behind them and bouncing back. To win this series, they'll need to beat C.J. Wilson and Zack Greinke. And they'll need to forget about that awful fourth inning.
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