OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers had a few chances Tuesday to grab some early runs and momentum in their quest to clinch an AL West title that remains elusive.
But as has been the case too often the last few weeks -- and in longer stretches during 2012 -- the club was not able to take advantage of those opportunities.
The second inning of Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Oakland was the best illustration. Adrian Beltre led off with a double off the wall in left-center and stood at second base in a scoreless game. But Nelson Cruz's ground out to the left side of the infield couldn't move Beltre to third. And after Michael Young got an infield hit to put runners at the corners with one out, Mike Napoli hit a ball hard enough to score him, except that it was right at third baseman Josh Donaldson. The line-drive out kept the runners where they were and when Geovany Soto watched a curve ball catch just enough of the plate for a third strike, the Rangers' threat was over.
"We got him to third and didn't get him in," manager Ron Washington said. "We could only get one run."
That came in the third off a Josh Hamilton double. But after that, the club got some runners on and then quickly ended chances with rally-killing double plays. Cruz got on via an error to lead off the fourth, but Young followed with a double play. Elvis Andrus walked to start the sixth and Hamilton hit into a double play. In the seventh, with one on and one out, Napoli grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Rangers were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, continuing an alarming trend of not getting that hit in key situations. It means that with one game left in the season, the Rangers must win to earn the AL West title.
"It would be nice to get some early runs," outfielder David Murphy said. "These guys are playing well. They've earned it. We're a talented group of guys. We haven't played up to our standards lately. If we can get the offense going a little bit early, that would definitely help. It should be a lot of fun."