ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers are trying desperately to plug a gaggle of holes right now.
Some nights, they seem to do a decent job. On others, one hole springs a leak big enough to cause things to topple.
On Tuesday, it felt more like a flood in the latter stages of an 8-5 loss to the Miami Marlins. The injuries, youth and inexperience converged to generate a frustrating night for a club now three games under .500 and fourth in the American League West.
It left the manager trying to calmly answer questions about an ugly performance in the field and a disappointing finish that saw the Rangers blow a one-run lead in the final three innings.
"I get a little upset, but I don't get frustrated because we've still got work to do," Ron Washington said after watching his team commit three errors in losing their fourth straight.
Tuesday's game shows there's plenty of work left to do. Some examples:
"Martin could have gotten to that ball better," Washington said.
Martin wasn't much better at the plate, going 0-for-2 and losing a chance to hit in the sixth with runners on the corners and one out when Washington sent Dan Robertson to pinch hit for him. He is now 4-for-22 on this eight-game homestand.
Washington cited Martin's lack of hitting for the decision to pinch hit for him, though it's likely the skipper also was sending a message that those types of defensive plays won't be tolerated.
Martin seemed to understand.
"I have to go hard to the ball," he said.
--Colby Lewis, fighting as always, started for the Rangers. He's got grit and determination, but his stuff right now isn't baffling too many bats.
His mental game is strong enough that seven hits and dealing with men on base in all five of his innings only cost his club three runs. He limited damage and left with his team in the game. But he's only pitched six innings once this season and doesn't have a quality start in 11 outings.
Lewis is doing all he can. But right now, he's a back end of the rotation guy being asked to do more. And so far, he can't.
--Brad Snyder started at first base. His job application shows two professional games at the position, both in the past few days at Triple-A Round Rock. Essentially, he pulled an all-nighter to learn a new position, one that was supposed to be critical for this team in 2014. As debuts go, it wasn't bad.
Snyder had two RBIs and a big bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning, a frame that briefly gave the Rangers the lead. He also had a nice heads-up baserunning play to score a run. But he also cut off a ball at the mound that he probably shouldn't have, and he seemed a bit tentative. Again, that's to be expected.
"It was just inexperience," Washington said. "We told him when he came in that when you go into the cutoff position, your head has to be on a swivel with the people on the basepaths, so you know where everyone is all the time. It was an inexperienced move, but that will happen again in this game and he'll do the right thing."
Overall, it was a good game for him. But the mere fact that the club has been forced to get a 32-year-old with limited big league experience up to speed on a position he played a few times in winter ball and college shows how desperate the injury situation has become.
--The bullpen, overworked of late, doesn't have all the pieces needed to hold leads consistently.
On Tuesday, Washington couldn't make a lefty-lefty matchup work in a critical situation. Neal Cotts came in to try to get Yelich out and instead gave up a two-run single. The numbers said it wasn't a favorable situation for Texas. Left-handed batters were hitting .282 against Cotts, and Yelich hits left-handed pitchers better than righties, putting up a .302 average. The trends held as the Marlins took the lead with the single in the seventh.
--Rougned Odor tried to make a backhanded stab on a ground ball behind the bag that could have started a double play to end the seventh. Instead, the ball bounced under Odor's glove and into center field. The 20-year-old was charged with an error, and the Marlins ended up scoring two runs to take the lead.
"I expected it to bounce high, but the bounce was too low," Odor said through an interpreter.
--It seems that everyone is trying to make the extra play and forcing things. Perhaps that's what caused two errors on the same play in the eighth.
Michael Choice tried to throw to third to get the lead runner, but his throw hit either the runner or Adrian Beltre and deflected down the line toward Tanner Scheppers. The reliever grabbed it and tried to throw to second to get the trailing runner, but the toss was high and wide, going into center field. Choice got an error because the scorer believed the runner would not have gone to second if the throw hadn't gotten away from third.
Add it all up and it was an ugly 8-5 loss that leaves the club hoping for one final win before a difficult three-city tour through Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles.
"We have to keep battling until we get it right," Washington said.
That's all they can do.