Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Rapid Reaction: M's 4, Rangers 3
By Richard Durrett
SEATTLE -- The Rangers bullpen couldn't get it done (and the Rangers didn't produce enough offense) in a 4-3 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday in the first game of this three-game set. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse):
* The bullpen couldn't hold a lead (again) on Tuesday. In fact, it couldn't hold a lead twice. The latest blown lead was in the eighth. With a 3-2 lead, Pedro Strop came back for a second inning of work and gave up a single, then slipped trying to field a bunt and couldn't get an out at first. Former Ranger Justin Smoak tied the game with a single off the glove of Mike Napoli at first and then, with Darren Oliver on the mound, Jack Cust singled to center to give the Mariners the lead.
* Should Chris Davis have been in the game at first base as a defensive substitute with the Rangers up by one in the eighth?
* Speed helped the Rangers get the lead back in the top of the eighth. Julio Borbon singled to right to lead things off. Ian Kinsler bunted him to second (not sure if that was called or if Kinsler did that on his own). Borbon stole third, picking the right time to go as a breaking ball was thrown in the dirt. He scored when pinch-hitter Elvis Andrus executed the squeeze bunt perfectly.
* The bullpen couldn't keep the Rangers in front 2-1 in the seventh. Strop came in for Alexi Ogando and gave up a 1-2 single to Ryan Langerhans, threw a wild pitch to put him at second and then a bunt got him to third. The bunt play was odd. Yorvit Torrealba threw to third to try to get the possible tying run instead of going to first to get the out. His throw was off the mark to put runners at first and third with no outs. Langerhans scored when Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a double play.
* Texas' offense didn't do much on Tuesday. Kinsler's double to lead off the sixth was the club's first hit off Erik Bedard. It came on Bedard's 79th pitch. But when the Rangers needed a clutch hit, Michael Young once again delivered. Young hit a rocket under the glove of Adam Kennedy, who was playing in with Kinsler at third, and it went into the outfield to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
* Ogando doesn't panic, does he? The Mariners got things going in the second. Ogando walked Miguel Olivo on four straight pitches to start the second inning. Smoak broke his bat on an Ogando fastball, but looped one to center. Then Ogando hit Cust with a 2-2 pitch to load the bases with no outs. But Ogando settled down and started relying on his fastball, which the Mariners couldn't really handle. He struck out Michael Saunders looking at a 96 mph heater on the outside corner. Then he got Langerhans swinging on a foul-tipped 96 mph fastball (and a nice play by Torrealba to catch it). Kinsler snagged a liner to second off the bat of Brendan Ryan to end the inning with no damage done.
* Ogando struggled with his command in the third. He managed to get two outs with two on, but put a fastball up in the middle of the plate and Smoak belted it (OK, smoked it) to right field. The ball bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double, forcing Adam Kennedy to hold up at third. The double scored Ichiro to tie the game, but Ogando got out of the jam to keep things tied.
* Ogando did well to get through six innings considering he'd thrown 67 pitches through three innings. Most of Ogando's outs were fly balls, but they didn't get out in the chilly Seattle air. Ogando got out of some jams and despite stressful innings, finished with one run allowed on five hits in six innings. Yet another quality start in the box score.
* Ogando relied on his fastball to bail him out of some jams, but then found his slider later in his outing and was able to retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
* The Rangers got some breaks early. Kinsler appeared to be caught on a pickoff move by Bedard in the first. But a high and slightly wide throw by first baseman Smoak allowed Kinsler to slide headfirst just under the tag. That put a runner at second with no outs in the first. After Young's hard-hit ball turned into a long out, Adrian Beltre hit a liner to third that was bobbled by Chone Figgins as he tried to backhand the grounder. That allowed Kinsler to score. The E5 gave the Rangers the lead. I don't believe Figgins had any chance at a double play with Andres Blanco running (from first) on the pitch. But he might have had a shot at Kinsler at the plate. But he never got a handle on it, so we'll never know. They did work Mariners starter Bedard, who went to three full counts in the inning, had two walks and threw 33 pitches.
* When things aren't going well at the plate, you don't get any breaks either. Ask Nelson Cruz. He hit some balls hard on Tuesday, but didn't have anything to show for it. A ground ball to third in the fourth turned into a close play at first and Cruz thought he was safe. He was called out and walked back to the dugout frustrated. He is now 2-for-20 on this road trip. Cruz came out of the game after the sixth with tightness in his right quad. He'll be evaluated further on Wednesday. Mitch Moreland took his place.
* Beltre hasn't been immune to the defensive issues that have plagued the team the past few weeks. He wasn't given an error on a hard liner to third by Figgins in the fifth. But it's the kind of play Beltre normally makes, especially considering it went off his glove.
* The Rangers are now 7-13 since Josh Hamilton was injured. They are 1-4 on this seven-game road trip through Oakland and Seattle.