Saturday, July 2, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Florida 9, Rangers 5
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers starter Derek Holland gave up five runs and couldn't get out of the first inning, and the club had some defensive breakdowns in a 9-5 loss. They did battle back with home runs but couldn't completely dig out of the early hole. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse):
* Holland became the first Rangers pitcher to have a start of less than an inning without an injury or ejection causing the early exit since Brandon McCarthy on Sept. 11, 2007 against Detroit. That one was also two-thirds of an inning. It was the shorest outing of Holland's career. He lasted just one inning in Minnesota last May, but that was because of injury.
* Holland was throwing primarily fastballs -- 26 of his first 30 pitches were fastballs -- and wasn't locating them well. It wasn't until after Hanley Ramirez's grand slam that Holland started trying to throw more changeups and curve balls. But none of it was consistent. He gave up five runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout and left after a long chat with manager Ron Washington. He fell behind in the count and then when he tried to find the strike zone, he threw some over the middle of the plate where the Marlins could hit it.
* The short outing forced Washington to put Tommy Hunter in the game because the club was working today's game without many other long-relief options. Dave Bush was DFA'd Friday to get Hunter on the roster and Michael Kirkman, who pitched last night, was optioned to Triple-A before Saturday's game when Darren O'Day was activated. So despite pitching the ninth in his last minor-league outing, Hunter was out there in the first inning Saturday.
And his 2011 debut was a good one. Hunter helped save part of the bullpen by going into the sixth inning. He took a ball off his right foot that turned into an infield hit for Emilio Bonifacio. He allowed two runs, one unearned. The earned run was after Hunter's only walk. He left the game with the bases loaded and the run scored on a sacrifice fly off a pitch from O'Day. The Rangers confirmed during the game that Hunter was fine. No issue with the ball off his foot.
* O'Day didn't have the kind of first outing back he'd hoped. He gave up back-to-back homers to Ramirez and Logan Morrison in the seventh, just after the Rangers had closed the gap to two runs. O'Day left two pitches up and both hitters made him pay for it.
* For the second time this season, catcher Yorvit Torrealba had two errors in one inning. He did it thanks in part to fatigue and dehydration in Atlanta a few weeks ago. He did it again in the second inning Saturday because of two throws. He was charged with an errant throw to first on a bunt hit attempt and then on a bouncer to second as the runner stole the base (runner was credited with stolen base, went to third on E2). In fairness, the second error was more a product of shortstop Elvis Andrus, who needed to block the throw better knowing it wasn't going to get there in time anyway.
* The Rangers' defense had a tough night. Besides the errors, the club didn't execute a rundown well in the third. Hunter snagged a hard-hit ball back to the mound but then immediately threw to Adrian Beltre at third to start a rundown with the runner at second. But if Hunter runs at the runner, he forces the runner at first to think twice about getting to second. Instead, the lead runner (Morrison) was able to stay in the rundown long enough for Mike Stanton to get to second. It didn't end up costing the Rangers a run, but it's another example of the defense not executing things properly.
* The Rangers bats got going some in the third. Solo home runs by Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton cut into the Marlins' six-run lead. Kinsler now has 12 homers on the year, three more than all of last season. Kinsler has hit four homers in his last five games after hitting just three in the previous 55 games.
* Hamilton hit his second homer of the night and his 10th of the season in the fifth. That homer was an opposite-field shot to left, going 370 feet. It was the fourth multi-homer game of his career and his first since Sept. 2009 (vs. Toronto). It was also the fourth multi-homer game by a Ranger this season. The two-run shot cut the deficit to 6-4.
* Craig Gentry stole second base in the sixth. He later scored on dropped popup off the bat of Kinsler. Gentry is 10-for-10 on stolen bases this season. Kinsler ended up only at first base, thinking the ball would be caught. He ended up stealing second with two outs and Andrus at the plate. It appeared the ball came out of Ramirez's glove, but it never actually went in his glove. Umpire called out and then safe (but Kinsler was never really out to begin with).
* Mitch Moreland has struggled lately. He was 0-for-4 Saturday and is 5-for-34 in his last 10 games.