Sunday, July 3, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Marlins 6, Rangers 4
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers' bullpen couldn't hold a lead late and Texas lost a tough one. The club had more defensive issues and wasn't able to get C.J. Wilson a win that he deserved. Texas was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Angels beat the Dodgers, meaning there is a tie on top of the AL West.
* Wilson sure looked like an All-Star on Sunday. He was locating his breaking pitches well, working off good fastball command and getting plenty of ground balls. Wilson had nine strikeouts, mixing things up with two strikes. He got Brett Hayes on a cutter low and away. He struck out Mike Stanton with a high fastball. He induced a swinging strikeout on a slider to Logan Morrison. It was precision at its best. He deserved a win but didn't get one after Florida took the lead off the Rangers' bullpen in the eighth.
* Wilson did the bullpen a major favor. The relief corps had to go all but the first two outs in Saturday's game, a heavy 8 1/3-inning workload. Wilson made sure they got a a bit of a break Sunday.
* But when they were needed, they couldn't get the job done. The Rangers needed four pitchers to get through the eighth. Mark Lowe came on for Wilson with one out and a runner at third. He got a ground ball to third to keep the tying run at third base. But after walking Gaby Sanchez, Lowe couldn't get to a chopper over the mound by Hanley Ramirez. It was scored an error on Elvis Andrus (I thought it was a hit), but it tied the score.
* Lowe also tried a first-to-third pickoff play and it appeared it would work, but Lowe hesitated and didn't get the runner at first. Gaby Sanchez was too far off first base and was still able to get back. That hurt.
* That brought in Darren Oliver, who allowed a double to Logan Morrison to score two more runs and give the Marlins the lead.
* Neftali Feliz came in with the Rangers down two runs in the eighth, certainly an odd time for him to come to the mound. He gave up an 0-2 single to Mike Stanton to score another run and then the inning finally ended when Yorvit Torrealba threw out Stanton at second trying to steal. Feliz gave up another single in the ninth to Emilio Bonifacio which allowed Wes Helms to score from second.
* Manager Ron Washington was ejected for the second time in the last week (and season) and it happened after he came out of the dugout following the ejection of first base coach Gary Pettis in the seventh. Nelson Cruz was thrown out on a pickoff move that Pettis probalby felt was a balk. First base umpire Angel Hernandez ejected Pettis. That brought Washington out and after he argued, he was tossed. It was also Pettis' second ejection of the season, the other on April 17.
* The ejection left 72-year-old Jackie Moore as the manager, meaning the combined ages of the managers in the game at that point went up to 152. (Jack McKeon of Florida is 80).
* Nelson Cruz hit his 20th homer of the season, a 409-foot shot to left field in the second. Cruz belted a 2-1 curveball into the seats. Cruz is now just two homers shy of his 2010 total. He has hit those 20 homers in 66 games (250 at-bats). That's the quickest he's reached 20 homers in his career. It took him until the 93rd game in 2010 and the 75th game in 2009, when he hit a career-high 33 homers. This is the third straight season of at least 20 homers for Cruz.
* Beltre hit a 400-foot homer to right and it hit the back wall of the Rangers bullpen. It was Beltre's 15th homer of the season. And it was a no-doubter despite no real jet stream. RF Mike Stanton took one step and then just turned his head, not even bothering to jog toward the warning track. That was a hard shot.
* Mitch Moreland and David Murphy are still struggling right now. Moreland is 5-for-38 in his last 11 games. He did have good swings and hung in during a tough at-bat in the fourth, though he struck out on a 3-2 breaking ball. He also had a long fly ball that was caught at the wall in center. He worked a 2-2 count in the ninth with Cruz on second but grounded out to short. Murphy is 5-or-34 in his last 12 games and is hitting .233. He did have an RBI triple in the ninth but also had an error in left field on Gaby Sanchez's single (I think Sanchez would have had a double whether Murphy caught in cleanly or not) earlier in the game.
* The Rangers announced 46,092, the eighth sellout of the season. Texas had seven sellouts all of last year. BTW, there were 8,000 tickets available for July 4 game as of late Sunday night.
* Wilson tried to grab a chopper with his bare hand off the bat Emilio Bonifacio, who led off the game. The out was recorded 1-4-3, but it meant manager Ron Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux and athletic trainer Jamie Reed had to come out to check on Wilson. He was fine and stayed in the game. But Rangers pitchers have been trying to make defensive plays barehanded lately. It's just instinct, but it's way too risky.
* All of the scoreboards in the ballpark turned off and the audio failed before Hamilton's at-bat in the bottom of the eighth. The audio issues were fixed before the bottom of the ninth and the scoreboard came back on in time for the last out of the game.