Friday, April 27, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rays 8, Rangers 4
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Matt Harrison just didn't have it and the Rangers weren't able to take advantage of some scoring chances late as the Tampa Bay Rays won 8-4. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers lose for only the fifth time in 20 games. Tampa Bay has won six straight games. The Oakland A's won, so they are second in the AL West at 4 1/2 games back.
Hit parade vs. Harrison: The 26-year-old tied a franchise record for hits allowed Friday as the Rays got 14 off him. It's the third time that's happened in club history (Bobby Witt did it in 1996 vs. Seattle and Oil Can Boyd in 1991 at Baltimore). He had at least one man on in all five innings he pitched, which meant he was throwing from the stretch most of his outing.
Harrison allowed seven runs (six earned) on those 14 hits, which included one homer (Evan Longoria) and two doubles in his five innings of work. Before Friday, Harrison had allowed just four runs on 17 hits in his first three starts combined. He had pitched at least six innings in all of those starts, too. He just wasn't able to keep the Tampa Bay hitters off-balance Friday.
Hamilton homer: Josh Hamilton hit his ninth home run in the first 20 games this season. He's only the second player in club history to hit nine homers in 20 games, joining Pete Incaviglia in 1987. Hamilton had three RBIs on Friday and has 22 on the season. That leads the AL.
Costly error: Ian Kinsler made his third error of the season and it was on what looked like a double play ball. Instead, Kinsler bobbled it and Carlos Pena was safe. That put two runners on for Evan Longoria, who homered.
First-inning trouble: The error in the first inning was only part of Harrison's first-inning troubles. He gave up a leadoff single to left to Desmond Jennings, gave up the homer to Longoria after the error by Kinsler and then issued a five-pitch walk to Ben Zobrist, a single to Jeff Keppinger and then an RBI single to B.J. Upton. So the first six batters got on base before Harrison got an out (throwing to third base on a bunt attempt to get the lead runner).
Nice throw: David Murphy nailed Upton as he tried to go from second to third on a fly ball in the first. Murphy caught the ball in left and then fired a strike to third baseman Adrian Beltre. The play wasn't even close and I'm not sure why Upton thought he could get there. The double play ended the rough inning for Harrison and the Rangers.
Picked off: James Shields led the majors in pickoffs in 2011 with 13. He got his first of 2012 in the first inning Friday. With Kinsler at third and Elvis Andrus at first, Shields made a terrific move and got Andrus as he tried to slide back in front of the tag. It helped limit what was starting to look like a big inning for the Rangers. Texas had four hits in the inning, but managed just one run.
Plate block: Catcher Mike Napoli did a nice job of blocking home plate as Upton tried to score in the third inning. Nelson Cruz hit relay man Andrus, who fired on to the plate. Napoli blocked it long enough to get the tag applied before Upton touched it. It was a close play and home plate umpire Bob Davidson got in the right position and made a good call.
Andrus goes other way: The shortstop talked before the game about not trying to pull the ball and then put it into action, getting singles in his first three at-bats -- two to right field and another up the middle. It was Andrus' fifth multi-hit performance in his last 10 games.
Wasted chance in eighth (and long at-bat for Andrus): Texas loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but couldn't score. Cruz was thrown out at home plate when he tried to score on a wild pitch that got away from catcher Chris Gimenez. Had Cruz not hesitated, he probably could have scored, but it's difficult to read that ball from third base. Still, Kinsler walked to load them again for Andrus. That's when reliever Wade Davis and Andrus had an interesting clash. It was a tense, 11-pitch at-bat with Andrus fouling off fastballs and even sending one deep to right field and foul for a near game-tying grand slam. But Davis got him to fly out to end the inning.
Hat tricks of Ks: Hamilton and Napoli had three strikeouts each Friday. Hamilton struck out to start the ninth against Jake McGee on a 97 mph fastball.
Tidbits: Murphy reached on catcher's interference in the second. He has advanced on that call a handful of times the last few years (he got on twice in one game against the Mariners in 2010). It does not count as an at-bat. ... The Rangers had two balls that they normally get to, but certainly aren't errors, in the fourth. Beltre wasn't able to get to a hot shot double by Elliot Johnson and it seems like he usually gets to any ball down there, and Hamilton wasn't quite able to get to Zobrist's fly ball to wall in center that was a double. ... Robbie Ross pitched a scoreless eighth inning getting through the Nos. 2-4 hitters for Tampa Bay (Pena, Longoria and Zobrist). He got Luke Scott to start the ninth before Alexi Ogando replaced him. ... Right-handed batters are now 0-for-16 against Ogando in 2012.
Up next: The Rays and Rangers tangle again Saturday with Colby Lewis going up against Jeff Niemann.