Friday, September 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Royals 2, Rangers 1
By Todd Wills
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Rangers just can't take the upper hand in the American League wild-card race.
In a tight game Friday night, Texas blinked first when Neftali Feliz walked in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth and the Kansas City Royals picked up a crucial 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.
The Rangers are 2-3 on the road trip and a dismal 4-14 in September.
Misery in the 8th: Jason Frasor struck out the first two Royals in the bottom of the eighth, and then the entire night unraveled on the Rangers. Lorenzo Cain singled up the middle. Mike Moustakas had a bloop single to left field just over the glove of Elvis Andrus. Frasor got ahead of pinch hitter David Lough with a 1-2 count but couldn't put him away and walked him to load the bases. Then, manager Ron Washington went to Feliz, who has had very little work in pressure situations since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Feliz delivered a four-pitch walk to No. 9 hitter Alcides Escobar to force in the go-ahead run. Left-hander Joe Ortiz did come and get Alex Gordon to ground out to second to end the inning.
Wild-card race: It was a very bad night for the Rangers in the wild-card race. The Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians beat the Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros, respectively. The Rangers now find themselves outside of the wild-card picture, trailing the Rays by a game and the Indians by a half-game. The Royals moved within two games of the Rangers, and the Orioles stayed two games back of Texas. The New York Yankees beat the San Francisco Giants to climb within 2.5 games of Texas.
Rangers strike first: Adrian Beltre started the second inning with a single off Ervin Santana. A.J. Pierzynski just missed a home run to right-center field, instead settling for a double high off the wall. Beltre took a risk and tried to score, and the Royals produced a very poor relay that allowed the Rangers to take a 1-0 lead.
Royals tie it: Salvador Perez and Cain started the bottom of the second with singles. Martin Perez then got his second double play in two innings but Perez moved to third. Justin Maxwell hit a low drive into center field that Leonys Martin just missed snagging, and Perez came in to tie the game.
Missed chance: The Rangers loaded the bases in the top of the fifth against Santana. David Murphy had a two-out double, Martin reached on an error and stole second and Ian Kinsler drew a walk. That brought up the shortstop Andrus, the Rangers' hottest hitter in September. Texas suffered some terrible luck when Santana uncorked a wild pitch -- Murphy couldn't score because the ball bounced off the backstop padding and kicked all the way back out to Perez at home plate. Andrus struck out to end the threat.
Perez's night: Perez only allowed one run in 5⅔ innings, but he had to pitch around a lot of baserunners. He allowed seven hits and four walks. He allowed two runners on after two outs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but managed to get out of trouble (with the help of reliever Neal Cotts in the sixth). Perez did get hit by a screamer off his left elbow in the fifth inning near the same place he suffered a fracture during spring training and missed the beginning of the season. Perez stayed in the game and got a lineout by Perez to end the inning.
Cotts doing work: Cotts stayed in the game and pitched a perfect bottom of the seventh, the first 1-2-3 inning of the night for a Rangers pitcher. Cotts got two ground ball outs and a strikeout in lowering his major league-best ERA to 1.04.
No solving Santana: Santana pitched a gem for the Royals, allowing five hits in 7⅓ innings. It was a turnaround for Santana, who had a career 5.79 ERA against the Rangers coming into the game. Santana retired 11 in a row at one point.
Up next: The Rangers will send right-hander Matt Garza (9-6, 4.06 ERA) to the mound against Kansas City right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (14-11, 4.08) at 6:10 p.m. ET Saturday night on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540 AM.