Friday, October 25, 2013
Defining Dozen: Letting one get away
By Richard Durrett
Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a 12-part series titled "Defining Dozen," which looks at the 12 moments that impacted the 2013 season the most. We will count down from 12 to 1. The moments will include highs and lows for the Texas Rangers from a season that lasted until Game 163.
Desmond Jennings put the finishing touch on a difficult loss for the Rangers.
Moment No. 8: Rangers blow late lead, fall 4-3 to Tampa Bay Rays in September.
When you end up tying for the final wild-card spot, you can easily look back and pick out a game here and a game there that would have made the difference. But there was one that kept coming up when talking to some players and staff down the stretch: Sept. 18 in Tampa Bay.
That night, the Rangers led the game twice, only to blow it. They had the Rays down to their final strike, in fact, but couldn't finish them off. Instead, the Rays walked off with a 4-3 victory in 12 innings. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon called it the kind of "organic" win that could spark them to a run. And it did, as it turns out.
The Rangers led 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth and appeared to get out of the inning on a ready-made double-play ball. But a good, hard slide by Wil Myers on Jurickson Profar prevented a good relay throw and the inning continued. The Rays got two to tie it in that frame.
"That was the big inning," manager Ron Washington said after the game. "Not turning that double play changed the whole ballgame."
Texas regained the lead in the 11th on an aggressive, heads-up play by Elvis Andrus, who ran all the way home from first on a two-out single by Adrian Beltre (Myers didn't really see him and Andrus was able to get home). But with Joe Nathan on the mound in the bottom half, the Rays clawed back. David DeJesus hit a 2-2 slider to center to tie the score.
That set the stage for the 12th. With lefty Joseph Ortiz on the mound and Neftali Feliz warming up, right-handed hitter Desmond Jennings came to the plate. Washington decided to stick with Ortiz, thinking his changeup would be crucial in the at-bat. Jennings, though, singled to give the Rays the victory.
Texas ended up winning the next night to claim the season series from the Rays, giving the Rangers the home game in Game 163. But at the end of the year as they glanced back to the previous few weeks, it was that loss that stuck with him.