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Friday, April 4, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Rays 8, Rangers 1

By Chris Girandola
Special to ESPNDallas.com


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Texas Rangers came to Florida riding a comeback-high after winning two contests against the Philadelphia Phillies with late-inning dramatics.

There would be no third lucky charm against the Tampa Bay Rays, as the Rangers again failed to score early and opened the three-game series at Tropicana Field with an 8-1 loss.

Nothing to show: The Rangers saw four batters hit the ball hard in the fourth inning and failed to score a run. Down 4-0 against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, the Rangers looked to be starting a rally when Prince Fielder sliced a liner to left to start the inning. Adrian Beltre then ripped a line drive to center that Desmond Jennings caught. Alex Rios followed with a single to right. Then the fun began when Mitch Moreland rapped a fastball from the Rays rookie to the corner in right. With Wil Myers tracking the ball down, Fielder paused coming around third from second, then started back to third, then changed his mind and attempted to score. A rundown ensued, and Fielder eventually was tagged out. After Rios had advanced to third and Moreland had moved up to second on the play, the Rangers still had a chance to put a dent in Odorizzi's armor, but Donnie Murphy struck out.

Blunder ball: The Rangers did not fare well in the field, either, ending the game with four errors. A bobble by Elvis Andrus on a grounder to him at short allowed Ben Zobrist to reach first to start the third. A few batters later, Sean Rodriguez blasted a three-run shot to left off Joe Saunders to give the Rays a 4-0 lead. With a runner on in the fifth, the Rays' Brandon Guyer hit a short pop fly just beyond the dirt along the first-base line. Fielder settled under it only to see it pop out of his glove in foul ground. Guyer then hit a grounder to Beltre at third, but Beltre mishandled it, allowing Guyer to reach. Daniel McCutchen then surrendered a three-run homer to Ryan Hanigan. Beltre later picked up his second error of the game on a bad throw to first on a grounder by Rodriguez. This time, it did not result in a run.

Waiting for Yu: With a string of injuries on the starting rotation, Yu Darvish's scheduled return to the mound Sunday will be gladly welcomed. In the meantime, Texas fans will have to manage their expectations of the Rangers starters. Saunders had another ugly game against Tampa Bay. Entering the contest with a 8.40 ERA in three starts versus the Rays, the left-hander's career numbers continued to climb after he failed to get through four innings. Saunders allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in 3 2/3 innings, tossing 89 pitches, just 48 for strikes. Saunders' night came to an end in an unfortunate fashion, though, when he was struck in the left ankle on a comeback line drive by Evan Longoria. Fortunately, X-rays were negative and Saunders was left with a bruise.

The drought ends: Fielder picked up his first RBI in 20 games -- since Sept. 22, 2013 -- when he singled home Andrus from second base in the eighth inning. Fielder had gone a combined 20 regular and postseason contests over the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.

Top-10 material: Leonys Martin made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning on a deep line drive to the wall by Zobrist.

Un-welcome back: McCutchen's first major league appearance since Aug. 21, 2012, did not go well. After having his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock, the 31-year-old righty allowed the three-run blast to Hannigan that gave the Rays an 8-0 lead in the fifth.

Three's a charm: Guyer flied out to Fielder three out of four times. It could have been four times if Fielder had caught the foul fly in the fifth.

Up next: The Rangers play the second of three games against the Rays on Saturday at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Nick Martinez will opposed Tampa lefty David Price in the 6:10 p.m. CT start.