Texas Rangers: Hanley Ramirez
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers starter Derek Holland gave up five runs and couldn't get out of the first inning, and the club had some defensive breakdowns in a 9-5 loss. They did battle back with home runs but couldn't completely dig out of the early hole. Some quick thoughts (more to come from the clubhouse):
* Holland became the first Rangers pitcher to have a start of less than an inning without an injury or ejection causing the early exit since Brandon McCarthy on Sept. 11, 2007 against Detroit. That one was also two-thirds of an inning. It was the shorest outing of Holland's career. He lasted just one inning in Minnesota last May, but that was because of injury.
* Holland was throwing primarily fastballs -- 26 of his first 30 pitches were fastballs -- and wasn't locating them well. It wasn't until after Hanley Ramirez's grand slam that Holland started trying to throw more changeups and curve balls. But none of it was consistent. He gave up five runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout and left after a long chat with manager Ron Washington. He fell behind in the count and then when he tried to find the strike zone, he threw some over the middle of the plate where the Marlins could hit it.
* The short outing forced Washington to put Tommy Hunter in the game because the club was working today's game without many other long-relief options. Dave Bush was DFA'd Friday to get Hunter on the roster and Michael Kirkman, who pitched last night, was optioned to Triple-A before Saturday's game when Darren O'Day was activated. So despite pitching the ninth in his last minor-league outing, Hunter was out there in the first inning Saturday.
And his 2011 debut was a good one. Hunter helped save part of the bullpen by going into the sixth inning. He took a ball off his right foot that turned into an infield hit for Emilio Bonifacio. He allowed two runs, one unearned. The earned run was after Hunter's only walk. He left the game with the bases loaded and the run scored on a sacrifice fly off a pitch from O'Day. The Rangers confirmed during the game that Hunter was fine. No issue with the ball off his foot.
* O'Day didn't have the kind of first outing back he'd hoped. He gave up back-to-back homers to Ramirez and Logan Morrison in the seventh, just after the Rangers had closed the gap to two runs. O'Day left two pitches up and both hitters made him pay for it.
* For the second time this season, catcher Yorvit Torrealba had two errors in one inning. He did it thanks in part to fatigue and dehydration in Atlanta a few weeks ago. He did it again in the second inning Saturday because of two throws. He was charged with an errant throw to first on a bunt hit attempt and then on a bouncer to second as the runner stole the base (runner was credited with stolen base, went to third on E2). In fairness, the second error was more a product of shortstop Elvis Andrus, who needed to block the throw better knowing it wasn't going to get there in time anyway.
* The Rangers' defense had a tough night. Besides the errors, the club didn't execute a rundown well in the third. Hunter snagged a hard-hit ball back to the mound but then immediately threw to Adrian Beltre at third to start a rundown with the runner at second. But if Hunter runs at the runner, he forces the runner at first to think twice about getting to second. Instead, the lead runner (Morrison) was able to stay in the rundown long enough for Mike Stanton to get to second. It didn't end up costing the Rangers a run, but it's another example of the defense not executing things properly.
* The Rangers bats got going some in the third. Solo home runs by Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton cut into the Marlins' six-run lead. Kinsler now has 12 homers on the year, three more than all of last season. Kinsler has hit four homers in his last five games after hitting just three in the previous 55 games.
* Hamilton hit his second homer of the night and his 10th of the season in the fifth. That homer was an opposite-field shot to left, going 370 feet. It was the fourth multi-homer game of his career and his first since Sept. 2009 (vs. Toronto). It was also the fourth multi-homer game by a Ranger this season. The two-run shot cut the deficit to 6-4.
* Craig Gentry stole second base in the sixth. He later scored on dropped popup off the bat of Kinsler. Gentry is 10-for-10 on stolen bases this season. Kinsler ended up only at first base, thinking the ball would be caught. He ended up stealing second with two outs and Andrus at the plate. It appeared the ball came out of Ramirez's glove, but it never actually went in his glove. Umpire called out and then safe (but Kinsler was never really out to begin with).
* Mitch Moreland has struggled lately. He was 0-for-4 Saturday and is 5-for-34 in his last 10 games.
Q: Can you give us an overall assessment of the Marlins? Why did they struggle so much in June?
JC: The Marlins went 5-23 in June -- the worst month in franchise history -- for a variety of reasons. The main culprit was offense. They struggled earlier to hit with runners in scoring position, which is why John Mallee was fired in early June. That firing stunned players, which I think was the reason they continued their tailspin.
Q: How have players reacted to the managerial change?
JC: Manager Jack McKeon has been a positive slap in the face to a team that was often coddled by mild-mannered Edwin Rodriguez. While players were not happy with Mallee's firing, they have come around in the last week and praised McKeon for his old-school approach.
Q: What's the latest on Josh Johnson? Any idea when he might return? Would the Marlins entertain trading him?
JC: Josh Johnson's absence also factors into the June swoon. The starters are 8-17 since his last start. And now he has been pushed back because of shoulder soreness. They hoped he'd return July 16; now it's looking more like August. I do not think they will trade him. They consider him a franchise marquee face.
Q: Who is the offensive MVP of the club so far this season? Who's the best pitcher?
JC: Gaby Sanchez is the offensive MVP (even though he had a rough June) and Anibal Sanchez is their new ace.
Q: Give us a quick scouting report on the starters we'll see this weekend in Arlington.
JC: You will see Anibal on Friday. This is his second injury-free season -- he was bothered by shoulder issues most of his caeer up until last year -- and the results are paying off. He has allowed four earned runs over his three starts.
Javier Vazquez (Sunday) has been on a nice roll, with an ERA around 1.00 over his last three starts. Nice bounce back for a guy who looked horrible up until June.
The Marlins will call up a minor league pitcher to start Saturday -- either Double-A LHP Brad Hand or Triple-A righty Elih Villanueva. Both were up earlier and both got hit around, although Hand was effective in his first start.
Q: Who's been the biggest surprise this season? The biggest disappointment?
JC: Biggest disappointment is Hanley Ramirez (.221, 5 HR, 24 RBIs). Biggest surprise is probably Greg Dobbs who is htting .300 and playing more often than he has at any point in his career. He was supposed to be a bench player but has gotten lots of playing time, mainly plugging in a hole at 3B.
In a game dominated by the starting pitchers, it was catcher Matt Treanor who made the biggest impact ... once he got off the bench with the Rangers down to their last out Tuesday.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, runners at the corners and the Marlins leading 2-1, Treanor pinch hit and sent the first pitch he saw from closer Leo Nunez deep to center for a two-run triple and a 3-2 Rangers lead.
Neftali Feliz pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for his 16th save.
How unlikely were Treanor's heroics? It was his third triple in 861 career at-bats. His last triple came in 2007 when he played for Florida, the team with which he started his major league career. He played for the Marlins from 2004 to '08.
Starters C.J. Wilson and Josh Johnson locked in a duel that Johnson appeared to be getting the best of.
The Rangers got to Johnson with three singles and a run in the first inning, but he gave up only one more hit over the next six innings.
Wilson took a one-hitter into the sixth but struggled with his control. That caught up to him when he walked a batter with one out in the sixth then allowed a two-run homer to Hanley Ramirez. Wilson finished with two runs on two hits with six walks and six strikeouts in six innings.
He was on the hook for the loss until Treanor saved the day. Reliever Alexi Ogando, with a scoreless eighth in his major league debut, got the victory.
Rangers third baseman Michael Young, one hit from tying Ivan Rodriguez for the all-time franchise record, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Young gets his next shot at the record Wednesday against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, whom he's never faced.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.