Texas Rangers: Salvador Perez
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Michael Young snapped a tie with a run-scoring single in the 10th inning to lift the Rangers to a 5-4 victory over the Royals on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. Young’s hit came after a leadoff triple by Ian Kinsler off Royals closer Greg Holland.
What it means: The Rangers, 82-55, moved 27 games over .500 for the first time this year and 5 ½ games ahead of Oakland in the American League West. By taking three of four in Kansas City, the Rangers have won their last six series.
Strategy foiled: Manager Ron Washington played the percentages in the seventh inning when he lifted starter Scott Feldman for lefty Michael Kirkman with lefty-hitting Eric Hosmer at the plate and Texas leading by one. Hosmer foiled the strategy with a homer to left-center that tied the game at 4-4 and ended Feldman’s chance of getting a win for the first time since Aug. 4. Nevertheless, Feldman can reflect on a positive outing. He allowed six hits and three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Twice as nice: Back-to-back homers are becoming standard operating procedure for the Rangers. They did it again Thursday, with Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre going back-to-back in the fourth inning. It’s the ninth time this year that Texas has had back-to-back homers and the second time in the Kansas City series. On Monday, Beltre and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back.
Select company: When Beltre hit his 30th homer Thursday, it marked the second consecutive year in which he has hit reached that plateau. Beltre, 33, joins a short list of players who posted back-to-back seasons with 30 homers or more at 32 or older. That list includes Harmon Killebrew, Mike Schmidt and Alex Rodriguez.
Royal defense: When they face the Royals next year, the Rangers may be somewhat leery about taking daring leads. That’s because Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez has made an impression in this series with his throwing ability. Perez picked off Kinsler at third Tuesday night and picked off Craig Gentry at first Thursday. Perez leads the Major Leagues in pickoffs with four this season. Kansas City used more good defense to thwart the Rangers in the eighth. With two on and two out, Cruz hit a liner to deep center, but Lorenzo Cain raced back for a lunging catch to take away two RBIs from Cruz. In the ninth, Hosmer leaned over the first base railing for an acrobatic grab of Geovany Soto’s foul popup.
Soto delivers: Soto doesn’t have a high batting average, but he came through with some big hits at the start and finish of the series. Soto got Texas off and running with a three-run homer in the series opener and blasted a go-ahead RBI double off Luke Hochevar in the seventh inning of the series finale. The Rangers can only hope it’s a glimpse of things to come.
Left-hander Matt Harrison has been a huge part of the Rangers’ success this year, but he’ll be looking to atone for two subpar outings in a row when he makes his next start. Harrison lasted just 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night against the Royals. He ran out of steam in the fifth when the Royals used a two-run homer from Alex Gordon and an RBI double by Salvador Perez as a springboard to a 6-3 victory.
Harrison’s big problem was pitch efficiency. He needed 102 pitches to record 14 outs.
“I was doing everything I could to make them put it in play and they just wouldn’t,” Harrison said. “I tip my hat to them.”
Harrison was hopeful of a strong outing after he allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs in his previous start at Tampa Bay.
“It was a struggle in the last game, but I felt good coming into today,” Harrison said. “But I threw 80 pitches in four innings. Not a lot of good things happen when you do that.”
In the fifth, Harrison said he “made some mistakes up in the zone.”
Gordon’s homer was launched to straightaway center and gave Kansas City a 4-2 lead.
“The ball cut back over the middle of the plate,” Harrison said. “I was trying to go back in with a two-seamer.”
Harrison failed to go five innings for just the third time in 27 starts.
“He got two outs in the fourth, but just couldn’t get that third one,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They fouled off a lot of pitches and he was a little bit inconsistent in the strike zone. He’d get 3-2 counts on a lot of hitters and they’d continue to foul balls off. He continued to make pitches, but in that fifth inning he couldn’t shut it down.”
The Rangers experienced that momentum shift to the downside in the third inning Tuesday night when Ian Kinsler was picked off third base in a 6-3 loss to the Royals. It happened, Kinsler said, because he failed to note the positioning of third baseman Mike Moustakas with Josh Hamilton at the plate and one out.
“Normally, when Josh is up, the third baseman is pretty far off,” Kinsler said. “But I didn’t check where he was at. I got caught.”
The Rangers led 2-0 and seemed primed for more when Kinsler led off the third with a double and went to third on Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice bunt. With Hamilton at the plate, the Rangers were anxious to tack on at least one more run for starter Matt Harrison.
But the Royals had the infield in and Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez made a snap throw to third, picking off Kinsler. From that point on, it was all Royals. Kansas City got two in the third and roared away to even the series at one game apiece.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said it was a fundamental breakdown that allowed the Royals to execute the pickoff at third.
“Infield in, you’re making the ball go through,” Washington said. “Don’t square up your shoulders. He (Kinsler) squared up his shoulders and couldn’t get around.”
Washington said a sideways position would have allowed Kinsler to get back to the bag.
Once Kansas City grabbed the momentum, the Rangers didn’t have any answers offensively or in the pitching department.
“With Hamilton up there and Kinsler on third base with less than two outs, I’m thinking we’re going to get the run,” Washington said. “But you don’t know if you are or not. They outplayed us. They played better than we did tonight.”
After a slow start, Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie came on strong. Guthrie went seven innings, allowing just five hits and two runs. Harrison labored through 4 2/3 innings. He needed 102 pitches to get 14 outs.
“Once Guthrie got to a tie ballgame, he just put up zeroes the rest of the way,” Washington said.
The Rangers, 80-55, will put Tuesday’s loss behind them and look ahead.
“We didn’t play our best ball,” Kinsler said. “We’ll come back (Wednesday) and get back after it.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers couldn’t hold an early two-run lead and fell 6-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
What it means: The four-game series is tied at 1-1 and the Rangers are back to 25 games over .500 at 80-55. Texas had reached a season-high 26 games over .500 with its win in Kansas City on Monday. The Rangers’ record after 135 games equals the best in franchise history. Texas was also 80-55 in 1999.
Long gone: After watching the Rangers blast five homers Monday, shortstop Elvis Andrus got in on the power show. Andrus, who entered Tuesday’s game with two homers in 523 at-bats, connected for a solo shot off Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning. The Andrus homer to left came after he had homered just once in the previous 123 games.
Momentum shifts: Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez is known for his throwing ability and when he picked Ian Kinsler off third base in the third inning, it was a big momentum play for the Royals. Texas had already built a 2-0 lead and had Kinsler at third with one out after a Kinsler double and an Andrus sacrifice bunt. Perez caught Kinsler straying too far down the line and the pickoff -- with Josh Hamilton at the plate -- gave the Royals a boost. Kansas City promptly scored twice in the third and was on its way. Perez now has three pickoffs, the most by any Major League catcher.
Early exit: Left-hander Matt Harrison has failed to make it deep into the game two starts in a row. After lasting just 5 1/3 innings last Wednesday versus Tampa Bay, Harrison went 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. He allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned). Harrison gave up a two-run homer to lefty-hitting Alex Gordon, snapping a fifth-inning tie.
Close call: A bang-bang play at the plate in the third inning went Kansas City’s way and brought manager Ron Washington out of the dugout. With Alcides Escobar at third and one out, Billy Butler flied to center and Hamilton made a strong throw home as Escobar tagged. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale ruled that Escobar eluded the tag of Geovany Soto and Soto protested before Washington came out to have his say. The Butler sacrifice fly made it a 2-2 game.
Up next: RHP Ryan Dempster (9-6, 2.87 NL/AL) will try to give the Rangers the series lead Wednesday when he opposes Kansas City left-hander Everett Teaford.
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
RF Nelson Cruz
DH Michael Young
LF David Murphy
C Geovany Soto
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Lorenzo Cain
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Alex Gordon
1B Billy Butler
C Salvador Perez
RF Jeff Francoeur
3B Mike Moustakas
DH Tony Abreu
2B Johnny Giavotella
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