Rangers slide continues

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, September 14th, 2013

kinslerslide

By Dic Humphrey

ARLINGTON – Friday night in the most crucial series of the year, the Rangers looked lethargic and unenergetic early as they fell behind 9-2 over the first seven innings.  They made a heroic come back in the eighth inning to pull within a run, but ended up losing 9-8 to Oakland, who extended their lead in the West to 4.5 games with 16 left to play.  Oakland scored early and often, amassing a 14 hit attack that included three home runs.  The win was Oakland’s sixth in the last seven games, and 14th in their last 18 games.  They are putting the pedal to the metal when it counts in September.  Friday’s win assured the A’s of not being swept in the series, and Texas can crawl no closer to first place than 2.5 games by Monday.

The Athletics got off to a good start when three of the first four batters they sent to the plate scored on Yeonis Cespedes’ 23rd home run, which came on an 0-2 count.  Coco Crisp and Josh Donaldson were on base with a single and walk in front of Cespedes round tripper.

Texas came right back with two runs of their own in the first to make it a one run game.  Oakland’s Dan Straily walked the first two batters, both of whom scored – Ian Kinsler on an Adrian Beltre single and Elvis Andrus on A. J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly.

However, Oakland’s Josh Donaldson homered in the third inning to extend Oakland’s lead to 4-2.  When the first two Oakland batters singled to open the fourth inning, Rangers’ starting pitcher Derek Holland was out.  Three plus innings is his shortest outing of the year, and a Donaldson double off reliever Nick Tepesch drove in both runners that Holland left behind.  The six runs allowed increased Holland’s ERA to 3.40 for the season.  The loss was his eighth against nine wins.

It was Holland’s fourth poor start in a row.  He has not won in his last seven starts, has won just once since the All-Star break, and has not won in Arlington since May 31.  Theoretically, Holland and Darvish are the top two pitchers in the Rangers’ rotation, but the team is 2-9 in the 11 games this pair has started since August 13, which is a large reason why the Rangers have gone from a one game lead on that date to a 4.5 game deficit today.

Oakland added a pair of runs off Tepesch in the fifth inning, and Brandon Moss hit a solo home run off Ross Wolf in the sixth to complete the Athletics’ scoring.
The Rangers however came back in the eighth inning with a most improbable rally, plating six runs on four hits, after scoring just two runs on two hits in the first seven innings.  With the bases loaded, Leonys Martin hit an infield single, and Ian Kinsler walked to bring home the first two.  Elvis Andrus singled to right field plating two more.  A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position, and Alex Rios singled them home to bring the Rangers within a run of tying a game that looked long lost.

However, the rally ended on a poor base running play.  Rios was thrown out trying to advance from first to third on a single.  With two outs, there is little to be gained from advancing to third as opposed to staying on second, and the out took away the opportunity for A. J. Pierzynski to bat with the tying run in scoring position.  Rios argued the call so vehemently that he was ejected by third base umpire Andy Fletcher.  In the top of the ninth, Matt Garza was also ejected by Joe West after expressing his displeasure with the call from the Rangers’ bench.

In the ninth inning, Sean Doolittle struck out the first two batters, before Robinson Chirinos doubled to put the tying run on second base.  Doolittle however struck out Jurickson Profar to end the game and earn his second save.

Oakland’s Dan Straily completed 5-2/3rds innings, allowing two runs on two hits.  He earned the win, his tenth against seven losses.  He became the fifth Oakland pitcher to reach a double digit win total this season.

Manager Ron Washington revealed in his pre-game show that he held a team meeting last Sunday after the Rangers lost to the Angels.  Twice previously, the team reacted positively to a team meeting held when the team was struggling.  This time though the magic is apparently gone.  The Rangers are now 0-4 since the meeting.

With the West Division championship fading out of the picture, a Wild Card playoff berth, which looked fairly secure a week ago, looks very tenuous.  Texas still leads in the number one Wild Card slot, but Tampa Bay won Friday to creep within a game of the Rangers.  Texas and the Rays square off four times next week in St. Petersburg.  Cleveland also won Friday to pull within 2.5 games of Texas.  The Tribe is not to be taken lightly as their remaining schedule is the most favorable among the Wild Card candidates.  The Yankees lost and Baltimore won.

They are tied, trailing Tampa Bay by two games.  Even Kansas City has a chance to slip into one of the two Wild Card berths.  Boston, Detroit, and Oakland may be all but crowned as division champions, but it will be a topsy-turvy couple of weeks for the final two playoff spots.

This series continues Saturday at 12:05 PM with Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84) scheduled to pitch for Texas against Oakland’s Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85).  Sunday’s game starts at 2:05 PM, and the matchups are Martin Perez (9-4, 3.60) verses Jarrod Parker (11-6, 3.55).

NOTES: Texas is 29-50 this season when their opponent scores first.  After Friday’s scoring, the Rangers have scored 44 first inning runs and have allowed 75.
The Rangers are 23-15 all time on Friday the 13th. … The joy of September baseball!  With expanded rosters, the Athletics and Rangers each used seven pitchers, and 42 players appeared for both teams combined.  … The time of the game was 4:09.  It was the fourth longest nine inning game in Ranger history.  … Friday’s paid attendance was 40,180, bringing the Rangers’ home total to 2,794,968 for the season, an average of 38,819 per game.

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