The Rangers missed out on a sweep of the Kansas City Royals today thanks to two errors in the bottom of the 10th inning, horrible pitching from Derek Holland, poor managing, and the failure of the offense to capitalize on chances to break the game open.
Derek Holland blew a 5-2 lead by allowing homeruns to Jeff Francoeur and Brayan Pena. Pena’s homerun was only his second of the season. Holland has been incredibly prone to allowing homeruns. He’s given up 21 homeruns on the season, which ranks him 5th in the American League (which is on the bad end of the rankings).
But the Rangers battled back to tie the game in the 7th thanks to a Michael Young RBI double. Young’s double scored a run, and also should have left runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Instead, in what was one of the Rangers’ many mistakes, Elvis Andrus ran through a stop sign from 3rd base coach Dave Anderson and was easily thrown out at the plate.
This was just the start of the Rangers troubles. In the 9th, with no outs and rookie Mike Olt on third, AND THE HEART OF THE LINEUP COMING UP, Ron Washington called an ill-advised squeeze play. The pitch was in the dirt, away, and Elvis Andrus couldn’t get a piece of it. Olt was tagged out effortlessly, eliminating a runner in scoring position. I have no idea why Wash would call a squeeze in this situation. There were no outs and baring disaster (which is what Wash created by calling a squeeze), after Elvis, the Rangers had Michael Young (who had doubled in his previous at-bat), Josh Hamilton (who had also doubled), and Adrian Beltre (who was 2 for 3 with a double) coming up. All they needed was a sacrifice fly or a grounder to the right side from just one of those batters and the Rangers would have the lead.
Then in the 10th, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out, but came up fruitless. Mitch Moreland was robbed by a diving catch from shortstop Alcides Escobar, and Olt struck out swinging, ending the threat.
That brought up the bottom of the 10th and Mike Olt’s problems got worse. But before we get to that, in the bottom of the 9th, Ron Washington had replaced Elvis Andrus with Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop. The top of the 10th started with Mike Adams walking Billy Butler. Then, Salvador Perez grounded to short in what should have been an easy double-play. But, defensive substitute Gonzalez booted the ball leaving runners safe at 1st and 2nd. The next batter, Jeff Francoeur hit another routine grounder to 3rd, which should have been another easy double-play, but Olt threw the ball wide of second, into right field, allowing Eric Hosmer (who had pinch-run for Butler) to score easily from 2nd, with the walk-off win.
It was a sloppy game all around. The pitching was bad, the offense had opportunities they couldn’t capitalize on, the managing was questionable, and the defense ultimately blew it. You’re going to have these games from time-to-time, but you shouldn’t have them against a team as poor as the Royals. There’s no reason the Rangers should have given a game away like that to that caliber of opponent. This may be one they look back and wish they hadn’t blown.
The Rangers are now 63-44, but everyone in the AL West lost today, so they did not lose any ground to the Athletics or the Angels. They start a three game series tomorrow at Boston. Yu Darvish will pitch against Aaron Cook. Both starters have been struggling. Cook has lost his last 3 starts with a 9.00 ERA over that stretch. Darvish has given up 12 runs in his last two starts and allowed 9 walks. His control has been a problem all season and he looks to fix this with a good game against a Red Sox team who is 4th in the AL East.