ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers didn’t leave runners on base Friday night against the Detroit Tigers.
They left them for dead.
Texas went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, killing any chance of putting anything together offensively as the Tigers doubled up the Rangers 2-1.
“You saw two pretty good pitching performances and they scored one more than we did,” said designated hitter Lance Berkman, who had two of the eight Texas hits. “I wasn’t frustrated. I think we’ve done a pretty good job. Any time you lose a game like this everybody immediately goes to the missed opportunities, but we gave ourselves opportunities so there’s a positive in that. You’re not going to get it done every time, especially against a tough team with good pitching.”
The Rangers had numerous opportunities against Rick Porcello, who came into the game with a 6.68 ERA on the season and a 7.83 mark in his career against Texas.
But the Rangers stranded a runner at second in the first inning, at third in the third and then Nelson Cruz hit into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corner in the fourth. After finally touching Porcello for a run in the fifth on a Geovany Soto homer, the Rangers once again stranded runners at first and third in the sixth.
Add another double-play grounder by Cruz with runners on the corners to end the eighth and that about sums up the offense for Texas Friday.
“That’s where you want to be and when you want the lead,” said Cruz, who hit into two double plays in the same game for just the second time in his career. “There’s nothing I can do. It’s done. Tomorrow if I’ve got the chance I’ll try to get the job done again.”
Even though the Rangers came into the game on a three-game winning streak, they have struggled in the clutch recently. Texas is now hitting .219 with runners in scoring position over its last 13 games.
In the past, Porcello has been the cure for whatever has ailed the Texas offense. Four of the Texas starters came into the game with batting averages of .350 or better against Porcello but he allowed just five hits in 5 2/3 innings but keeping the ball down and working inside.
“He was about as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Texas manager Ron Washington said of Porcello. “He loaded the strike zone up with all kinds of pitches, changeups, sinkers, splits, breaking balls. I mean, we worked him pretty good, you know he made pitches in situations when he had to. When we had opportunities, he made a pitch. We just didn’t deliver.”
Despite Porcello’s outing, the Rangers were just one swing away because rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch worked in and out of trouble in his five innings.
Detroit had baserunners against him in each of the first four innings but was unable to score. That changed in the fifth when Miguel Cabrera, who was 3-for-3 vs. Tepesch, scorched an RBI double off the wall in left. A sacrifice fly by Alex Avila three batters later proved to be all the offense the Tigers would need.
Tepesch (3-4) threw 96 pitches in his five innings, allowing six hits and walking three. But he kept the Rangers in the game long enough for the offense to try and get going.
“They definitely have a good lineup,” said Tepesch. “It was pretty good for the most part. I made a few bad pitches but stuck to the game plan. I just didn’t really get a quick inning. There were a lot of guys on base, trying to work out of that and it led to a lot of long innings.”
Unfortunately for the Rangers, who outhit the Tigers 8-6, the long innings they had didn’t amount to much at the plate.