ARLINGTON, Texas – If you’re looking for a highlight to describe July for the Texas Rangers all you have to is watch one play in the top of the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game.
It was on that play that a fly ball that would have put an end to an already bad inning hit off the glove of right fielder Alex Rios. It then plunked centerfielder Leonys Martin in the head, allowing the final run of a seven-run inning to score on the three-base gaffe.
The good news for the 2014 Rangers is that at least no one was injured on the play.
The bad news is that play helped dig a hole that the Rangers were never able to get out despite their best efforts. J.P. Arencibia’s two homer, four extra-base hit, seven RBI night gave the Rangers a chance but a Texas rally died at the warning track on an Adrian Beltre fly ball in a 12-11 loss.
While the Rangers rallied from huge deficits twice behind the first grand slam of the year for the Rangers (by Arencibia in the seventh inning), it wasn’t enough to help Texas secure a two game winning streak. Instead the Rangers are now assured of playing the month without winning back-to-back games once.
That’s right. The longest winning streak for the Rangers this month will be one game for a club that dropped to 5-20 this month.
But at least they had a chance to push that number to two Tuesday, scoring twice in the ninth and loading the bases before Beltre flew out to left to end the game.
"We didn’t quit," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We kept fighting. We could have very easily laid down but we didn’t. We just kept going. When you keep believing good things happen and we were one thing away from winning that ballgame. If look into the sixth inning I don’t think there were many people that thought we had a chance."
Texas had everything working early. Nick Martinez was dazzling through five innings, allowing just one run to the white-hot Brett Gardner on a solo homer. The suddenly resurgent Arencibia was making all his Triple A training look good with a two-run double and a solo homer helping stake the Rangers to a 4-1 lead.
And then the sixth inning happened, when the Rangers went from looking like winning-streak bound to looking like a team with the worst record in baseball once again.
Martinez allowed hits to three of the first five batters of the inning and walked another. Carlos Beltran’s RBI single made it 4-3 and then Brian McCann tied the game with a sacrifice fly. With the Rangers needing just one more out to send the game to the bottom of the sixth tied, it wouldn’t come for five more batters.
Martinez’ night ended after a walk and then Shawn Tolleson allowed back-to-back hits before Gardner came back up to the plate. That’s when his flyball to right should have been caught by Rios, who nearly collided with Martin. The ball wound up squirting left off Martin’s head as Brendan Ryan crossed the plate.
Martin said he didn’t hear Rios call for the ball and blamed the play on bad communication. Washington said that gaffe didn’t cost the Rangers the game, but just one run.
More runs followed. The Yankees added three more in the seventh and then blunted Arencibia’s slam with a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira in the eighth.
Texas tried to get win No. 6 of July with a run in the eighth and then two more in the ninth. Of course it wasn’t enough but at least they had a chance.
"Unfortunately we were one-run short tonight," said Arencibia, who became the first seven-RBI Ranger since Nelson Cruz on May 25, 2012. "I had a good game. I’ve felt good and confident and made adjustments in Triple A. Tonight it was a testament to the work down there but I want to help my team win. It didn’t happen."
The Rangers need a win Wednesday to match the six wins accrued by the club in August of 1973. The only full month in franchise history in which the Rangers had fewer than five wins was in September of 1972 when they went 3-23.