Strike three eludes Rangers in loss to Mariners

ARLINGTON, Texas — The 0-2 bugaboo cost the Texas Rangers Wednesday night.

If Derek Holland could have put away either Seattle’s Justin Smoak or Mike Zunino after getting ahead 0-2 in the sixth inning, maybe the end result would have been different. The same goes for Robbie Ross, who jumped out 0-2 to Michael Saunders with two outs in the 10th inning.

Instead all three ended up reaching in pivotal at-bats and set the stage for a 4-2 loss in 10 innings for the Rangers. Texas is now a major-league worst 1-6 in extra-inning games and has lost its last five bonus-baseball affairs.

Ross’ walk to Saunders set the stage for Kyle Seager’s homer to right, giving the Mariners back-to-back wins and snapping the Rangers’ series winning streak at four.

“It happens,” Ross said. “You get 0-2 and you’re ahead and you try to get them out the easiest way you can. You’re trying to throw a pitch that you can get a fly ball, a ground ball or strike him out with. Sometimes you might get a little too fine. Sometimes it might be where you can’t lock back in and get a strike.”

That happened to both Holland and Ross, denying the Rangers a chance to beat Felix Hernandez after the Rangers got a pair of fifth inning homers from David Murphy and Ian Kinsler to take a 2-1 lead for Holland.
But Holland couldn’t make it stand up. With one out and runners on first and second, Holland got ahead Smoak 0-2 but Smoak ended up working a walk to load the bases.

Holland struck out Dustin Ackley for the second out and then got ahead of Mike Zunino 0-2. But Zunino, who struck out in his first two at-bats, got the count to full and then hit an infielder grounder that Adrian Beltre couldn’t come up with cleanly, allowing Raul Ibanez to score the game-tying run.

Holland ended the inning with his 10th strikeout but the damage had already been done and Holland pointed the finger for the frame at himself.

“I just didn’t make a good enough pitch,” said Holland, who allowed a leadoff homer to Jason Bay in the first but settled down quickly. “I was pitching around too many guys trying to nitpick. I should have continued doing what I was doing before. The last inning was the big killer for me. I was expanding too much when I should have continued to do what I did.”
The Zunino at-bat was especially frustrating.

“If I make a better pitch different results happen,” he said. “I was 0-2 and I let that get away from him. I had it put away and I let it get away. That’s the bad part.”

The Rangers didn’t have to settle for the two solo homers in the sixth but they never could come up with another big hit. Texas was 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 17 so far in the series.

After the Mariners tied the game, Adrian Beltre doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth but Hernandez got a pair of strikeouts and a fly ball to end that threat. Elvis Andrus hit into a double play to end the seventh and the Rangers managed just one hit over the final three innings.

“We had our opportunities and the bottom line is in the end, they took advantage of the opportunity they had to win it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “All you can do when you’re facing good pitching is take advantage of the opportunities you have. As I said, we had it. We just didn’t take advantage of it.”