ARLINGTON, Texas – Friday wasn’t a good day for the Texas Rangers.
It started with the Los Angeles Angels acquiring coveted right-hander Zack Greinke in their bid to track down the Rangers in the American League West.
The ballgame that followed against the Chicago White Sox did nothing to change the tone of the day. In fact, it made things worse.
Yu Darvish lost his first professional game when he received four runs of offensive support behind him and Josh Hamilton’s struggles continued as he was booed by some of the home fans in a 9-5 loss to the White Sox.
Darvish wasn’t awful and Hamilton had two RBIs to move back into a share of the AL lead with 83. But too many mistakes by hitters, pitchers and fielders left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths following the loss.
It didn’t start that way as the Rangers were leading 4-1 after one inning against Chicago ace Chris Sale. It was all downhill after that though as Chicago rapped out 10 hits, took advantage of five walks, two errors, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a hit batter.
“I felt like we let him (Sale) get away especially when we came back in the bottom of the first and put up four runs,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I felt like with Yu out there that we’ll make it stand up until we could get on him again. After that inning he (Sale) put up some zeroes. We had some chances. We just didn’t come through with some base hits.”
The 4-1 lead seemed good enough as Darvish was 59-0 for his pro career when he had at least four runs of offensive support, including 10-0 this season with the Rangers. But he allowed a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis in the second and then Chicago took the lead for good on a two-run single from Alejandro De Aza in the fourth inning, making it a 5-4 game.
While the White Sox were rolling, the Rangers began to go quietly. Just not the Texas fans, who directed their ire at Hamilton.
Hamilton had a sacrifice fly in a four-run first that was keyed by a three-run homer from Nelson Cruz. But Hamilton, who lost a fly ball in the sun in the first inning and had a poor throw in on a double later, struck out swinging in the third and fifth innings. He had another RBI on a grounder in the seventh inning but that came with the bases loaded and the Rangers down by two runs.
He finished the night 0 for 4 and his average is at .287 as he’s in a 7 for 59 slump and hitting just over .200 over the last 55 games. Some fans began booing baseball’s leading All-Star vote getter on the missed fly ball but the boos picked up steam after his at-bats.
And even though most of the 47,638 at Rangers Ballpark cheered Hamilton, he could hear the boos.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” he said. “I noticed but it’s all about what have you done for me lately, no matter who you are. That’s what it is. There’s more fans that are still cheering and encouraging me. I’ll pray for the ones that are (booing). I appreciate the support from the other ones. It’s disappointing. I’ll leave it at that.”
So will his teammates.
“That’s the fans’ business,” Michael Young said. “Obviously we have a ton of faith in Josh. Josh has done a great job for this team. Fans are able to do what they want to do.”
Hamilton wasn’t the lone Ranger to struggle. Texas left eight runners on base and was just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. From the fifth inning on, the Rangers left eight runners on, including two in the fifth and leaving them loaded in the seventh.
After Hamilton’s grounder in the seventh cut the Chicago lead to 6-5, Adrian Beltre walked to load the bases. But Nate Jones got Young to line out to end that threat.
Chicago blew the game open in the ninth, scoring three times off Alexi Ogando. Ogando pitched 2 2/3 innings, which was his second-longest out of the season. Washington said the Rangers were trying to stretch Ogando out. It worked until the ninth.
Darvish (11-7) may have kept Texas close, but he wasn’t sharp. He walked three and allowed eight hits. The Youkilis homer was a killer.
“He threw a pitcher to Youkilis right down the middle on a 0-2 count,” said Washington.
Darvish thought that at-bat changed things too.
“The team goes out and giving me a lead, two outs, two strikes and giving up that home run, that’s something that was very unfortunate,” Darvish said. “That was a very big part of the game, a big unfortunate event in the game.”