Rangers bullpen blows late leads in loss to Indians
ARLINGTON, Texas – You won’t hear it from manager Jeff Banister, but there’s a word to describe how the Rangers feel about the performance of their bullpen in Saturday’s 10-8 loss to Cleveland.
"I’m not going to use the word ‘frustration’," Banister said. "There’s no sense in using the word ‘frustration.’ We’ve got to do a better job, that’s the bottom line."
Working with a one-run lead in the ninth, closer Neftali Feliz gave up a double a walk and a wild pitch that led to the tying run scoring on a ground-out.
Then came the big blow. Feliz served up a two-run homer to Jason Kipnis that landed in the upper deck of the home run porch at Globe Life Park. Kipnis came in hitting .419 in his previous 18 games and had two earlier hits on the night.
"The home run hurts," Banister said. "That’s probably the thing that is concerning the most, is the string of home runs late, out of the bullpen. We’ve got to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark."
Feliz wasn’t the only member of the bullpen to struggle Saturday. Keone Kela gave up a run on three singles in the seventh to blow a 7-6 lead.
Shawn Tolleson loaded the bases in the eighth inning but escaped unscathed.
The bullpen’s failures robbed catcher Robinson Chirinos of a chance to be the hero after his eighth inning home run to left gave the Rangers an 8-7 lead.
The collapse also took attention away from the continued hot hitting of Shin-Soo Choo, who had three. Choo tripled and scored to lead off the first and homered in the third.
Starter Colby Lewis (3-2) had far from his best outing after giving up seven hits in five innings. But he left with a 7-6 lead and a chance to pick up his third win in as many starts.
Instead, the win went to Indians veteran Scott Atchison, a TCU product, who left after giving the Rangers the lead on the Chirinos homer. However, Atchison was Cleveland’s pitcher of record when Feliz couldn’t hold that lead in the top of the ninth.
The Rangers came into the homestand appearing to have turned things around after a successful road trip. They’ve now lost three straight games and four of their last five.
Things won’t truly turn around until the Rangers find a successful formula in the bullpen. Banister said that is an ongoing process.
"These guys are going to continue to battle," Banister said. "And we’re going to continue to give them the ball. We’re going to find the best mix. Find a way that gives us the best opportunity to close games out, finish games off."
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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