Calls, breaks don't go Rangers way in loss
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers had everything in place for a nice come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees Tuesday night.
Their light-out bullpen got the ball to All-Star closer Joe Nathan and the Rangers were three outs from going 52-0 in games they led after eight innings.
Instead they are a stinging 51-1 after the Yankees rallied for two runs to pull out a 5-4 victory.
Nathan, who had converted 15 consecutive save chances, allowed a one-out walk to Vernon Wells and then gave up an RBI triple to Eduardo Nunez. Brent Lillibridge followed with a flaring single to left to put the Yankees up.
Nathan thought he threw enough strikes to get out of the inning but home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley didn't see it that way. Nathan refused to blame Danley after the game.
"Those borderline ones were not in my favor," said Nathan, who came into the game with 12-consecutive scoreless appearances. "Of course we all want the close ones. We all want the pitcher's pitch but sometimes you're not going to get it. Hopefully on their side they're trying to be consistent as they can, trying to call strikes strikes and balls balls. That's all you can hope for as a player. Today was just one of those days where I saw it calls strikes throughout the day and also called balls obviously."
Wells drew a walk on a full-count pitch and then Nathan ran into bad luck in the Nunez at-bat. With the count 2-2, he slipped and fell and the ball only went about 30 feet, setting up the triple. The hit by Nunez was just out of the reach of Craig Gentry, who made an outstanding catch in the third inning.
Even after the Nunez hit, Nathan had a chance to preserve the tie but Lillibridge delivered his first RBI as a Yankee.
"I had Lillibridge up and I still had to make pitches," Nathan said. "Unfortunately he fought one off and muscled it into the outfield. He did his job and got the ball into the outfield grass."
The ninth put a damper on what would have been a solid win. Alexi Ogando, making his first start since June 5 after coming off the disabled list, was touched for two runs in the third and another in the fourth as the Yankees built a 3-0 lead behind Phil Hughes.
But the Rangers rallied for four runs in the sixth inning. Adrian Beltre's RBI double got the Rangers going and Elvis Andrus added an RBI single for just his third run-scoring hit of the month. The Yankees went to lefty Boone Logan to try and get out of the inning but Mitch Moreland rammed a two-run homer to center to push the Rangers into the lead.
While the sixth was huge, it turns out the scoring chances missed early on proved to be pivotal. The Rangers were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position as they couldn't take advantage of leadoff doubles in the first and third innings.
That ended up being costly late, although Texas manager Ron Washington refused to point fingers at the way the game was called.
"Even if the pitches to Wells were close he walked," Washington said. "He's on first base. Nunez battled for his at-bat, got a pitch and hit it well. Then Lillibridge did the rest. That's the way the game is. Once again, if I give the ball to Joe I feel very comfortable. It just didn't happen tonight."
Ogando pitched five innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out two.
After he exited, the Rangers got scoreless innings from Ross Wolf, Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts to run the bullpen's scoreless inning streak to 25 1/3 innings.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, that streak ended in the ninth.