BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers lost their fifth game of the season Friday night. losing 8-4 to Tampa Bay, who extended their winning streak to six games. It was an evening for the Rangers when not much went right.
Matt Harrison was the Rangers’ starter. He took the mound leading the American League in ERA. Five innings later, he wasn’t in the top 10. The Rays banged him for four first inning runs, which proved to be the final margin of victory. They ended up clubbing Harrison (3-1, 3.38) for 14 hits and seven runs, six of which were earned. 14 hits is the most allowed by a Ranger pitcher in a game. It has happened twice previously – Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd (1991) and Bobby Witt (1996).
Defensively, Ian Kinsler made an error in the first inning, the Rangers’ eighth of the year. If fielded cleanly, he had a good chance to turn a double play that would have held the first inning damage to one run. Instead, the Rays plated four to take charge of the game.
On the bases, the Rangers twice gave up scores with boo-boos. Elvis Andrus was picked off first base in the first inning to limit the Rangers’ to one run. In the eighth, the Rangers loaded the bases with no one out, but Nelson Cruz was thrown out handily trying to score on a pitch that skipped past the catcher. It was a play that he would have scored easily if he’d run immediately; but once he didn’t, he needed to return to third base with the Rangers trailing by four runs. In the end, Texas failed to score in the inning and went quietly in the ninth.
Texas did get another good performance out of Robbie Ross who threw 1.1 innings of spotless relief, striking out one of the four batters he faced. The outing dropped his ERA to 1.93. At 4-0, the young rookie leads the A. L. in wins.
Give the Rays credit though. “Big Game” James Shields went to 4-0, 3.31 despite giving up 11 hits and four runs, all earned in six innings. He wasn’t sharp, but with the boost of a four run lead before he took the mound, he gutted out a start good enough for a win.
Josh Hamilton knocked his ninth home run of the year and drove in three runs to bring his season total to 22. David Murphy also homered for Texas, his second in 2012.
Friday’s attendance was 47,496, the fourth consecutive sellout, which ties a club record set in 1994. That record is likely to be broken Saturday when the series continues with the Rangers’ Colby Lewis (2-0) facing the Rays’ Jeff Niemann (1-2).