RANGERS FALL TO FOURTH

BY: Richard W, Humphrey

Texas lost two of three this weekend to the Boston Red Sox to drop their record to an even .500 at 19-19 and fall to fourth place in the American League West. They trail first place Oakland by four games, are one-half game behind third place Seattle (one in the loss column) and are one game behind second place Los Angeles (two in the loss column). The weekend started strong for Texas with a marvelous 8-0 win behind an astounding pitching performance from Yu Darvish, but Boston came back to win the next two games easily after taking early leads against Rangers’ starting pitchers Martin Perez and Robbie Ross.

The series began with one of the most compelling games a fan will ever see on Friday night. Darvish retired the first 20 Boston batters. He was one out away from a no-hitter in the ninth inning. He won the game to improve to 3-1, but he got neither the perfect game, the no-hitter, nor the complete game shutout. It was undoubtedly the best game of the year, and when October arrives, that may still be true.

Jamey Newberg is a noted Ranger commentator. He sent an E-mail to his followers on Saturday with comments on the game which are so artfully written that I wanted to share them on this site. He graciously agreed to allow me to include them in my report.

“And Texas 8, Boston 0 was a spectacular win. A thorough taking down of the reigning World Champs, a May baseball beating of the highest order, with lots of offense, and three hours of majestic, special, breathtaking artistry painted on a canvas that stretched across the 60 feet and six inches between one slab of rubber and the other.

It was what, one of the ten greatest Rangers’ pitching performances I’ve ever seen?

Five?”

Steve Busby said on the Channel 21 telecast that it was the best he’s seen Darvish pitch. He’s probably watched every Darvish start. As a player, Busby won 70 games, including two no-hitters in a career shortened by arm trouble. Busby knows pitching.

Darvish was magnificent, as he struck out 12. The perfect game ended on a fly ball to short right field that should easily have been caught. It dropped between second baseman Rougned Odor and right fielder Alex Rios. Neither touched the ball, but the official scorer ruled it an error on Rios. More on the call below.

The wind was to some degree let out of the sails with the perfect game out the window. Darvish next walked Mike Napoli, but he got out of the inning without any further damage with a fly to right. However, he walked another in the eighth. David “Big Papi” Ortiz again strode to the plate in the ninth inning after Dustin Pedroia had grounded out and Shane Victorino had struck out. Ortiz promptly grounded a hard ground ball past Odor in short right field to end the no hit bid. Manager Ron Washington immediately took Darvish out at that point, and Alexi Ogando retired Napoli on a fly ball to left to end the game.

On the offensive side, Texas took an early lead with a first inning run. They added two more in the third and put the game away with five more in the fifth. Six different players drove home at least one run. Mitch Moreland had three hits.

Lost in the hoopla over Darvish’s performance was Elvis Andrus. He was reinserted into the two spot in the batting order after spending the past few games at the bottom of the batting order. Obviously, Andrus wants to stay at two as he got hits in his first four at bats. It was not only his, but the Rangers’ first four hit game of the season.

8-0 was the final score. It was the Rangers’ eighth shutout of the year, which leads the Major Leagues.

On Saturday, it was obvious almost from the first pitch that starting pitcher Martin Perez had little command. When he missed spots, he missed them badly. Boston scored single runs in the second and third innings, but really took charge of the game with four in the fourth. Victorino and Johnny Gomes each had two run singles in that fourth inning to plate the runs. Gomes’ single ended Perez’s night at 3-2/3rds innings pitched with six earned runs allowed. He walked four, hit a batter and gave up six hits to the 23 batters he faced.

A Prince Fielder sacrifice fly and a Rios triple in the bottom of the fourth cut the Red Sox lead to 6-2. Andrus doubled home another in the fifth, but that was all the Texas scoring on the night. Justin Germano gave up the final two Boston runs in the eighth inning in his Major League debut. 8-3 was the final score. Boston’s Jon Lester (4-4) was the winning pitcher. Perez (4-3) the loser.

Sunday’s game looked like the fourth straight rocky start for Robby Ross early. Boston scored three in a 28 pitch first inning and another in a 22 pitch second. From that point on though, he righted the ship. Ross gave up just a single to the next 15 Boston batters. That brought up Pedroia with two outs in the seventh inning, and Ross left a pitch up in the strike zone that Pedroia didn’t miss. He knocked it out of the park to left center field, which ended Ross’s day.

Meanwhile, former UT-Arlington pitcher John Lackey was holding the Rangers in check for Boston. He gave up a solo home run to Sin-Shoo Choo in the fourth and a run scoring double to Moreland in the seventh among the seven hits he surrendered. He walked no one and struck out nine over seven innings to win his fifth game against two losses.

5-2 was the final score. The loss put Ross’s record at 1-4 with a 5.04 ERA.

The attendance for the three games was 134,763, an average of 44,900 per game. Boston is one of the best draws of the season and surprisingly, only the Saturday game was an official sellout. The Red Sox are after all the defending World Series Champions, but they are scuffling to stay in the race in the East Division. So far, their pitching is a bit better than last year’s team, but they are scoring more than a run per game less. Sunday’s win pulled them just one game over .500 at 19-18, though they trail first place Baltimore by just two games, three in the loss column.

The Rangers now travel 240 miles south to Houston for a three game set with the Astros. Colby Lewis (2-1, 6.12), Matt Harrison (1-0, 2.87) and Nick Tepesch in his 2014 Ranger debut are the starting pitchers.

THE CALL: Steve Weller was the official scorer Friday night. For a number of years as an employee of MLB Advanced Media, I inputted every pitch in games into a computer that generated the official box score. One of the duties of the job was to review the box score with the official scorer after the game, and I have reviewed many with Weller. He is a sincere scorer, but a strict one. On close calls, he was more than likely to rule an error than a hit. There is an official scoring rule that essentially states that a ball such as the one David Ortiz hit in the seventh inning that should easily be caught should be scored an error. There is no test as to whether the ball hits a fielder’s glove before dropping to the ground as many fans believe. Steve took a while to make his decision, and as I watched, I was sure that he would rule the ball an error. The question was who to charge the error to. Weller said later that part of the delay was caused by his calling the Elias Sports Bureau for advice.

In the end, he ruled it an error on right fielder Alex Rios. Second baseman Rougned Odor had made the better effort to catch the ball, but under the circumstances, it is the right fielder’s responsibility to call off the infielder and make the catch. It is much easier to catch a high pop for an outfielder running in as opposed to an infielder backing up. Candidly, similar plays have routinely been ruled base hits, irrespective of the rule. The Red Sox have appealed to the American League to change the scoring on the play to a base hit. It could happen. However, hats off to Steve Weller. It took courage to apply the rule correctly when it is rarely applied as written and intended. For sure, Steve’s name is much more well known than it was a week ago. Steve’s probably not happy about that, but knowing Steve; he’s probably not losing any sleep over it either.

INJURIES and ROSTER MOVES: Martin Perez reported elbow soreness after Saturday’s game. He had an MRI on Sunday, which indicated inflammation in the area, but no structural damage. He will not be making his next start and will undergo further examinations. A stint on the disabled list is possible if not likely. Texas announced that Nick Tepesch will start Wednesday in Houston. He has a 6-1 record and 1.58 ERA at AAA Round Rock. He will become the ninth starting pitcher for the Rangers this year. His Wednesday start will push Darvish’s next start back to Friday night when the Rangers return home to face Toronto.

NOTABLE:

* With Justin Germano’s appearance, the Rangers have used 37 players, 21 of which were pitchers in games this season. 37 ties the Angels for the most in the Majors. 21 is the Major League high.

* The Rangers are 24-20 all time on Mothers’ Day. On the exact same date (May 11) in 2003, Raphael Palmeiro hit his 500th home run on Mother’s Day in Arlington. The baseballs utilized in Sunday’s game had pink laces. Texas players had the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms Sunday and wore pink wrist bands. Many used pink bats to promote breast cancer awareness.

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