Astacio, Rangers knocked out early

Astacio, Rangers knocked out early

ARLINGTON -- Joaquin Benoit had a productive night for a starter looking to find his way back into the organization's good graces Friday.

Four hits, one run, 4 1/3 innings.

So did Kameron Loe, a rookie trying to fit in anywhere he is needed -- one hit, no runs allowed, two innings.

The trouble is, Benoit and Loe are relievers at the moment. Pedro Astacio started the game Friday, but it was Cleveland that finished it in on its way to an 8-6 victory against the Rangers in front of 30,742 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

Among the soured spectators Friday night was Rangers manager Buck Showalter. First base umpire Gary Darling ejected him in the ninth inning after the manager vented his frustration when Michael Young hit into a double play with no outs in the ninth. Showalter argued, flipped his Rangers team cap on backward and eventually tossed the cap into the stands on his way to the dugout.

The ejection was Showalter's first as manager of the Rangers.

"He was out on the double play," Showalter said. "My feeling is that we had enough opportunities not to make an umpire's call matter. We did not take advantage of them. We didn't particularly pitch well early on, but we grinded our way back into the game."

The game-long frustration heightened during Young's ninth inning at-bat when he was charged with a check-swing on a 2-1 count. With the count at 2-2, Young fouled off the next pitch. He hit the following pitch into a double play.

"Players appreciate it when a manager supports him and stands up for him," Young said. "I think in that situation, I think we had a dugout full of angry players and our manager showed it.

My biggest thing is that I was upset at the call, but (the umpire) did not roll over the slider for a double play, I did."

For all the drama the ending provided, it was the beginning that shaped the game.

Astacio did not make it out of the first frame and was charged with seven runs (all earned) on seven hits in 2/3 of an inning for the loss. He struck out one batter and allowed two home runs.

He gave up a single to Alex Cora to start the game, but recovered to retire the next two batters in order. Then it got interesting, for the Indians.

The next six batters would all reach base and score before Benoit entered with the Rangers trailing, 7-0. Benoit retired Cora and went on to pitch 4 1/3 innings before giving way to Loe.

All Loe did was pitch two scoreless innings before passing the baton to Ron Mahay.

"One thing we like about [Loe] is that he is not afraid and he is going to throw it over," Showalter said. "He may have struggled a little bit statistically at 22 years old last year, but we went home last year thinking good things about him."

Mahay and Francisco Cordero combined to pitch the final two scoreless innings for an encouraging ending to a game that had a forgettable start.

In regards to starts, Astacio could be among the spectators in his next turn in the rotation. Showalter did not say the right-hander would not make his next start. He did not say he would, either.

Astacio has gone 0-3 with a 16.03 ERA in his last three games to raise his ERA from 1.64 to 6.34.

"Velocity-wise and arm-strength, he is about the same, but he was about two or three inches higher in the strike zone," Showalter said. "That's a big difference for him. Early on his breaking ball and changeup were working for him. It's good that we have seen it, but he has not been able to bring it his last few times."

The loss ruined a splendid night for Alfonso Soriano. Trailing 8-1 in the sixth, Soriano hit a two-run home run to cut the lead to 8-3. In a three-run eighth inning, he connected on another two-run home run, his eighth homer of the season, to pull the Rangers within three runs, 8-5. Kevin Mench also scored in the inning to keep the Rangers within striking distance.

The Rangers would not get any closer.

"I'm frustrated for them," Showalter said. "It thought it was right there for us. We worked our way back in. Soriano had big night. ... They hit some balls good, obviously, and we all know how conditions carry here. But we are both playing in the same park."

Down 7-0, Hank Blalock hit a solo home run, his fifth home run of the season, off Indians starter Cliff Lee in the second inning for the Rangers' first run. Lee allowed eight hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings before being replaced by David Riske.

"You can always look back during the course of a game and find out how an umpire's call should not have mattered," Showalter said.

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.