If the Rangers want to beat the Blue Jays, they have to keep the ball in the ballpark. Period.
Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, it was the same old song and dance. The Rangers attempted a ninth-inning rally, but they were unable to power past the Jays. The Major League home run leaders swatted four long balls -- including two off starter Scott Feldman -- to send Texas to an 8-5 defeat.
The Rangers have now dropped their last five contests, and have lost seven consecutive games against Toronto, with their last win on Opening Day.
Rather than put extra emphasis on the current skid -- the Rangers retain a comfortable lead atop the American League West -- Washington commented on his team's inability to execute on the task at hand.
"We got some pitches up in the zone and, as I said earlier, we have to keep these guys in the ballpark," Washington said. "If we don't keep these guys in the ballpark, we don't have a chance. We didn't. We waited until the end of the game to battle, but the home runs we gave up came back to haunt us."
Down five runs entering the final frame, the Rangers refused to lay down. Nelson Cruz singled off reliever Shawn Camp to begin the inning, and Mitch Moreland laced a ground-rule double down the left-field line to put both runners in scoring position.
One out later, Andres Blanco singled on a ground ball to center field to plate the two runs.
After a single to Julio Borbon to put men on first and second, Jays manager Cito Gaston signaled to the bullpen to bring in closer Kevin Gregg.
With Ian Kinsler at the dish, representing the tying run, Gregg induced the second baseman into a force out at first. Down to their last strike, Michael Young -- 0-for-4 coming into the at-bat -- hit a laser to center field, right at Vernon Wells, to end any chance of a Cinderella story.
Although final frame was exciting, it's tough to win games when you allow four baseballs to leave the yard.
Taking the place of an ailing Cliff Lee and making his first start since returning from the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right knee, Feldman lasted just 4 2/3 frames.
The tall right-hander surrendered a solo blast to John Buck in the second and a solo moon shot to Wells in the fourth. He also gave up a two-run, two-out double to Jose Bautista in the fifth -- effectively removing himself from the contest.
"I think they just capitalized on the mistakes that we made out there," Feldman said. "I saw it again tonight. Balls that you leave up over the plate -- they've got some guys that have some pretty good power, and they've been making us pay on those."
The Blue Jays added a run off a DeWayne Wise double in the sixth, followed by a pair of home runs in the seventh from Adam Lind and Wells, his second of the game.
Blue Jays hitters have amassed 21 home runs off Texas hurlers in just eight games this season. Wells in particular, has been deadly, launching eight homers on his own, including 16 RBIs.
"I wish I could do it against everybody else; we'd be closer in the races," said Wells, an Arlington native. "I can't explain it. It's just one of those years where it seems I get lucky against that team."
Starting pitcher Shaun Marcum was solid for the Jays, giving up three runs over seven innings, while recording eight strikeouts. His only blemishes were a two-run blast from Vladimir Guerrero in the fourth and a Blanco RBI single in the seventh.
Gaston said the Rangers are not at their full potential right now because of injuries.
"They need to get healthy over there," Gaston said. "They're not real healthy right now. If they can hang on and get healthy, they should be OK."
Although the injuries are out of Washington's control, he'll be the first to tell you what has to be done.
Keep the ball in the ballpark.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less