ARLINGTON -- There was a point earlier this season when Vicente Padilla had the distinction of having the lowest run support of any pitcher in the American League. That's not the case anymore, at least right now. But Padilla has taken the lead in another category that's befits the misfortunes he has experienced since the season began. He has given up the most unearned runs in the American League, and the one he allowed on Friday night turned out to be huge in the Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Padilla and the Rangers were trailing 2-0 into the fifth when the Angels loaded the bases with one out. Gary Matthews Jr. then hit a double-play grounder right at second baseman Ian Kinsler, who let the ball go right through his legs for an error. "I missed it," Kinsler said. "I was trying to catch it, not let the ball go through my legs. Sometimes it happens. I don't know what else to say. You want to turn two there." The Rangers didn't. Instead, the two runs scored, two runs the Rangers couldn't afford to give up on a night when Angels starter John Lackey was at his best. The error gave the Angels a 4-0 lead and Lackey took a 6-0 lead into the ninth, pitching a two-hitter, before the Rangers finally got to him for three runs. Two came across on Sammy Sosa's 596th career home run. But Scot Shields cut that rally short to save it for Lackey, and the Rangers have now lost four straight to the Angels this season. "I feel bad for Padilla, he pitched great," shortstop Michael Young said. "At some point, we have to pick him up." Padilla allowed four runs, three earned, in seven innings and that qualifies as a quality start. But it's also a loss, and Padilla is now 1-5 with a 4.78 ERA on the season. He has a 3.73 ERA over his last five starts, but the Rangers have won just one of those games. Friday night also marked the fourth time Padilla has pitched at least seven innings, and the Rangers are 1-3 in those games. "I can't give you an explanation," Padilla said. "They make errors, but it's still my job to pitch. You can emphasize the errors, but sometimes I give up home runs, so you can't blame anybody." Manager Ron Washington talked before the game about the key to the Rangers' season being able to pitch and catch the baseball. But Kinsler's error was the 30th by the Rangers this season, tying them with the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the most in the American League. "I'm not frustrated," Washington said. "I'm just saying for us to get better, we have to pitch and play better defense. If I could understand why it's happening, I'd stop it, but it's just one misplay, the ball through Kinsler's legs. It's a physical mistake. We have to deal with it." Padilla needs good defense, especially from his infielders. He gets 60.4 percent of his outs on ground balls, which puts him in the top 10 in the American League. But he strikes out just 3.7 batters per nine innings. The Rangers did turn four double plays for Padilla on Friday and now have 10 behind him this season, the most for any pitcher in the American League. But it's the big one that got away that the Rangers will remember from Friday. "We have a lot of guys who take pride in their defense, so when we make a mistake in big situations, it's a shock," Young said. "We'll keep working on it." They need to, for Padilla's sake.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.