LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- They needed 408 pitches over four hours and 13 minutes to play ten innings at Walt Disney World Thursday night. When it was over and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had completed a three-game sweep, Rangers manager Ron Washington sat in his tiny, cramped office and continued to express optimism that this season is going to turn around. "You can't ask any more of them," Washington said. "I thought we played a [heck of a] game. We just didn't get it done."
No, they did not, in any of the three games at the Ballpark in Disney's Wide World of Sports. Instead Delmon Young hit a two-run home run off of reliever Willie Eyre in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Devil Rays an 8-6 victory. The loss was the Rangers fourth straight and eighth in their last ten games. "I feel for those guys in there," Washington said. "They're busting their tails. The opportunities were there. We just didn't cash in. They did, we didn't." The Rangers were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and they left 14 runners on base. "We grinded out there," shortstop Michael Young said. "We need to find a way to win. It wasn't for a lack off effort. They just kept swinging away and scoring." Asked how to sum up their three days in Disney World, Young said, "The injuries were the most disappointing thing. Losing three games doesn't help. Playing in a Spring Training ballpark wasn't necessarily a blast. If I can avoid those three things the rest of my career, I'll be a happy man." The one thing the Rangers did was make the Devil Rays pitchers work, especially starter Scott Kazmir. Devil Rays pitchers threw 230 pitches over 10 innings, including 109 by Kazmir. He struck out nine but walked six and had to come out of the game with a 5-3 lead after just four innings. The Devil Rays high number of pitches did nothing to help their defense, which committed three errors, and they combined to allow four unearned runs. But the Rangers could have done more damage. Much more damage. "We made them throw some pitches out there," Washington said. "It was another good ballgame. We just lost it. "I feel like if we played like this since the beginning of the season, we wouldn't be in the position we're in. It's going to get better. It's going to get better. It will." Washington was asked where his optimism was coming from. "From the way their playing the ballgame and the things they're doing," Washington said. "The way they're handling the other pitcher. They're doing a lot of good things. We're just missing that one hit, that one pitch, that one play. I'm not giving up until this season is over. I do believe that at some point we are going to get on a roll." Eyre was the last of six pitchers used by the Rangers. Scott Feldman was practically unavailable because of workload and Eric Gagne was being held back to close the game if the Rangers could get the lead. Eyre was supposed to start on Saturday against the Houston Astros. But this relief appearance takes him out of that, leaving the Rangers to choose between Triple A Oklahoma pitchers Mike Wood or John Koronka. The Rangers trailed 6-3 after five innings. Mark Teixeira had a two-run single in the sixth to bring them within one and Victor Diaz, after striking out in his first three at-bats, hit a home run leading off the seventh to tie the game. Rangers starter Kameron Loe allowed six runs on ten hits in 5 1/3 innings, allowing a three-run home run to Young in the fourth inning that gave the Devil Rays a 5-3 lead. The Rangers had just take a 3-2 lead in the top of the inning and that would be their only lead of the game. "That was early in the game," Washington said. "We came back from that. We were still able to come back from that and tie the game. We still had a chance to add on more runs and we didn't get the hit." The Rangers finished with just eight hits, including two by outfielder Kevin Mahar. His third-inning double was his first Major League and he had a run-scoring single for his first RBI in the fourth. That was one of the two hits with runners in scoring position. The Rangers needed more.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.