"I don't drop those ones," Kinsler said. "I can't even remember the last time I dropped one like that. It was a routine pop fly. I ran back and I dropped it. It wasn't anything special. It wasn't the dome. A bug didn't fly in my eye. I just dropped it."
That's how it ended on a night when Edinson Volquez gave the Rangers a quality start, catcher Guillermo Quiroz did an excellent job in his first start behind the plate and Travis Metcalf made up for what he said was a bad day in the field with a big hit off a big pitcher.
The Rangers led, 3-2, going into the bottom of the eighth because of Quiroz and then, 4-3, going into the bottom of the ninth on Metcalf's home run off of All-Star closer Joe Nathan. That left the Rangers just three outs away from a victory and they never got there.
"It's just disappointing to come up short like that," first baseman Brad Wilkerson said. "We need to close that one. We felt like we had it won. That's a very big disappointment right there."
The Rangers put those leads in the hands of C.J. Wilson and Joaquin Benoit, their two most reliable relievers. But neither could give the Rangers a scoreless inning when they needed it, and the game finally slipped away when the last popup slipped out of Kinsler's glove in short center field.
"I don't know where to begin on that one," said Wilson, who gave up a two-out game-tying single to Torii Hunter in the eighth inning that made it a 3-3 game.
Kinsler didn't even start the game. Washington gave him the night off because he thought the second baseman had been looking sluggish at the plate. Washington wasn't worried about Kinsler's defense. In fact, he has been lavish in his praise for Kinsler's defensive improvement this season.
Kinsler didn't enter the game until the top of the ninth. With the score tied, the Twins went with Nathan and Washington decided to pinch-hit Kinsler for Ramon Vazquez.
"I thought he had a better shot against Nathan's fastball," Washington said.
Instead Nathan struck out Kinsler. But Metcalf came up next and jumped on a 3-2 slider, hitting it deep into the left-center-field seats for a home run that gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
The Rangers were flying high after that one, but as Metcalf said, "We came back down pretty quickly."
Washington called on Benoit to pitch the ninth. He said the Twins batting order dictated why he used Wilson in the eighth and Benoit in the ninth.
"The guys that Wilson faced in the eighth [the top of the Twins order], it was more conducive to having him in the game," Washington said. "The lineup at the end, I thought Benoit could put them away."
He couldn't. Instead, Michael Cuddyer led off the inning by hitting a 2-2 changeup into the left-field seats to tie the game.
"A bad pitch," Benoit said. "Wrong pitch, wrong location."
Benoit then walked Lew Ford and Brian Buscher bunted him to second. Benoit struck out Nick Punto and then got Bartlett to hit a weak popup into short center. Kinsler got there in plenty of time but tried to catch it down around his waist instead of around the shoulder or eye level.
And he dropped it. And the game was over.
"How about that?" Hunter said in the Twins locker room. "I don't think I've ever seen something like that, maybe in Little League, but I don't think I've ever seen a game end like that. That was pretty funny."
Not to Washington.
"It surprised me," Washington said. "It surprised me because of the importance of the out. He has a habit of thinking everything is easy and tonight it cost us. That's an out you must secure."