MINNEAPOLIS -- Their shortstop committed three errors. Their hitters were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Their starting pitcher almost killed himself trying to execute a simple rundown. Strange and frustrating things were happening to the Rangers on Tuesday night, and it proved too much for them to overcome. Instead, they dropped their seventh in the last eight games with a 4-2 loss to the Twins at the Metrodome.
Rangers starter Kevin Millwood took the loss by giving up four runs in 6 2/3 innings. But only two of them were earned because of a pair of throwing errors by shortstop Michael Young in the third inning. Young later fumbled a double-play grounder, giving him three errors in a game for the first time in his career. It came one night after a dropped popup by second baseman Ian Kinsler cost the Rangers a win on Monday night. "I want to play good defense every night," Young said. "I have a lot of pride in my defense. I just didn't play good defense tonight. It's especially frustrating because I love playing behind Millwood. He's out there battling, and to give them two runs because of my mistakes is frustrating." Millwood hardly let Young take all the blame for this one. "I made just enough mistakes to lose," Millwood said. As for the defense, Millwood said, "It happens, just like last night with Kinsler. Everybody drops a ball or makes an error. If I felt those guys weren't trying or working on what they do, it would bother me. But both those guys work hard on what they do. It just happens." Actually, Millwood had the most memorable defensive play in the bottom of the third, the inning when things started to unravel for the Rangers. Texas was leading, 1-0, when Nick Punto opened the inning with a grounder up the middle. Young made a nice stop going to his left, then whirled and fired to first. But the ball bounced past first baseman Frank Catalanotto for an error, and Punto ended up at second. Jason Bartlett then hit a high chopper to Millwood's right. Millwood grabbed it with his bare hand, then turned and had Punto caught between second and third. Millwood ran right at Punto, who faked going to second and then bolted to third. The fake completely got Millwood, who stumbled and went sprawling to the ground. He still had enough presence to throw to third in time to get Punto, then lay on his back for several moments with his arms spread out, trying to catch his breath. "I was trying to tell him to stay where he was," Millwood said. "He wouldn't listen. I knew I couldn't outrun him. He made me look silly, but we still got him." The only problem was that Bartlett made it to second on the play. Jason Kubel followed with a routine grounder to Young, who fielded the ball cleanly but again bounced his throw past Catalanotto. Bartlett scored to tie the game, and a two-out single by Torii Hunter later in the inning gave the Twins a 2-1 lead. "I can't put my finger on it," Young said. "The first one didn't bother me. I'm always going to try and make a play. I'm never going to put the ball in my pocket. The next two errors were flat-out routine, plays I didn't make. It doesn't make me happy at all. I'll just tighten it up and get back out there tomorrow." Actually, manager Ron Washington is planning to use Young at designated hitter on Wednesday. That's been the plan for two days, and has nothing to do with what happened Tuesday night. "He just had a rough night," Washington said. "All the balls he missed tonight, you hit it to him 99 more times and he'll make every single play. He had a rough night tonight, but that guy shows up every day and hits the field. I'm not complaining about him. He had a rough night, but we were still in the ballgame." A few clutch hits might have erased any memory of Young's defense, but the Rangers were miserable with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-13 and leaving 13 runners on base. "We had 11 hits," Kinsler pointed out. "When you have 10 or more hits, you feel like you should be winning." The Rangers are 41-17 when they have 10 or more hits. But not when only one of the hits drives in a run. That was a one-out, bases-loaded single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth inning, a sharp line drive to right that could only bring home one run. The bases remained loaded and Travis Metcalf hit into an inning-ending double play. "We just weren't very good in those situations," Washington said. "We were going good in that, we just haven't been able to pick it up lately."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.