ARLINGTON -- Add Doug Mathis' name to a growing list of Rangers pitchers who'll be sleeping restlessly this week with visions of home runs dancing in their heads. Of course, there was the Texas bullpen meltdown Sunday when it allowed eight runs in the seventh inning before recording an out. Then the bullpen put together another lackluster showing Monday. As for Mathis, he'll probably be having nightmares about Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake in particular. Blake took Mathis deep twice and hit a bases-clearing double to drive in seven of Cleveland's runs in a 13-9 victory Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in front of 17,247 fans.More
"That's what happens when you fall behind big league hitters," Mathis said. "I can't walk guys and get behind guys like I did -- and when I get ahead, I've got to do a better job of putting them away." However, a five-run fifth inning by the Rangers that tied the game, 8-8, put Blake's heroics on hold. Not until Blake's teammate, Ben Francisco, placed a Joaquin Benoit offering over the left-field wall for a two-run home run in the seventh did Cleveland take the lead for good. Pitching to contact, Mathis received plenty of help from his defense. First baseman Chris Shelton made a lunging stab on a grounder to his right to end the second inning and strand two Indians. And just before Blake launched his second two-run home run, Texas turned a double play. However, some of the contact Mathis pitched to was detrimental to his cause -- like when Blake made contact with his pitches. Blake entered the game with one career hit against Mathis in three at-bats, but in three at-bats against the right-hander Monday night, he was a perfect 3-for-3. His first two-run home run put Cleveland up 2-0 in the second inning, and his second extended the Indians' lead to 4-1 in the third. His three-run double in the fourth seemingly put the game out of reach with Cleveland on top, 8-3. Blake's seven RBIs on Monday tied a career high and set the high mark for an American Leaguer player this season. His double came on Mathis' 100th and final pitch of the night. Of Mathis' 100 pitches, a mere 58 were for strikes. "He's a control pitcher and he just hasn't had his command," manager Ron Washington said. "And the two times he's pitched bad he hasn't been on normal rest. So maybe we'll try to keep him on five days' rest to see if it helps." When Robinson Tejeda, who took part in Sunday's bullpen meltdown, came in for Mathis in the fourth and walked the first batter he faced, things looked even bleaker for the Rangers. However, Tejeda got out of the inning and pitched a perfect fifth. The same couldn't be said for his comrade, Benoit. In an inning of relief, Benoit served up the home run to Francisco and another one to David Dellucci in the eighth. In all, Benoit allowed four runs on three hits, four walks and a wild pitch. Despite allowing eight runs on 12 hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings, Mathis got off the hook thanks to a five-run rally by the Rangers in the bottom of the fifth. Eddie Guardado (0-1) took the loss as the Rangers fell back below .500 at 29-30. Ian Kinsler led off the fifth with a double and scored on a single from Michael Young, who stretched his own hitting streak to 18 games, to cut the deficit to four runs. Kinsler had extended his hitting streak to 17 games in the first inning. Another single and a walk surrendered by Cleveland left-hander Aaron Laffey loaded the bases for Marlon Byrd with no outs. Byrd entered the game hitting .158 in his previous six games, but he broke out of that slump in a big way with his second hit of the night -- a grand slam that gave Texas new life. "We haven't given up all year," Byrd said. After entering the fifth inning with the victory there for the taking, Laffey exited at the end of the inning lucky to get a no-decision while Masahide Kobayashi (3-2) earned the victory in relief. Laffey also struggled to command his pitches. Of his 88 pitches, only 49 were for strikes. Two innings before Byrd's bomb, Josh Hamilton hit his 16th home run of the season to bring the Rangers within two, 5-3. The home run was Hamilton's third in as many games. It was the first time in his career he'd homered in three straight games. Monday's long ball came on the heels of Hamilton being named American League Player of the Month for May. "This guy played better in May than he did in April, and I hope he plays better in June than he did in May, and I hope he plays better in July than he does in June," Washington said before the game. Now 4-for-9 with a pair of home runs two days into June, Hamilton is off to a good start.
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less