ARLINGTON -- Eddie Guardado took his frustration out on the home-plate umpire. Ian Kinsler used his batting helmet to vent his anger. Michael Young blamed himself for a ninth-inning baserunning mistake, but he was more upset about a fifth-inning rally that went nowhere. "The fifth inning is where I'm not really happy," Young said. "We had a shot and didn't do any damage." After getting back to the .500 mark, the Rangers ended April on a losing note, with a losing record and thoroughly miffed with themselves in a 4-2 loss to the Athletics on Thursday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had to leave the game after two innings because of irritation in his right eye, but he was hardly the only one who was irritated. Guardado was symbolically thrown out of the game in the seventh inning, Kinsler was robbed of a dramatic three-run home run by Athletics outfielder Ryan Sweeney in the eighth and Young, with his team trailing by three, was thrown out trying to stretch a double off the left-field wall into a triple in the ninth. "Obviously, [it was] a bad play," Young said. "Down three runs, you can't make it a bang-bang play. I thought the ball kicked off farther than it did. Either way, I've got to put the brakes on." But going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 runners left on base said as much about the Rangers' frustrations as anything. "We had some opportunities," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had guys who usually come through, and it just didn't happen today." The most memorable at-bat came in the eighth. The Rangers, down 3-1, had two on and two out when Kinsler hit a drive to deep center field that sent Sweeney back to the wall. "I didn't know just what it was going to do," Sweeney said. "I tried to get back, and I was trying to time it. It surprised me [that] I got it in my glove. It was a good feeling." Sweeney made the catch, clearly taking away a three-run home run that would have given the Rangers the lead. Kinsler reacted by slamming his helmet into the ground between first and second base. "That was a good catch," Kinsler said. "There's nothing else I can say about it. I was thinking that I want to see it on the grass. I saw him back there and camped under it. I was hoping it would be on the grass [beyond the outfield wall] and out of his reach." But half of the Rangers' at-bats with runners in scoring position came in the fifth inning against Athletics starter Dallas Braden, who was waging a scoreless pitching duel with Vicente Padilla. Kinsler led off with a single and Marlon Byrd doubled into the left-field corner to put runners on second and third. But Young followed by popping out to second baseman Eric Patterson. After Andruw Jones was walked intentionally, Hank Blalock then popped out and Nelson Cruz struck out to end the threat. "The fifth inning was where I think a golden opportunity slipped away," Young said. "The whole game was frustrating," Kinsler said. "We had [Braden] on the ropes a couple of times, and he battled through it. That doesn't happen often with our offense, but he did a great job of keeping us from scoring." The Athletics were much better at executing in the sixth against Padilla after Kurt Suzuki led off with a double. Travis Buck moved him to third with a ground ball to the right side, and Landon Powell brought him home with a fly ball to center. They added two more in the seventh. Patterson, Sweeney and Orlando Cabrera led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Guardado was called on to face left-handed-hitter Jack Cust and walked him on four pitches. Washington then brought in Jason Jennings, and Guardado left yelling at home-plate umpire Angel Campos -- earning the symbolic ejection. Guardado may have made the ultimate penalty worse by flinging his hat and glove in the air and making a swirling gesture with his left hand over his head. The Athletics then added a second run on Suzuki's sacrifice fly. Guardado, who has a 9.64 ERA and has allowed 12 baserunners in 4 2/3 innings this year, blamed himself afterward. "It was not his fault," Guardado said. "It was all my fault. I let out my frustrations, and he happened to be standing there. It's nobody's fault but my own. I was frustrated. I'm not getting it done. I've never struggled against left-handers before. You come in and get left-handers out in that spot, I've got to do a better job." The Rangers ended up with two runs on home runs by Blalock in the eighth and Jones in the ninth. They now lead the Majors with 41 home runs, but they are hitting .229 with runners in scoring position in their past 12 games.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.