ARLINGTON -- One inning summed it all up, both the game and the month of June for the Rangers. This inning, more than any other, explains why the Rangers lost to the Angels, 5-2, on Monday night, why they are 10-15 for the month of June and why they are now 2 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West. As manager Ron Washington said later after the Rangers' eighth loss in their past 11 games, "They had one inning and that was the ballgame. We could have had a big inning and we didn't get it done."More
The Rangers were leading, 2-1, going into the bottom of the fifth against Angels rookie right-hander Sean O'Sullivan, who was making his third Major League start. Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a single to left and Michael Young walked. The Rangers had two on and nobody out with David Murphy, Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz coming to the plate. Two innings earlier, Murphy and Byrd had given Rangers starter Vicente Padilla a 2-0 lead with back-to-back home runs. Byrd had also doubled in the first, but the Rangers missed an opportunity to score that inning when Julio Borbon, with the bases loaded, had struck out in his first Major League at-bat. Borbon had batted with two out. Now Murphy and Byrd were batting with nobody out. With Padilla cruising through five innings, the Rangers had a chance to break the game open. "We had two guys on and the heart of our lineup coming up," Murphy said. "Then the inning ended pretty quickly. There's not much more to say." Murphy, a little over-anxious, swung at the first pitch, an 86-mph fastball. He popped it up to second baseman Macier Izturis. "I just flew open a little early," Murphy said. No, Washington said, he did not consider a bunt. "No way," Washington said. "Especially after he had just taken that guy deep. He got the fastball right there, he just didn't get it." Byrd, who had jumped on fastballs for his home run and double, knew O'Sullivan would come with an off-speed pitch to him this time around. He took a curve outside for a ball. "I knew he wouldn't come curve twice, so I was waiting changeup," Byrd said. O'Sullivan threw a changeup. Byrd was out in front and hit it right at third baseman Chone Figgins for an inning-ending double play. "That was the game right there," said Byrd, who was 3-for-4 on the night. "Three great at-bats and one lousy at-bat. If I get those runs home, it changes the game. I've got to get those runs in there. If I do, it's 3-1, we have a cushion and who knows what happens. I got my pitch and didn't execute. Just not good hitting on my part." It was a pivotal moment in the game and the Angels seized their chance. "That was a huge momentum swing," Figgins said. "You almost have to be there to understand it, but I've seen it so many times. That double play completely changed everything. Double plays are killers, man. We came up after that and went to work. You could feel the change in the game." The Angels came back and struck for four runs in the top of the sixth against Padilla, who was pitching without his best fastball all night. Vladimir Guerrero singled and Juan Rivera put the Angels ahead with a two-run home run to dead center. Kendry Morales followed with a shot to almost the same spot and it was 4-2. "I tried to control all of my pitches, but they were up a little bit," Padilla said. "I wasn't throwing as hard as my last outing. I have problems if I don't have my fastball. That's my best pitch." Padilla was gone after a couple of singles by Izturis and Mike Napoli. Jason Jennings took over, but the Angels added one more run when Erick Aybar bunted the runners over and Figgins delivered a sacrifice fly. The Rangers were done for the night. They managed just two more hits the rest of the night. They had one more at-bat with runners in scoring position but Hank Blalock, pinch-hitting for Borbon with runners at second and third in the eighth, grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. The Rangers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, the seventh time this month they finished a game without a RISP hit. They had six such games over the first two months of the season and are hitting .225 with RISP in June after hitting .273 for the first two months in those situations. "One inning took us out tonight," Washington said. "You hope to be able to minimize the damage. I'll take the way we played tonight. We'll put up some more runs but I'll take the way we played tonight."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less