Rangers continue to sputter vs. Angels

Rangers continue to sputter

ANAHEIM -- Michael Young was able to return to the Rangers lineup when they opened a four-game series against the Angels on Monday.

Since then, the Rangers have shut down Josh Hamilton and lost Marlon Byrd and Chris Davis to injuries. On Wednesday, Hank Blalock had to leave the game with a mild concussion after getting kneed in the head by Derek Holland, and Nelson Cruz had to drop out because of a twisted right ankle.

What was left of the Rangers' depleted lineup went quietly in the night, managing just one hit in a 5-0 loss to the Angels. The Rangers have now lost four straight and 13 of their last 19 games. Six of those 13 losses have come by shutout and they have managed just two runs in three games here against the Angels.

"We obviously wanted to come out with a better effort and more than one hit," Young said. "We just didn't get it done. Obviously it's tough because our chances to make the playoffs are finished. It's difficult to deal with and difficult to accept. Now we have four games left, we still have to be professional and play to win."

A series that began with the Rangers holding a faint hope of catching the Angels in the American League West now offers a different scenario. The Rangers are just three games ahead of the third-place Mariners. A showdown for the divisional silver medal looms this weekend in Seattle.

The Rangers still have one game left with the Angels and will have to scrap a lineup together with Byrd, Blalock, Davis and Cruz all questionable to doubtful because of their injuries.

"We put the best lineup we could out there tonight, and we'll put the best out there tomorrow and see if we can get this turned around and get a win," manager Ron Washington said.

Julio Borbon had the Rangers' only hit on Wednesday, a single to lead off the first inning against Angels rookie Matt Palmer. Borbon was then cut down trying to steal second, and the Rangers couldn't get a runner to second base until a walk and an error to start the ninth.

They had five walks but not another hit. The Rangers have suffered only 15 one-hit shutouts since 1972, but this is the fourth time this season and the second time this month. Since 1954, no team has ever suffered more than four one-hit offensive nights in a season.

"You've got to score runs," Washington said, "and we didn't score any runs."

Injuries have depleted the Rangers' offense, but they weren't going against the Angels' best. After they clinched on Monday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia took out Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver from his rotation and replaced them with Sean O'Sullivan and Palmer.

"We've seen O'Sullivan and Palmer the last two days," Washington said. "They have no business shutting us down."

Holland brought his season to a close with his sixth loss in seven games but made through 6 1/3 innings, marking his longest outing since going 6 2/3 in a victory against the Red Sox on Aug. 15.

He still gave up four runs on eight hits while not walking a batter and striking out three. He ends his rookie year at 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA.

"I felt real good out there," Holland said. "I had command of all of my pitches. There were just a couple that got away. I feel good though about the overall outing. It's just the results weren't what I wanted. "

Holland retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up a leadoff double to Chone Figgins in the fourth. Then came the play that eventually knocked Blalock out of the game.

Erick Aybar dropped a bunt down the first-base line. Blalock fielded it and tried to make a diving tag on Aybar. He missed, but Holland, who was racing over to cover the bag, apparently kneed Blalock as he tried to jump and avoid him. Blalock finished the inning before Andruw Jones pinch-hit for him in the top of the fifth.

"I hope he's OK," Holland said. "I was trying to hop over him to avoid him and his head came up at the same time and we collided."

Figgins went to third on the plate and scored on Torii Hunter's infield single off of shortstop Elvis Andrus' glove. Another run scored on a two-out RBI single by Juan Rivera.

Cruz hurt his ankle running down a fly ball early in the game. He tried to stay in for a couple of at-bats but ultimately Esteban German had to pinch-hit for him in the eighth. The Rangers are running out of players.

"We've definitely got hit by the injury bug late in the year," Young said. "But there are no excuses. They got hit early in the year. You've got to make up for it."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.