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What the hell is Ron Washington doing?

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If I didn't know better, I'd assume he wasn't real interested in winning today's game.

Let's start with today's lineup. A lineup that includes Matt Kata at first base, Ramon Vazquez at third base, Nelson Cruz in left field, Victor Diaz in right field, and Chris Stewart behind the plate isn't a lineup that is going to win many games. Or that you should really be filling out your lineup card with, unless it is a spring training game.

Frank Catalanotto, Sammy Sosa, and Gerald Laird (803 OPS in May) all sitting on the bench today is inexplicable. Yeah, those guys all are going to rest from time to time...but all on the same day?

The really inexplicable thing is Matt Kata playing first base. Unless Mark Teixeira had some injury that prohibited him being in the field today, Kata at first base was inexcusable.

And even if Teixeira was hurt, it was still inexcusable. Frank Catalanotto should have been playing first base. And if Cat can't throw well enough to play first base, then put someone else at first. As it was, playing Teixeira at DH and putting Kata at first meant, essentially, there were no backup infielders.

And it wasn't even as if Kata needed to get some playing time. Kata started yesterday at third base. And he, like the rest of the non-Sosa members of the lineup, was awful against Johan Santana, going 0 for 3.

That 0'fer meant that Kata was 1 for his last 24. However, it apparently wasn't enough to keep Kata from starting his second game in a row, while Frank Catalanotto sat for the second game in a row. Cat, who was sitting against a righthanded pitcher, when his sole purpose on the team is to be in the lineup against righthanded pitchers.

So...

Flash forward to the 8th inning. The Rangers, despite having blown several scoring opportunities and getting a poor start from Robinson Tejeda, were down just 5-2, and Vazquez got on base against Twin setup man Juan Rincon with an infield single.

Down three, runner on first, one out. Matt Kata, who had struck out three times -- and looked awful doing so -- was due up.

Obvious time to pinch hit, right? You've got three guys better than Kata available on the bench, and you've got a scoring opportunity in the 8th, when you are going up against the other team's setup man, rather than the closer. Now's the time to strike...right?

Apparently not. Kata, now 1 for his last 27, and having not put the ball in play in three previous ABs, is allowed to hit.

Shockingly, he strikes out.

So, Stewart is due up, and...NOW Washington goes to the bench for Catalanotto.

Not with 1 out and the worst hitter on the team coming up, who coincidentally is playing a position that Cat also plays.

No, one batter later, when the catcher is due up, meaning that in making the move you get Cat for 1 AB and then will end up replacing him with Gerald Laird.

Cat singles home Vazquez, Kenny Lofton singles, but then Michael Young flys out (on a ball that would have been out if the wind was blowing out) to end the inning.

Kata stays in, Laird replaces Cat, and we go to the top of the 9th.

Now, even if Cat's not throwing well right now, I have to think that, under the circumstances, he could have played first base for one inning. But if not, then it still would have made more sense to hit him for Kata, and then move Teixeira to first base. Even though it would mean losing the DH, Kata's spot wouldn't be due up for some time, and there's a good chance losing the DH wouldn't even be an issue.

So...9th inning.

The Rangers now have to rally against Joe Nathan, the closer, rather than a setup man.

But rally they do. Teixeira singles, but is wiped out by a DP. Then Nelson Cruz doubles, and Ian Kinsler walks, bringing up the lefthanded Vazquez, who is 2 for 4 on the day, and 9 for 15 since getting called up.

Matt Kata is on deck.

And Ron Washington, amazingly...burns his last viable pinch hitter, Sammy Sosa, to hit for Vazquez.

Think about it.

Kata, with three Ks, is allowed to hit in the 8th.

Vazquez, who is 2 for 4 and has been hitting well, is pinch hit for with Sosa in the 9th.

And if Sosa gets a hit but doesn't homer, then the fate of the Rangers is now resting in the hands of...

Matt Kata. He of the 1 for 28 streak and the 4 strikeout day.

I predicted Nathan would throw Sosa nothing but sliders. If he swings at them, great, he'll K. If he doesn't, and draws the walk, so what? Matt Kata is due up.

As it turned out, after getting up 1-2, Nathan threw Sosa two sliders out of the zone, and Sosa flailed at the second one, striking out and ending the game.

I spent the drive back from Arlington trying to figure out how these decisions are justifiable.

You either pinch hit for Kata in the 8th, or you let Vazquez hit in the 9th and save Sosa to hit for Kata in the 9th.

And by pinch hitting for Vazquez, you still are going to have to end up losing your DH if you go into extra innings, because Kata will have to move from first base to third base, and Teixeira will have to move to first base.

Just awful in-game managing. Awful, awful, awful.