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Thoughts on a 5-4 Rangers loss

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Twins 5, Rangers 4

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Twins 5, Rangers 4

  • So, this is what we would call a winnable game that wasn't won.  Winnable in the sense that you had Cole Hamels going up against Kyle Gibson, and winnable in the sense the Rangers had opportunities to win the game that they didn't take advantage of.
  • Cole Hamels, alas, wasn't "Cole Hamels" today, and got into trouble in the bottom of the third, though like yesterday in the first inning with Chi Chi Gonzalez, it was trouble the defense should have gotten him out of.  With Texas up 1-0, Hamels gave up a single to lead off the inning, retired the next two batters, and then had Danny Santana, the runner on first, picked off.  Santana broke to second, but Jurickson Profar, playing at first base in place of Mitch Moreland (who was a late scratch), didn't throw to second, and Santana slid in safely.  This is, most likely, a byproduct of Profar being presented with an unusual play at a position he has very little experience at...as a righthanded thrower, the runner is in the line of his throw, and he's not used to changing his position to make the throw around him.  So what should have been an inning-ending pickoff instead put a runner at second.
  • No worries...Hamels got Miguel Sano to hit a grounder back up the middle that Elvis Andrus ranged to his left to get his glove on...but couldn't field.  He kept the ball in the infield, and it was scored an infield hit, but its a ball Elvis is going to make a play on more often than not.
  • The two plays not made immediately came back to haunt the Rangers, as Brian Dozier smoked a ball to deep right that looked like it would be a home run, but instead went for a triple.  Robbie Grossman then singled home Dozier, and what was a 1-0 lead -- and would have been a 1-0 lead had one of the two makeable defensive plays been made -- became a 3-1 deficit.
  • Hamels was in trouble again in the fourth, but the Twins were kept off the board this time by an outstanding defensive play.  Kurt Suzuki started the inning with a single, and then Eddie Rosario smoked a double to deep center.  Suzuki appeared primed to score easily on the play, but a terrific throw in from Ian Desmond, followed by a rocket home by Elvis, allowed Bobby Wilson to tag Suzuki out.  Rosario was then erased when, with the infield in, Santana grounded to shortstop...with Rosario going on contact, he was easily thrown out at home.  Another single put runners on first and third, and then a stolen base without a throw had two runners in scoring position, but Joe Mauer struck out looking to end the threat.
  • The Rangers scored a run in the fifth and seemed poised to get back into it, but things went south for Hamels in the fifth.  A walk, walk, single, single sequence to start the inning brought home a run and chased Hamels.  Tony Barnette came into the game and got a shallow fly ball to right from Suzuki, and then induced a 4-6-3 GIDP from Rosario...except the replay showed that Rosario beat the throw, bringing home another run.  Santana grounded out to end the inning, and Barnette did great work escaping the jam with just one run coming in, but that GIDP that turned into a fielder's choice ended up being the difference in the game.
  • Anyway...Barnette threw two innings without allowing a baserunner, Matt Bush threw a scoreless inning that featured 2 Ks, a walk, and some of the nastiest movement I've seen from him all season, and Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless eighth inning.  The bullpen did its job, putting up four scoreless innings to allow the offense to come back.
  • And the offense almost did come back.  Shin-Soo Choo started the game off with a home run, and the run in the fifth was courtesy of an Elvis Andrus single that brought Rougned Odor, who started the inning with a double, home.  Of course, in the first inning, Texas seemed poised for more than the single run, as Ian Desmond walked, and then Nomar Mazara laced a single to right, meaning the first three batters got on base, and Adrian Beltre was coming up to break things open.  Alas, he hit into a 5-3 GIDP, and then Prince Fielder flew out, and that was that.
  • But other that those two instances, there wasn't much going on until the seventh, when Texas struck back courtesy of a two out Sano throwing error that put Elvis at first base.  Jurickson Profar followed that up with a walk, and then the scratched Mitch Moreland hit for Wilson, also drawing a walk, and loading the bases.  Robinson Chirinos was inserted as a pinch runner for Moreland, which doesn't make sense until you remember Moreland was out of the game due to a bad calf, Chirinos was going to come into the game as the catcher for Wilson anyway, and the only other options on the bench were Ryan Rua and Bryan Holaday.  Not having a better option there to run hurt the Rangers, though, when Choo laced a double to left field, bringing home Elvis and Profar...but not bringing home the slow-footed Chirinos, who was held up at third base, and who was stranded there when Desmond grounded out to end the inning.
  • Lefty Fernando Abad pitched in the eighth, and after retiring Mazara and Beltre, I thought that Banister might pull the trigger on Rua to hit for the lefty Fielder.  Fielder was left in, though, and popped up a ball that fell in no man's land in left field for a single.  That brought up Odor, another lefty, another person who Rua might have been an option for, but Odor was left in, and ended up striking out.
  • Because we hadn't been teased enough, there was a two out rally in the ninth...Chirinos doubled, and Rua finally was brought off the bench to run for him.  Choo, who had two extra base hits already, came up as the go-ahead run, but grounded out to end the game.
  • Alas.
  • The end result was that the Rangers lost a series for the first time since early May.  However, it was a game that was lost due to the starting pitching not doing well, rather than the bullpen, so that's a novel change.  And the Astros lost, so the Rangers are still up 8.5 games in the West...on both Houston and Seattle, actually, as Seattle won, and is now tied with Houston.
  • Seven games left before the All Star Break...three in Boston, starting with a day game tomorrow, and then four against the Twins at home.  And then, after the Break, hopefully, we'll have Yu Darvish and Keone Kela back, and the team will be rested and ready to roll in the second half.