Saunders falters early, bullpen falters late as Rangers lose

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Wednesday’s game

Angels at Rangers

3:05 p.m., Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz.

Radio: Webcast on TexasRangers.com

Rangers pitching probables: RHP Alexi Ogando, RHP Jose Contreras, LHP Neal Cotts, RHP Jason Frasor, LHP Ryan Feierabend.

Angels pitching probables: RHP Joe Blanton, RHP Matt Shoemaker, LHP Wade LeBlanc.

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On the face of it, Joe Saunders’ three innings on the mound Tuesday weren’t exactly confidence-raising.

The newly acquired left-hander, who signed a major league contract with the Rangers last week, allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Chicago won the game 7-6 with a run each in the eighth and ninth innings.

Saunders wasn’t too discouraged by his outing, which included a wind-aided home run to center field by Gordon Beckham to lead off the third.

“I think it kind of shocked everybody,” Saunders said. “The wind was blowing out, it’s Arizona, thin air. What are you going do? It’s probably maybe an out somewhere else, but I just made a bad pitch.”

Dayan Viciedo’s ground-rule double to right scored Avisail Garcia, who reached on an Adrian Beltre error, to give Chicago a 4-0 lead. In the first inning, Adam Eaton led off with a double and scored on Jose Abreu’s single. Paul Konerko singled to score Garcia and a 2-0 White Sox lead.

“I made a couple mistakes they hurt me on, but other than that I felt like my arm was good,” said Saunders, who dealt with a blister on his left foot in the second and third innings. “I felt like the ball was coming out well. I was throwing strikes. My command was a little bit shaky at times, but I think that will improve with the more bullpens I throw and the more starts I get so I’m pretty pleased.”

Saunders, who started 32 games for Seattle a year ago, said he feels closer to season-ready than he did this time in 2013.

“I don’t really consider results in spring training,” he said. “You want to go out there and get guys out, but you also want to make sure everything is good with you. I feel very happy with where I’m at. I feel like I’m really ahead of the curve than in past years.”

The Rangers scored a run in the seventh and five in the eighth to take a 6-5 lead. The White Sox tied it in the bottom of the inning on Matt Davidson’s solo homer off Pedro Figueroa and then won it in the ninth on Alex Liddi’s run-scoring double off Rafael Perez.

“He got a couple balls up that they didn’t miss, but I thought he did a good job of keeping us in the ballgame,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Saunders. “He’s like everybody else, still trying to get himself in shape.”

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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