Mitch Moreland saw a fastball coming down the middle and swung away at it with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.
It’s a pitch Moreland thought he could do damage with, but he rolled it to the second baseman that started an inning-ending double play. That’s how the day went for the entire Texas Rangers’ offense with missed opportunity followed by missed opportunity.
It left Derek Holland as the hard-luck loser for the Rangers, who were shut out for the first time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Rays on a cold Wednesday afternoon.
Temperature at first-pitch was 39 degrees, the coldest day game in the history of Rangers Ballpark. The coldest game was a 38-degree night on April 7, 2007, against Boston.
The weather certainly didn’t seem to affect Holland. He held the Rays to two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts over eight innings, but still wound up with the loss.
“They ended up beating us,” Holland said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They pitched well, and we didn’t get good swings on it.”
The offense especially sputtered at key moments when it appeared to be on the verge of helping Holland.
Rays starter Matt Moore, who pitched seven shutout innings his last time at the stadium in Game 1 of the 2011 American League Division Series, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before giving up a one-out single to Craig Gentry.
After Gentry reached, Ian Kinsler drew a walk, but Elvis Andrus grounded into an inning-ending double play to end that threat.
The next inning, Nelson Cruz walked, David Murphy singled and Jeff Baker walked to load the bases with one out. That brought up Moreland to face Rays lefty reliever Cesar Ramos.
Moreland worked a 2-0 count before grounding into the aforementioned double play. Moreland actually beat the throw to first, but was called out because of runner’s interference by Baker, who slid well away from second base.
“You’re going to have some days like this,” Moreland said. “We just didn’t get it done today, but that’s why we play tomorrow.”
Moreland has gone 1-for-11 against left-handers so far this season, but manager Ron Washington isn’t ready to take him out against them.
“When I get to the point where I don’t think he can handle them, I’ll take him out,” Washington said. “Until then, he’s facing left-handers.”
The Rangers had another scoring chance go awry in the eighth. Adrian Beltre led off with a single and Murphy had a one-out double to put runners at second and third.
Washington went with Leonys Martin to pinch hit for Baker against Rays righty Joel Peralta. Martin flied out to right field. Beltre tried to score from third but was thrown out at home by Ben Zobrist to end the inning.
“[Zobrist] was flat-footed, you never thought he’d come up with a throw like that being flat-footed,” Washington said. “We weren’t putting runs on the board, and we had to force him to make a play. He made the play, tip your hat.”
Washington could have turned to Lance Berkman instead of Martin to pinch-hit in that situation, but said: “Berkman was available if I wanted him, but my manager’s choice was to give him the full day off.”
Rays closer Fernando Rodney worked around a leadoff single in the ninth, keeping the Rangers from their first sweep of the season.
“We didn’t sweep, it’s something we would’ve liked to have done, but you look at the positives,” Murphy said. “We won the series and we’re rolling right along so hopefully we can take that into Seattle.”